Another advent, a growing collection of resources

UnpackingAnother year, another advent. This year the first Sunday of Advent found us in the throes of moving house. We haven’t had much head space for serious reflection, but thankfully our advent habits have kicked in anyway. Surrounded by boxes and cleaning gear, trying to work out how life looks in a new place, we’ve amazingly still been able to carve out time to read through our bible reading plan. And finally, five days into December, we’ve even managed to put up our advent calendar.

Beginning the advent project a few years ago helped us to develop advent routines, our little household liturgies that help us see Jesus clearly. But as time passes things keep changing, we keep growing, and the church keeps producing incredibly helpful resources and tools for fixing our eyes on Jesus. So we’ve made a few changes to the Advent Project. From now on, every time we find something new to help you celebrate advent, we’ll add it into the resources section. Every now and then we’ll post here to let you know about new resources or remind you about some old favourites.

May your 2015 Advent be a rich season of remembering how God kept his promise to send Jesus into the world to save us, and of trusting God’s promise that Jesus will return to the world again to make all things new.

Advent Bible Readings | Advent Art | The Antiphons | Book Reviews | Collects and Prayers | Things to Make | MusicPoetry | Sermons and Devotions

Introducing the Christmas Project

Last year, to prepare our own hearts for Advent, we produced The Advent Project: 89 posts of Scripture readings, prayers, reflections, poetry, music, and videos to help us patiently mark time as we waited for the coming of the King.

Federico Barocci: The NativityWe found it to be a very helpful process, and were delighted to share it with many people. One thing we noticed was that after preparing for Christmas all of Advent, it was easy to run out of steam. To spend so much time in preparation, that we forgot to feast.

We hope to rectify that this year, with the launch of The Christmas Project. We plan on providing:

  • a weekly Advent post, connecting the watchfulness of Advent with the celebration of Christmas, including various habits and practices designed to increase our anticipation of the feast;
  • one daily Christmas post between Christmas Eve (December 24) and Epiphany (January 6), with habit forming resources and devotional practices to celebrate the nativity of Jesus Christ.

Christmas is a season of joyous thankfulness. The festivities of the season are designed to enmesh us in one simple truth: Emmanuel – God is with us! As we celebrate the lavish abundance of God’s generosity towards us in the gift of his Son, come among us to heal our afflictions, the Christmas season trains our heart, mind, and body to hopefully anticipate that when we feast in God’s kingdom, when God will be all in all.

 

How to participate in the Christmas Project

This year The Christmas Project will collect resources to help us feast with thanksgiving. Our aim is to celebrate for a whole Christmas season, to sustain our joyful thanks for the incarnation not just on December 25th but for the whole Twelve Days of Christmas. We want to explore ways to sustain our worship where in other years Christmas has quickly given way to the excitement of summer. Cricket, beach missions, New Years celebrations and BBQs are all good gifts to be enjoyed with gratitude: take the opportunity this year to reclaim them as Christmas.

  • Sign up
    Throughout Christmas we will be collecting a huge range of resources to help you celebrate: music and poetry, prayers and sermons, recipes and craft tutorials. Follow or subscribe to receive weekly updates during Advent and daily updates throughout Christmas.
  • Explore on your own
    Rifle through our resources section, find your favourite poems, songs and sermons and make your own plans for celebrating Twelve Days of Christmas this year. Our resources section will keep expanding during the Christmas season.
  • Share your celebrations
    Are you a social media nut? Share your twelve-day-long Christmas celebrations with #the12daysproject hashtag. But even more significantly, share your celebrations with family, friends and lots of people who don’t know Jesus. God became flesh and dwelt among us; that is definitely worth celebrating with as many people as possible.

The first post is available to read here.

Matthew and Alison
Christ the King Sunday 2014

How to use The Advent Project

Advent is not a frantic countdown to the stuffed stomachs and broken toys of Christmas. Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter; it is a time of both patient waiting and discontented longing that fuels our hope in the coming Kingdom of God. Amidst this season where our time feels so scarce, dashing from party to party and present shopping, Advent teaches us to watch, to wait, and to hope for the appearance of the one who makes all things new.

john the baptistThe Advent season is comprised of three aspects that you will find represented throughout the Advent Project. Firstly, Israel’s longing for an end to her exile. In Advent we join with Israel awaiting the deliverance from their sins, release from their exile, and the return of their King. We join with Israel’s prophets that proclaim this good news, and in doing so, we come to see that the story of Israel’s exile from God is part of the story of the world’s alienation from God.

“During Advent each year, the Christian year teaches us to once again become Israel, recognizing our sin and need, that waiting, longing, hoping, calling, praying for the coming of the Messiah, the advent of justice, and the in-breaking of shalom. We go through the ritual of desiring the kingdom – a kind of holy impatience – by re-enacting Israel’s longing for the coming of the King. We are called to be a people of expectancy – looking for the coming (again) of the Messiah.” – James K.A. Smith

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Introducing the Advent Project

“Modern secularization can be seen from one angle as the rejection of higher times and the positing of time as purely profane.” (Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries)

“Christians are people whose year does not simply map onto the calendar of the dominant culture.” (James Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, 2009)

“The church calendar aims at nothing less than to change the way we experience time and perceive reality.” (Mark Galli, Beyond Smells and Bells, 2008)

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

138px-StJohnsAshfield_StainedGlass_SimeonThe Christian year is  the counter-cultural response of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church” – Christians around the world and through the ages – to “the problem of time,” the meaningless cycle beginning in chaos and ending in death. Through the Christian year, the Church recognizes the inability of secularism, religion, or philosophy to satisfy our hunger and thirst for God. Thus, the Church seeks to minister to humanity’s absolutely irrepressible need for rest, for feasting, for joy, for meaning, for life by leading us to God – as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ – through a weekly Sunday feast that celebrates his death and resurrection and through seasonal feasts that walk us through the events of his life.

The Christian year refers to Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. These seasons enable the Church to mark time by Jesus and thus shape her life by:

  • Addressing the problem of time
  • Celebrating God’s mighty acts of salvation
  • Teaching the historic Christian faith
  • Proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God

Christian time begins and ends in Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8, 17). The season of Advent marks the beginning of the church year and specifically marks time with the narrative of Christ – his coming in the incarnation as the hope of Israel’s desires, and his coming again at the renewal of all things. As James K.A. Smith writes:

“the Christian observation of Advent marks a different orientation to time, particularly when it is recognized that Advent is a penitential season of denial and self-examination rather than accumulation, consumption, and self-indulgence. The distinct marking of time that is integral to historic Christian worship establishes a sense that the church is a ‘peculiar people,’ and the liturgical calendar already constitutes a formative matrix that functions as a counter-formation to the incessant 24/7-ness of our frenetic commercial culture.” (Desiring the Kingdom, 156-57)

This website is designed to help us to do this: to mark time. To produce a habit that is so charged with the gospel that our hearts, minds, affections, wills and bodies long more and more for the for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

In the year of our Lord 2013 advent commences on the first of December. For the proceeding four weeks will be posting prayers, quotes, scripture, images and more to feed our hearts with patience (James 5.8) during this waiting for the Kingdom. Wait with us.