Season of Invitation - Christmas
Christmas is a season which seems to start ever earlier for shops and in the mind of the general public. So, while some churches will want to use Advent for a different focus, the Season of Invitation provides two opportunities to invite people to church events that focus on Christmas - on the day itself & in the preceding weeks. Alongside more obvious things such as carol services or Christingle, here are some resources that you might find useful:
- The Real Advent Calendar (www.eden.co.uk or www.traidcraftshop.co.uk). A Fairtrade chocolate behind every window, a 32-page colour booklet about the Christmas story, and a donation from each sale towards building a baby clinic in Kenya. There are discounts for bulk purchases. This is obviously more for personal use but you could link it with an event at the beginning of Advent.
- Posada. The idea of having a nativity scene travelling around different homes / venues has been used for some time by some churches. St Polycarp Malin Bridge have a fresh take on this idea for 2014. They have a lifesize Posada which will be doing the rounds in the parish, occupying public spaces - such as shops & businesses. People will be asked, 'Have you seen Mary & Joseph?' The idea is to encourage them to use social media to send in tweets, Facebook posts, selfies, etc. from around the community all through Advent. Then they can be invited to 'meet Mary & Joseph' at various Christmas services as the Posada returns to the church building. This seems an imaginative combination of something 'out there' in the community with a welcome into church as a climax to the whole journey.
- Silent Night. www.hopetogether.org.uk/Groups/194465/HOPE/Mission_Moments/Christmas/Christmas.aspx. HOPE & a number of other organisations have made available resources based around the carol Silent Night with its links to the centenary of the 1914 Christmas truce. This could make an excellent link between Remembrance & Christmas in your Season of Invitation.
- Outdoor Nativity. This is something I have done in rural churches in the past. Essentially it's an opportunity to re-tell the story but do it outside, complete with innkeeper, shepherds, angels, a manger, etc. Each point on the journey can be accompanied by appropriate carols and a dramatised reading. Ideally the whole event should end at a hall, church or pub with good welcome and hospitality. In one village that I know the population of 50 swells to near 200, such is the popularity of this approach to a carol event. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Carol service preacher. I am quite happy to come to preach at a couple of carol services during the Christmas period (subject to availability) if you contact me: email@example.com.