Spill The Beans – Advent through to Epiphany with a Scottish flavour
Beautiful collection of liturgical ideas, thematic crafts, games, dramas, readings. a Must have for people curating worship over Advent/Christmas time this year. Link
Truth in Tinsel – An Advent Experience For Little Hands
Spend December impressing God’s Word on your kids’ heart! You’ll get 24 days of Scripture reading, ornament crafts, talking points and extension activities. Plus fun printables and templates. This is the perfect book for kids of any age–from preschool to elementary Link
Mucky Paws – Advent & Christmas Liturgies
Mucky Paws is a collection of liturgies created for use in worship written by Roddy Hamilton. What follows is a beautiful catalogue of liturgy, prayer, art, worship, drama spanning over 7 years worth of creative worship.
- Mucky Paws – Blog
- Mucky Paws 2004 – Advent Liturgies (pdf)
- Mucky Paws 2006 Volume 3 – Advent Liturgies (pdf)
- Mucky Paws 2007 Volume 4 – Advent Liturgies (pdf)
- Mucky Paws 2008 Volume 5 – Advent Liturgies (pdf)
- Mucky Paws 2009 Volume 7 – Advent Liturgies (pdf)
- Mucky Paws 2010 Volume 8 – Advent Liturgies (pdf)
- Mucky Paws 2011 Volume 9 – Advent Liturgies (pdf)
Two beautiful stories written by Gordon Atkinson (aka Real Live Preacher) that will allow you to experience the Christmas story differently, these are truly original and amazing stories. You can download them from his site and listen to them, but please consider paying for them, on itunes (link)
Experience The Christ Child – Christmas With Children
Written by Meg Everard, BoE, Synod of NSW/ACT. This booklet is designed to assist your congregation, kids club, Sunday School group, to really experience Christmas anew. To listen, to feel and to see the stories that make up this magical story with new eyes. Each of the experiences are linked with a Bible passage and are adaptable as you see fit. Each of the experiences are as powerful for children as they are for adults, so don’t be scared to involve your whole congregation. Many of the experiences will take some setting up, and some organisation before hand – so working on these as a team can be valuable. This booklet is divided into three well known stories that symbolise Christmas for many of us. You are invited to use one, or all depending on your group. (pdf download)
Worship The Christ Child – Christmas With Children
Written by Meg Everard, BoE, Synod of NSW/ACT. This booklet is designed to assist your congregation, kids club, Sunday School group, to lead worship with primary school aged children in the days leading up to Christmas. Please feel free to use part or all of the ideas contained in this booklet. The booklet is divided into four sections:
- Gathering and;
Worship is central to our practiced faith as Christians, it is a time when we gather to praise, celebrate and share with God. For children is can hold mystery, wonder and sometimes, lets be honest boredom. This booklet looks at new ways to worship and engage children with stories, imaginings and prayer that reflect the reality of Jesus’ birth. Through this resource I hope that children will dive into the story that is Christmas, to see new wonder, experience the story anew and that together you will grow as a community of faith. (pdf download)
Last year my community started Advent by creating our own Advent Calendars, I put the kits together using Christmas cards, cardboard, reflections from other calendars I’ve received from Alternativity.co.uk and Proost.co.uk and friends like Mark Pierson over the years, I also put some rituals and practices together myself.
It was a great way for us as a community to start to think about how we individually and corporately prepare for Christmas. Link
ALTERnativity – Alternative Resources for Re-thinking & Re-imagining Advent & Christmas
Alternativity is a resource produced in the UK by a group of people who wanted to develop new ways and liturgies for individuals, families and communities to explore, re-tell, play with and enter into the story of Jesus’ birth. The books develloped by the project include liturgies that can be used in worship in a variety of settings, the book “The Alternativity Meal” for example gives a process for families or communities to enter into a meal that re-tells the story of Christ’s birth, much like the passover meal.
I highly recommend these resources to churches, families and communities who want a set of resources that are very different and that will encourage them, their children and their community to explore the stories of our faith in new, thoughtful and exciting ways… Link
The Church of England has a number of great resources available on their website for worship during Advent & Christmas.
Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus, which means coming, and it’s the time when the Church gets ready for the coming of Jesus, celebrated at Christmas. The readings in the lectionary look forward not only to Christ’s first coming as a babe in Bethlehem, but also to his eventual second coming as judge and ruler of all. The themes are:
- darkness / light
- expectation of the incarnation of Christ on Christmas
- anticipation of the fullness of time at Christ’s second coming
In Roman times purple cloth was the most costly, and was associated with kings and rulers. And so the colour for Advent, the getting ready for King Jesus, is purple.
