Happy new year, members of the Church! The liturgical year began last Sunday, Advent Sunday, and we of the 10:30 Club heralded it in by making miniature Advent wreaths out of plasticine and birthday cake candles.
Hopefully the 10:30 club children were looking forward to lighting a new candle every Sunday (and then quickly blowing it out again, as birthday cake candles aren't really meant for this kind of work!) and were able to take a new Advent tradition home to their families.
Hopefully they didn't already have as many Advent traditions as we do.
Six years ago, The Rev and I sat down and amalgamated two families' worth of seasonal tradition, creating a few of our own along the way. This year, with Abigail taking part as well, we have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Here is our Advent table:
We have an Advent Crib Calendar, given to Abigail by her Nanou as a baptism present. Each door reveals another figure to go into the nativity scene.
Then we have a beautiful cross-stitched pocket calendar, sent all the way from Greece by Aunty Lili for Abigail to enjoy this year. Today, the first pocket intriguingly revealed a wooden star with the letter H on it, and a little card telling us to read Deuteronomy 18, 15-19.
We have our Jesse tree, which I have been gradually making ever since our first Christmas as a married couple. This will be the first year when all 25 pieces are already made and ready to go - though some of the earlier ones are already in need of some TLC!
We have a Guess-the-Saint Advent calendar, another gift from a few years ago.
We also have a conventional cardboard calendar and an Advent candle. And how I resisted adding a chocolate calendar to all this, I shall never know. It was probably the sure and certain knowledge that I would have to share the chocolate with Abigail.
Also in use but not on the Advent table is our own Advent wreath, and our Christmas Crib which is set up empty in the sitting room; Mary, Joseph and the donkey will begin their journey at the left-hand side of our bedroom windowsill tonight. Hopefully I'll remember to move them before they start gathering dust, or disappear under the little piles of receipts that The Rev likes to deposit there.
I thought, as I sat after all the ceremonies for the day were complete and waited for the candle to burn its way down past number 1, that it would be a fun (!!) challenge for me to try and blog our Advent progress daily - even if it only means posting a photograph of what the calendar has revealed or what has been newly hung on the Jesse tree. Hopefully I might occasionally have a few moments to add some deeper thoughts or some news too!
So, on our Jesse tree today:
Genesis 1 verse 1: In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth. And so it begins.