Oh, the joys of the season of lights! We decorate our parishes and homes and open our hearts with expectation of what this new season will bring. But can there really be a quiet season anymore in the midst of the chaos? Can we really focus our hearts on the greatest gift of grace the world has known? I have to believe that we can and that part of my place in this world is to help others to find that peace in the midst of it all. So, last year I curated an event for the First Sunday of Advent to set the tone for the rest of the season.
The Kickoff Event
We unveiled this interactive experience at our “Welcome Home” evening event on the First Sunday in Advent. There was no registration; we welcomed all to just show up. This was tricky, so we guessed the number of people according to previous attendance. We wanted to make it accessible for all so we prepared a craft specifically for younger folks (gingerbread houses, in keeping with the Welcome Home theme), a few other smaller crafts for kids, and for the adults, we created a modern Advent wreath.
We set up a table with all the supplies so folks could just line up on either side and take what they needed. The goal wasn’t necessarily to deliver this awesome craft; it was more to welcome folks back into community and to help them engage with one another. This is why we made the crafts as simple and elegant as possible (We even hot glued the gingerbread houses (which were made with graham crackers) prior to the event so as to make them easier for children to decorate.). However, we also wanted the adult craft to feel special, like an heirloom piece, so our parishioners would treasure not just the craft, but also the time spent together creating it, so we created something simple but elegant: a modern Advent wreath.
The Modern Advent Wreath
- Wood Slices
- Small mason jars
- Tea light candle
- Votive Candle (Dollar Store)
- Wooden house
- Pine cones -optional
- Cinnamon sticks- optional
- Orange slices- optional
- Plastic Berries-optional
- Art Stickers- print on Avery labels
The Gingerbread Houses
- Graham Crackers
- Gluten-free Graham Crackers
- Assorted Candy
Preparing and Hosting the Event
We decorated our Commons Area beautifully for the season and set out the crafts along with holiday-themed snacks and drinks. We played soft music from our Advent playlist and let folks mingle, then we explained the crafts and let them jump in. Everyone loved the crafts and snacks and spent a lot of time on them. We had several parishioners give great feedback that it was meaningful to them, and they were happy with their wreaths and proudly displaying them in their homes. Fun was had by all, young and old.
Continuing the Quiet with Visio Divina
In addition, our parish used the Welcome Home Advent series from Sanctified Art. We purchased the bundle with the art resources and created a space for dedicated Visio Divina in our chapel (a secondary worship space) by enlarging the images at our local Staples and attaching them to canvas with paste. Then we placed the art around the room on easels and welcomed folks to use the space throughout Advent whenever they felt the need. Each week the art was highlighted and used on our social media, as well.
All photos were provided by author.