All too often, Advent gets lost in rehearsals for Christmas presentations, and the sense of anticipation and waiting disappears. The ideas in this section offer ways of recapturing Advent as a season in its own right – preparing ourselves to receive the gift of the Christ Child on Christmas morning. (Link)
With Love To the World is a fantastic, up to date, lectionary resource that could help people as they prepare for the coming of Love over the Advent season, or as they prepare their sermons and worship for the Advent & Christmas season.
With Love to the World is a daily Bible reading guide based on the Revised Common Lectionary as adapted for use in the Uniting Church in Australia. There are four issues per year. Link
Nine from Proost.co.uk
There is a traditional Christmas worship service of 9 lessons and carols which follows the Christmas story. Inspired by Grace in London who have created their own contemporary take on this service we invited nine artists or groups of artists to create a piece in response to one of the readings. We hope you like the results! There are 6 movies and 3 tracks.
As ever use with imagination… for personal reflection, to celebrate a family Christmas in the home, or to create a unique worship experience in your faith community/church. Read the reading and then watch or listen and reflect. Link
The Hopeful Imagination blog has been running over Advent for a few years now and has a great collection of reflections, ideas, prayers, poems written by a number of different people. Link
Advent is almost here. This wonderful season of hope and expectation begins a new liturgical year by drawing us into the excitement of Christ’s birth and the joyful anticipation with which we await it. It is a time to wait, to hope, to rethink our focus, and to imagine new ways to follow and serve Christ into the future. Now is the time to store up the resources we need to stir our imaginations and create new rituals and expressions of faith that guide us through a season in which our hearts ache for the coming of God’s light.
A great list of resources from Tom & Christine Sine Link
Christmas Starts With Christ – ChurchAds
ChurchAds long running campaign is “Christmas starts with Christ”. Each year they aim to retell elements of the Christmas story in a contemporary way. Last year ChurchAds focused on fashion, the year before they featured a baby scan and before that a bus stop nativity.
This year, they’re retelling the story with an eye-catching, brown-eyed Godbaby doll in a blue babygrow, with the slogan, “He cries. He wees. He saves the world.” Link
The guys down at ReJesus have a long list of resources for Christmas and Advent. ReJesus is a website designed for people who are looking for help in talking with people about Jesus and faith, the site includes puzzles, poems, spaces to ask questions, image downloads, worship, art and spirituality resources. It’s divided into 5 sections, The Story, The Encounter, The Popular Spirituality, Expressions and Community each section providing different ways to help people talk about Jesus with other people.
The Christmas resources on ReJesus includes puzzles, images, stories, fun activities and much more for you and others to connect with, go on and check them all out… Link
25 is a set of comic pages from illustrator si smith. each comic page tells an aspect of the christmas story. the speech bubbles on the pages have been left blank for you to fill in or tell the story in your own words and ways. there is also a digital advent calendar with 25 windows that are hyperlinks to the comic page of that number. as if that wasn’t enough, there are then 25 flatpack models that you can print on card, cut out and glue to make the characters that relate to the day of that number.
Worship House Media Video Clips
Worship House Media is a great website for people wanting to use multimedia resources in worship. WHM connects with multimedia producers from all over the place who provide resources in the form of movies, short films, image loops and still images for purchase and download and use in worship.
Are you wanting films or image loops for Advent? Worship House Media has a lot of resources just for you. Some of my favourite links on WHM for Christmas and Advent are:
- A 5 part series for the lighting of the advent candle: Link (these are really good)
- Jesus vs santa: Link
- Peace on earth: Link
- Breath of heaven: Link
- A short account of christmas: Link
- A Social Network Christmas Link
The Advent Conspiracy – Rethinking Christmas in a Consumer Society
We all want our Christmas to be a lot of things. Full of joy. Memories. Happiness. Above all, we want it to be about Jesus. What we don’t want is stress. Or debt. Or feeling like we “missed the moment”. Advent Conspiracy is a movement designed to help us all slow down and experience a Christmas worth remembering. But doing this means doing things a little differently. A little creatively.
A great resource for people wanting to think about what they give during Christmas and for turning Christmas upside-down so as to slow down and reflect on what Christmas should really be about.
