Advent and Christmas

The pandemic has cast a long shadow over everyone’s lives and as we look ahead to Advent and Christmas, we know things will be very different this year.

Gatherings are likely to be smaller, services will be shared online, and we are much more likely to be at home.

The Christmas message of hope, of Christ born in Bethlehem to bring light into the world, to save us, and to be a beacon of hope, is therefore even more vital.

How are you preparing for Advent and Christmas?

While it is still not clear what the precise restrictions might be around Christmas itself, churches across the Diocese are preparing ways they can share the comfort, joy and hope of the Christmas message in new and different ways this year.

To help churches prepare, the Evangelism worksteam of the Diocese’s Called Together vision, has collated 10 simple – and hassle free - ideas for approaching evangelism over Christmas.

In particular, they encourage churches to engage with the national Church’s Comfort and Joy campaign - to use the free resources that will be produced nationally and locally, so these can amplify a church’s own activities.

Rev Helen Burn, Vicar of St Justus and Lead of the Evangelism work stream says;

“Comfort’ and ‘Joy’- what do those two words mean to you? The choice of these two words from a well-known carol as the basis of the national Church of England resources is a tremendous gift to us this Christmas.

“What brings you comfort and joy? Those are the questions I am asking people from our congregation and community over the next few weeks and already the answers are proving fascinating.”

  • Read how some parishes around the Diocese are planning to mark Advent and Christmas. Read more here

Getting on board with Comfort and Joy

As a Diocese, we will be supporting the national church’s #ComfortandJoy campaign, which through a variety materials, will invite us to take comfort from knowing that God is with us, and where it occurs, allowing ourselves to be surprised by moments of joy.

We would encourage churches to engage with the campaign by:

  • Adding online and in person services and events to AChurchNearYou.com – which has already received more than 40 million page views this year and so is a vital resource.
  • Using the free Advent and Christmas music available through the AChurcNearYou.com Resource Hub intranet.
  • Downloading the free resources and generating customisable videos to promote local activities through the AChurchNearYoun Resource hub.
  • Accessing printed material available through the Church House Online shop, including reflection booklets.

Find out more about Comfort and Joy here

Local content for you to use - NOW AVAILABLE

Join us on a journey through Advent in the company of Canon Gordon Giles, Canon Chancellor at Rochester Cathedral, as part of our engagement with the Church of England's Advent and Christmas campaign, #ComfortAndJoy.

With reflections taken from his book, At Home in Advent - A domestic journey from Advent to Epiphany, published by the Bible Reading Fellowship, Canon Gordon, leads us through the season with the help of some comfortingly familiar, seasonal objects and activities.

As well as available for churches to download, we will share a weekly video reflection from Canon Gordon each week on our social media channels.

There are accompanying prayers and reflective questions too.

(Our thanks to Canon Gordon Giles and the Bible Reading Fellowship. Music and footage - Canva: One Design License / Pixaby)

"This year Advent and Christmas are, we know, going to be very different, perhaps painfully so, but also hopefully so.  There is unique pain this year, but there is special hope. 

"It feels like Advent began last March with the first lockdowns. There has been anxiety, doom and gloom and expectation ever since.  Recent talk of a vaccine has given some hope in these darkest of days. These are Advent themes.  So this year is different.  For we have been living Advent, not as a spiritual exercise, but as a living, breathing, dying, suffocating real-life and death phenomenon.  So maybe we don’t need Advent this year? Oh yes we do. We need it more than ever!

"We must watch and pray and we must not sleepwalk through these challenging, precious, profound times.  There is much to learn and upon which to reflect.  Whether you are able to read the book or not, I do hope and pray these little videos will give some space for prayer and reflection on some of the things which we encounter in our daily lives at this time of year.

"Let us look for God in the waiting and hoping, the festive decorations, the lights, and amid the preparation of the season that leads us to the celebration of nativity and incarnation, that we may encounter Christ in our homes and our hearts."  (Canon Gordon Giles).

  • To enjoy a daily reflection from Advent right through to Epiphany, At Home in Advent is available to buy from the Bible Reading Fellowship here 

 

  • Beacons of Hope – Through their presence, creativity and outreach, churches throughout the Diocese have been a ‘light in the darkness’ throughout the pandemic, bringing comfort and joy to people and their communities.

On our social media channels, we’ll be sharing stories to inspire, bring comfort and make visible the church as a beacon of hope, throughout Advent.

Find us on Facebook  and on Twitter. THey will also be available on our YouTube and Vimeo channels.

Get in touch

If you would like to share with us how you will be doing Advent and Christmas differently this year, or if you would like to let us know how your church has been offering comfort and joy throughout this time, please email: communications@rochester.anglican.org




Copyright 2015 © The Diocese of Rochester. Registered Office: St Nicholas’ Church, Boley Hill, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1SL. Registered Charity No. 249339 The Rochester Diocesan Society and Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No. 140656