19 ideas for a meaningful Advent.Do you lament the annual "$ellabration" of Christmas? Have you ever wondered how you can nurture your faith and celebrate Christ's birth in the face of so much busyness and commercialism? Then consider these "alternative" Advent activities:
1 Learn a new carol or all the verses of a familiar one each week during Advent.
2 Sign up to pack or deliver Christmas food hampers for local food banks or emergency feeding programs. People who have a car and can deliver hampers are often especially needed.
3 Make or buy an Advent wreath An advent wreath is a ring or set of four candles, usually made with evergreen cuttings and used for household devotion by some Christians during the season of Advent. Many churches illuminate these candles in succession through the four weeks leading up to Christmas as part of (candles and plastic foam or plaster of paris work well). Use a weekly or daily Advent reading (available from church libraries or Christian bookstores) and light the appropriate candles. For small children, try hiding the wreath (unlit!) on the first night. Read Isaiah 9:2 ("The people who walked in darkness Adv. 1. in darkness - without light; "the river was sliding darkly under the mist"
darkly have seen a great light") and search the house with flashlights until it is found. Great fun!
4 Purchase an Advent calendar Advent calendar n → calendrier m de l'avent
Advent calendar advent n → Adventskalender m
Advent calendar n with Scripture verses for each day.
5 Bring Christmas cheer into someone's life with a smile. Visit a hospital patient, an elderly housebound house·bound
Confined to one's home, as by illness.
politically correct Politically sensitive adjective neighbour or a nursing home resident.
6 Each night, look over the day's cards you receive and pray for each person. Or, collect the cards and display one a day beginning January 1. Reread Verb 1. reread - read anew; read again; "He re-read her letters to him"
read - interpret something that is written or printed; "read the advertisement"; "Have you read Salman Rushdie?" the card, talk about the person, then pray for him/her. You might send a note to tell the person what you did!
7 "Just say no" to invitations that cause stress and busyness, or ask for a rain-check in January or February.
8 Celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6. This historic figure was well-respected for his kindness and generosity in Christ's name. Plan a special dinner (candlelight, perhaps), decorate with red and white (the bishop's colours), and retell re·tell
tr.v. re·told , re·tell·ing, re·tells
1. To relate or tell again or in a different form.
2. To count again.
Verb 1. the story of this saint. Our family now exchanges gifts that evening in order to take the emphasis off gift-getting on Christmas Day.
9 If your church offers family services on Christmas Eve, tell friends with children. Even those who wouldn't normally attend church might welcome such a child-centred event. It's also a great opportunity for outreach.
10 For friends who are grieving or having a difficult time dealing with Christmas, a service geared for people in their situation can be a Godsend god·send
Something wanted or needed that comes or happens unexpectedly.
[Alteration of Middle English goddes sand, God's message : goddes, genitive of God, God . Our church, Knox, Waterloo, holds its Longest Night service on December 21. If you know of a church that offers such a service, sharing that information could be the kindest thing you do all month.
11 Check out books with Christmas-themes from church or public libraries to read aloud in front of the fire.
12 Don't send cards. Instead, write notes to friends and relatives in January or February. Your letters won't cross in the mail and you'll gain the gift of time in Advent.
13 If you do send cards, buy them from charities such as UNICEF UNICEF (y`nĭsĕf'), the United Nations Children's Fund, an affiliated agency of the United Nations. , Amnesty International Amnesty International (AI,) human-rights organization founded in 1961 by Englishman Peter Benenson; it campaigns internationally against the detention of prisoners of conscience, for the fair trial of political prisoners, to abolish the death penalty and torture of or Habitat for Humanity Habitat for Humanity, nonprofit ecumenical Christian organization that enables low-income people to own affordable, livable housing. Headquartered in Americus, Ga., it was founded in 1976 by businessman Millard Fuller and his wife. .
14 Avoid buying wrapping paper. Make or buy cloth bags, or use foreign newspapers or the comics section (or the business section for the entrepreneur, crossword section for the puzzle fanatic, etc.) Tie with colourful yarn and use a recycled Christmas card for a gift tag.
15 Consider alternative gifts: Make a donation in someone's name to a favourite cause. Numerous charities, including local soup kitchens, food banks or conservation groups, often send cards to recipients noting that a donation has been made in their name. The Waterloo Region Habitat for Humanity office is offering a "shopping list" (donate a light fixture for Aunt Martha for $10, a bundle of shingles shingles: see herpes zoster.
or herpes zoster
Acute viral skin and nerve infection. Groups of small blisters appear along certain nerve segments, most often on the back, sometimes after a dull ache at the site; pain becomes for Uncle Bob for $20, or a gallon of paint or an outside door).
16 You can also adopt a tree, a bird or a whale from various wildlife organizations, or even an animal from some zoos. Cards, photos and information will be sent to the person you designate.
17 For more traditional but still unusual gifts, consider Third World crafts from the Mennonite Central Committee's Ten Thousand Villages shops (call 1-888-622-6337 for locations of stores near you), UNICEF mall displays or catalogue (1-800-567-4483), or Oxfam's Bridgehead bridge·head
a. A fortified position from which troops defend the end of a bridge nearest the enemy.
b. A forward position seized by advancing troops in enemy territory as a foothold for further advance. catalogue (1-800-565-8563). This way your gift gives twice!
18 For more alternative Christmas ideas, read books such as Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli's Unplug the Christmas Machine. Highly recommended.
19 But, most of all, remember God's advice in Psalm 46:10: "Be still, and know that I am God!"
Nancy Matthews is a member of Knox Church, Waterloo, Ontario, and has led studies and workshops on alternative celebrations. She particularly enjoys not writing Christmas cards each December!