I have the Advent Conspiracy DVD kit if you’d like to borrow it. The Advent Conspiracy crew have put a number of videos & resources online for people to access as they slow pace it through Advent:
- Session 1 – If a Little is Good Then A Lot is Best
- Session 2 – Christmas is Coming… Get Ready
- Session 3 – Love Found a Way
- Session 4 – Join the Conspiracy
- Session 1 – Worship Fully
- Session 2 -Spend Less
- Session 3 -Give More
- Session 4 -Love All
A few friends of mine and I came together a couple of weeks ago to put together a series of activities/practices/conversations/actions to help families prepare for Christmas this year. The Advent Calendar is ready for people to download and use in their household. Perhaps you’ve got a number of families in your community who would find this useful, perhaps you’ve a Messy Church community who would like this to assist them to prepare for Christmas, perhaps your own family would like to use the calendar to prepare yourselves?
Whichever it is, feel free to download, use and pass on the calendar to others who you think would find this useful.
A special thank you goes to Emma Parr, Aimee Kent and Daniel Mossfield who pulled together the creative juices and helped to put this thing together.
Download the Calendar here:
- Family Advent Calendar 2016 – pdf
- Family Advent Calendar – Pages document
- Family Advent Calendar – docx file
Fridge Advent Calendar
Emma Parr has put the Advent Calendar into a format that can easily be printed and placed on fridges, you can download the calendar from the children’s Ministry website here: http://childrensministry.org.au/2016/11/advent-home-cal/
Links and clips from the Calendar:
- Sunday 27th November – Create: Paper advent wreath TEMPLATE.
- Tuesday 29th Nov – Song: Kingdom Come
- Wednesday 30th Nov – Bible Reading Luke 1:26-33
- Wednesday 7 December – Bible Reading Luke 1:39-56
- Wednesday 7 December – Listen and watch: Magnificat Spoken word
- Tuesday 13th December – Listen and watch: “Mary, did you know?”
- Wednesday 14 December – Bible Reading: Luke 2:8-14
- Sunday 18th December – Create: Paper DIY Nativity TEMPLATE
- Wednesday 21st December Watch: An interpretation of the Nativity story
- Thursday 22nd December – Read: If I were a Refugee by Leunig
- Saturday 24th December – Watch and Listen: The Smallest Gift of Christmas
If you found this useful then perhaps these posts may also interest you:
Themes: Christmas, Advent, Animals, Nativity, Gift, Present, Remembering, Community
The narrative of the nativity has been told and retold in a number of ways over the years. Together, Penny and Stephen create a new and beautiful re-telling where the animals of the world maintain the act of remembering, and in doing so create a space for something magical.
In a different slant to many of the Nativity stories out there the animals take on the act of remember the story of a baby born in a stable. The Owl tells the story of the star that shone so brightly, the Nanny Goat speaks of the sleepless night all the animals endured as they awaited something wonderful to happen while the donkey remembers that it was one of his kind that carried the mother of the child to the stable and the cows speak of how they gave the mother and father milk to drink.
The animals are both the actors and the storyteller in this whimsically illustrated book that has quickly made a huge jump up my list of favourite Christmas books. I cannot think of any illustrator that I’d invite to paint the Christmas story other than Stephen Michael King, he continues to bring colour and life to a tale that may seem old, this is the third book I own where he adds his imagination to the tale told from house to house over Christmas.
May there be many more…
I really like the idea of story stones, so when I was thinking about Christmas crafts last year the idea came to me that I could create my own nativity stones. Nativity stones would allow people to carry the nativity story with them, they’d be a great story telling device and kids could have a lot of fun creating them and using them to retell the story.
Questions like “who is your favourite character in the Christmas story?” “Is there anyone that we could remove from the story and still have all that we need?” “What’s your favourite part of the Christmas story?” can be asked as you play with the stones and tell each other the story.
To create the Nativity stones you will need:
- Mod Podge (Matt or Gloss)
- Smooth Stones (use normal river stones or coloured decorative stones)
- Cotton bag for the story stones.
- Printout of images (here are three suggestions)
Wipe the stones clean with a dry cloth. If you do need to use liquid allow for time for the stones to dry off properly.
Cut out all the images from the printable nativity you’ve chosen.
Brush the stone with a thin layer of Mod Podge.
Place the nativity character onto the stone, lightly brush over the image to get rid of air bubbles and raised areas.
