Prompted by Tanya Marlow’s Advent Resources 2016 post, I thought I’d share some of the things I read and watch and listen to during Advent and Christmas. Even if none strike a particular chord, perhaps you could consider what might help you journey intentionally through the coming season?
Each Advent since 2013 I have signed up for Brian Draper’s Advent 20 email series. The daily reflections and suggested responses inspire and gently challenge, and help me to keep my focus amidst all the busyness. The series is shaped by the replies Brian encourages and receives, and which he shares with those taking part. In this way there is very much a sense of us as an online community, travelling through Advent together. I’m looking forward to this year’s journey – why not join us?
For the past couple of years I have appreciated the daily poems and reflections of Haphazard by Starlight by Janet Morely, but this year I am looking forward to Malcolm Guite’s Waiting on the Word (both books mentioned by Tanya). I wish I had the time and head-space and heart-space for both!
I don’t think there’s been a year when I haven’t had an Advent calendar (and I’m almost 52!) As well as taking me back to the excitement of childhood, it’s good to notice and mark the days’ passing. I like a calendar with a traditional nativity scene (as my mum got me when I was a child) ideally with images from the Christmas story hidden behind the windows, and certainly no chocolate!
We also have an Advent candle, which we try to remember to light each day – and to extinguish before it burns down too far!
I aim to watch the BBC mini-series The Nativity in weekly parts throughout Advent (although, if I remember correctly, I did once end up watching it all at once on Christmas Eve!) Some might argue with the way the tale is told (particularly, perhaps, Joseph’s reaction) but for me it brings the various (sometimes conflicting) strands together in a way that emphasises the reality of it all – even if it didn’t happen exactly the way it’s depicted.
Nativity!, Elf (of course!) and Arthur Christmas have also become family traditions – and each, in its own way, reflects something of the spirit of the season (as well as being great fun!)
On Christmas Eve I listen to the A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge on BBC Radio 4, whilst wrapping presents with a Whisky Mac to hand.
For traditional carols with a more contemporary twist I enjoy Annie Lennox’s Christmas Cornucopia (as does my teenage daughter, but not my wife or sons!)
I will also be listening to two CDs by the early music vocal ensemble, Stile Antico – Puer natus est: Tudor music for Advent and Christmas and (recently ordered) A Wondrous Mystery: Renaissance Choral Music for Christmas.
However you spend the coming season, may you have an enjoyable, meaningful and blessed time.