Our next and final stopping place on the Ten Ten Year of Pilgrimage is Our Pilgrimage to the Manger. This theme of approaching the manger will be the golden thread through all of our Collective Worship Advent assemblies.
Advent is given to us by the Church as a time of double preparation. Not only do we get ready for the celebration of the Incarnation (Christ’s coming 2000 years ago) but also for Christ’s second coming at the end of time. It is recited in the Creed every Sunday: “He will come again to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end.”
To quote the lyrics of ‘You are the Way’:
Emmanuel means ‘God with us’. In the nativity scene, we see God-with-us in the child in the manger. Catholics believe that when Christ comes again, He will be with us, living among us, forever. His reign will mean that we will live in a place of goodness, truth and justice; in an atmosphere of love and joy.
That sounds like something worth preparing for!
Preparing to Prepare
It might seem excessive to plan for Advent in order to prepare for Christmas, but being intentional about Advent does require some forward thinking to make the most of a beautiful season.
Preparing for Prayer
Setting aside a specific time each day for prayer is a great habit to establish. At a time when we are very aware of the price of fuel, using an Advent Wreath both to create a warm cosy atmosphere and as a prayer focus, is a tradition worth considering. Some schools have an Advent Wreath for every classroom; some schools light them as part of an assembly; some families light the candles of the wreath at mealtimes while saying grace before meals, while others prefer to light them in the evening to create a special time of Advent prayer as part of their child’s bedtime routine.
Responding to Poverty
Sometimes images of baby Jesus lying in a manger can often be a bit twee. The reality is, this was a baby being born not in a hospital or a home, but in an animal stable with a feeding trough as His bed. This image that we see in the lead up to Christmas can be a prompt to us that there are those in our communities who are extremely vulnerable, especially at a time of financial crisis.
Perhaps you might consider making or using a ‘reverse’ Advent Calendar. Each time a door is opened on the Advent Calendar, instead of focussing on the indulgence of the chocolate (or the gin, beer or make-up, or whatever is in your Advent Calendar this year!), find a way to bless someone else each day, particularly those who are in spiritual, emotional or financial poverty. Perhaps, collect a different item each day to donate to a food bank or charity of your choice, or make an effort to contact someone who would appreciate a friendly message.
Throughout the month of November, let us prepare well to welcome Jesus into our hearts and homes this Advent and Christmastide.
You are also invited to make use of some resources we’re offering this Advent:
The Jesse Tree: From Creation to Christmas
We’re producing our very own online Jesse Tree resource for Advent 2022 – and we’re very excited about it! All the people encountered through Bible stories are included in the genealogy at the beginning of St Matthew’s Gospel. It can seem a bit dry when faced with a long list, but the Jesse Tree brings it alive as you journey through salvation history to arrive at Jesus Himself, born and laid in the manger. You can read more about it in the article below.
For school staff, Ten Ten are leading three Advent Retreat sessions as part of our CPD Package. Find out how to register below.