As the stone dries apply another layer or two of Mod Podge to seal the image onto the stone, the Mod Podge will dry clear.
Place the stones in a cotton bag for easy carrying and give as a gift.
Yes… it’s that easy…
This year I decided to make my own large-scale nativity scene, I’ve used this process to create life size picture book characters and landscapes and have been asked a few times how I created the pieces.
This time around I decided to put together a set of photos as a brief instruction manual for people if they want to make their own.
For this nativity I used Joel Henriques’ Paper Nativity as it’s a beautiful and simple black and white nativity set, one that works really well on cardboard and I had hoped really well on corflute.
So, here’s the instructions
Sheets of corflute
Good fine brushes
Fine permanent marker
Gloss Finish Spray
Set the projector up in a room where the throw will be enough to fill the sheet of corflute
Use the fine marker to carefully trace the lines of the characters onto the corflute. you don’t need to be too precious as you’ll paint over the lines next. Tip: make sure it’s a fine marker, I’ve made the mistake of using a thicker marker, it’s easier to paint over finer lines…
When you’ve finished tracing apply the acrylic paint over the marker lines and allow to dry. Tip: When you’re doing this make sure you cover the marker lines, the gloss spray often causes markers to smudge/run, so be careful that you’ve covered the lines.
Allow paint to dry
When the paint’s dry spray the piece with some of the gloss finish spray to seal the paint and allow time to dry.
Use the craft knife to cut around the characters. Tip: I place the corflute flat onto a grassed area, cutting up grass is a lot better than cutting up your carpet.
Check out the gallery below for photos of the process.
I wrote a Christmas story tonight during our Christmas Eve service…
It’s very very rough and depressing, but maybe that’s the point.
This Christmas I don’t feel that triumphant or joyful at all.
The heat was unbearable, the journey had been long and no one really had any idea as to how much longer they had to go until they hit land.
All the food had run out days ago, Joseph had stored up his own provisions over the first week of the trip so as to make sure there was at least a little food for his wife, now 6 months pregnant with his first child.
But the journey was so very long, water so very scarce, and the food, (if that’s what you called it) wasn’t really nourishing for anyone, let alone a pregnant woman so heavy with child.
Surely the journey would be soon, surely they would arrive at their destination in no time, and they’d be safe then, the baby would be fine, Mary, the mother would hold on for dear life to ensure the baby’s safety…
The angel had told them all would be ok, that this was God’s own son, that he would be called Jesus and be the king that the world needed, he alone could reunite us all and bring peace.
They both has seen the angel, surely all would been ok.
But the journey was so long
So very long…
The people that got them out of the dangerous place they were in didn’t seem too concerned that Mary was so pregnant, they were positive all would be ok, but the boat trip had already seen its fair share of tragedy, three of the older people had already died of what they believed was heat stroke, or starvation, or dehydration, or a combination of the above.
It was a miracle they’d made it so far alive..
Surely someone would come and help out soon, they’d been told that the navy would be sent out to help when they were close, but it had been so long since they had seen anyone, and a number of days since their radio had blown up so there was no way of calling for help now…
Days passed and the food had all dried out, the young mother-to-be was struggling, she was certain the kicking of the baby were getting softer and softer, she could hardly feel the young foetus moving inside her…
The young couple were becoming more and more scared as the trip continued, but they had faith, they would be safe, their child would be safe.
It was about then that they saw a ship on the horizon…
They were saved.
The ship escorted them to an island where they were told that they weren’t allowed to go any further, that their journey had ended. The country they had now landed on informed them that Australia had no room for people who arrived by boat and that there was no space for appeal.
Many of them had been planning to make it to Australia were disappointed and upset, the accommodation they now found themselves in was now hot and humid, canvas tenting without much in the way of support and definitely nothing in the way of comfort or support.
Joseph and Mary had other things to worry about, the baby’s health was still under question. The community who, by now had heard their story surrounded them in prayer and asked constantly for hospital care for the mother-to-be. The guards and people running the campsite seemed unconcerned though and spoke of their “rights” as being minimal and that they should be happy with what care they receive, even if they thought it wasn’t enough.
Some guards even made loud comments that the pregnancy was only an attempt for leniency and that they should keep quiet.
Unfortunately, days passed without the doctors sending the couple to hospital and they started to lose faith that care was on its way, and the pains became stronger and more often.
A couple more days passed and the pains stopped, Mary was taken to a hospital for care and the doctors pronounced the baby dead.
