Forward to Adventure!
In my former parish, there were various experiments we made to make the most of the unique atmosphere of preparation and excitement accompanying Advent. Shortest-lived was what we called the Nativity Crawl, which involved the familiar festive cast dressed in costume and released in stages onto the high street, to work their way along the five pubs situated there, finding ‘no room at the inn’ until culminating (with carols and swaddled doll) in carols at the last pub en route. It was fun but didn’t quite catch light.
More successful was what we called The Adventure, whereby each evening in Advent, a small space around the benefice – someone’s garage, or a school porch – would open for just one hour to give a glimpse of something festive and hope-filled. Different households or groups would take responsibility for one night each, so the load was spread: some would simply sing carols and serve mulled wine, others were more adventurous and creative, but all were exciting steps along the way to Christmas Eve, which took place in the lychgate of one of the churches.
I recall this project (which wasn’t my idea, by the way) fondly, because it began to change the rumour about church in the community and brought alive a season that still kindles spiritual yearnings among so many. My seventeen-year-old daughter told me this week that ‘getting ready for the party is better even than the party itself’. In Advent, I’m inclined to agree.