Angels cried and screamed in grief
Shepherds on the hillside felt their stomachs turn
Wise men staring at the stars swore they saw some stars vanish out of sight, never to return
The community at the detention centre cried, screamed, starved themselves and held each other close.
Not that anyone else knew, there was no one left to tell their story.
And no one left to listen.
– by Darren Wright
Artist: VariousCost: You choose your cost (available as free download)A great collection of traditional carols and Christmas songs sung by an eclectic group of musicians, some of you might recognise “Jars of Clay” and “Phil Keaggy”Money raised by sales of this album will go to the Blood: Water Mission charity.
Artist: VariousWebsite: http://noisetrade.com/pastemagazineCost: Free DownloadI subscribe to the PASTE Magazine, it’s a great source of alternative and folky type music, the holiday sampler has become an annual release for them, spreading the holiday spirit and providing a great list of alternative Christmas music, this year’s favourites for me are Christmas in the Room by Sufjan Stevens and Christmas Night by Justin Jones.
Artist: VariousWebsite: http://noisetrade.com/andrewrippCost: Free Download (but if you choose to donate money all funds raised will go to Thistle Farm)A nice holiday release from Andrew Ripp, originally released in 2011 this blues/roots Christmas release will have you clapping along, joyful and triumphant. While this album is offered for free on Noisetrade any money raised will be given to Thistle Farms. Thistle Farms is a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. As part of their rehabilitation the women work making by hand natural bath and body products.
Artist: Over The RhineWebsite: http://noisetrade.com/overtherhineCost: You choose your cost (available as free download)Probably NoiseTrade’s best free download of the year.Over the Rhine is a beautiful band, a new favourite of mine. They’ve released two christmas albums thus far, “Snow Angels” and “The Darkest Night Of The Year.” full of beautiful originals and re-imagined traditional carols you’ll find your ears will be blessed by listening to their music. “Snow Angels” is their second release, they’ve put it on Noisetrade as a Christmas present. You can download both via iTunes or their website http://overtherhine.com where you can also check out their other releases.My favourite track from “Snow Angels” is “Little Town”
4. LITTLE TOWN
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy dark and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
The lamplit streets of Bethlehem
We walk now through the night
There is no peace in Bethlehem
There is no peace in sight
The wounds of generations
Almost too deep to heal
Scar the timeworn miracle
And make it seem surreal
The baby in the manger
Grew to a man one day
And still we try to listen now
To what he had to say
Put up your swords forever
Forgive your enemies
Love your neighbor as yourself
Let your little children come to mePASTE Magazine (listed above) included Over the Rhine in their list of 100 Best Living Songwriters and wrote, “There can be no adequate labels for music this dense, this conflicted, this emotionally charged. Over the Rhine creates true confessional masterpieces that know neither border no boundary.”Over The Rhine’s song “The Trumpet Child” (available on another album) would be another beautiful Advent song.
Artist: BranchesCost: You choose your cost (available as free download)A great collection of harmonic acoustic Christmas tunes by a couple of best-friends turned bandmates.
Artist: Sufjan StevensWebsite: http://noisetrade.com/sufjanstevensCost: You choose your cost (available as free download)Sufjan Stevens has released two Christmas collections, one back in 2006 and another this year (2012) titled Silver & Gold. This sampler is a collection taken from the 58 track Christmas collection Silver & Gold .Grab this sampler album for free, and if you’re amazed by the eclectic mix of reimagined carols, original tracks and traditional songs then head over to http://music.sufjan.com and buy the entire collection (or the previous collection from 2006)
Artist: SleepingAtLastWebsite: http://noisetrade.com/sleepingatlastCost: You choose your cost (available as free download)A mellow collection of traditional Christmas carols and a couple of new songs.
Artist: Ben RectorWebsite: http://noisetrade.com/benrectorxmasCost: You choose your cost (available as free download)Beautiful vocal and acoustic renditions of Christmas classics.
Artist: VariousWebsite: http://noisetrade.com/themusicbedCost: You choose your cost (available as free download)An eclectic collection of christmas carols and songs from the likes of Katie Herzig, Ben Rector & A New Normal
Artist: Hilary GristCost: Free DownloadThis is a beautiful collection of Christmas songs, Hillary’s voice is almost too cute and old-fashioned, the accompanied ukulele & piano make these songs sound almost too simple. Her rendition of Angels We Have Heard on High has to be one of my favourite Christmas carols this year.