What is ‘Celtic Advent’? The Celtic church in the British Isles, before the Church traditions based on Roman usage became the norm, used to have a forty-day Advent (taking the model of Lent as a season of preparation). Given that Advent in the West nowadays seems to have been largely sucked into Christmas, some people are informally treating the Celtic Advent as a way of preparing for Christmas -it gives a couple of weeks at least of relatively quiet reflection before the rush and celebratory tone that now characterises December starts to pick up. The Eastern Orthodox churches still have a forty-day preparation period for Christmas (for them on 6th January) which they call ‘Little Lent’. Seasons of preparation are marked by a reflective feel, self-examination and often some degree of abstinence or fasting.
The Celtic-Advent Calendar (See below). The idea of this Advent calendar is to have a little something to do each day which relates to spiritual growth. Sundays are not included in the suggestions as going to church might be considered enough for the day! It is possible that some days, the suggestion for a deed is not practical for you. For that purpose, some ‘spare ideas’ have been included at the end as possible substitutes. It is always possible, too, to swap activities around different days and for this purpose the first day (Fri Nov 15th) has as its activity previewing the suggestions on the calendar to plan and if necessary swap in other ideas. A number of saints’ and commemoration days during the period are marked and the activity of that day is related to the saint or theme of the day.
Why go to Epiphany? The intention of the church’s year is that Christmas is a twelve-day feast period not just one day and that it ends with the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January. So in honour of that this calendar goes all the way through.
|Wait for it …||Wait for it …||Nearly there …||get ready …||15 NOV
Look over this calendar to plan and diary responses as needed (note at the end in the undated slots are some other ideas in case the ones for particular days aren’t practical for you.
|16 Visit a spot of beauty or wonder near your home. Breathe in the air, take time to savour something of the spot.||17
2nd Sunday before Advent
|18 Give thanks for at least one thing you enjoy about your work.||19 St Hilda
-was a woman leader in the British church. Choose a woman church leader today to be thankful and to pray for.
|20 Choose one colleague to be the recipient of a random act of kindness (if possible, anonymously).||21 . Listen to and appreciate a favourite piece of music and give thanks for it.||22 CS Lewis day: Read a passage from one of CS Lewis’s books.
Check out the different dates to see different passages here:
|23 Let a loved one know that you appreciate them /are thinking of them today.||24
Sunday before Advent. Feast of Christ the King
|25 Isaac Watts
-Watts was a hymn-writer. Look up his hymns and choose a verse to sing or mull over during the day.
|26 Reasons to be cheerful -make a list of things in your life that are cheering.||27. Choose an image of a favourite work of art and spend time with it: perhaps compose a prayer inspired by it.||28 Take a short walk round the university grounds today: notice beautiful and interesting things to appreciate.||29 Day of thanks and prayer for missionary work: Choose an organisation you consider to be doing God’s work and pray and give thanks for them.||30 St Andrew: Choose a person you consider to be doing God’s work and pray and give thanks for them.||1DEC
|2 Degree Congregations today.
Find a degree course you know little or nothing about and find out what it involves. Perhaps pray for those who learn and teach it.
|3 Degree Congregations today. Be kind to someone who looks fraught or in need of help today -staff, student or visitor.||4 John of Damascus -was the first Arabic-writing theologian and the first Christian recorded to dialogue publically with Muslims.
Reach out to a Muslim in his honour.
|5 Nicholas Ferrar -founder of the Little Gidding community. Pray for a Christian intentional community you know of.||6 St Nicholas Day. St Nicholas is reputed to have bestowed gifts anonymously. Give a gift or do a favour for someone today unbeknownst.||7 Ambrose of Milan – was elected pope while still a lay-person and ordained in quick succession to fulfil his calling. Pray for those preparing for church leadership, especially any you know personally. Perhaps send them a note to tell them you prayed for them.||8
|9 Take someone for a coffee or tea today -especially if you don’t know them very well yet.||10 Uni Carol Service. -plan to be there: 6pm St Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle.||11 Ember Day -traditionally a day to pray for people to discern vocations (needn’t be just for ordination) …||12 Find something little and usually -overlooked to notice and appreciate.||13 St Lucy -In much of Europe, St Lucy’s day is a festival with candles and torches. Take a walk to consciously enjoy Christmas lights today.||14 St John of the Cross -a mystic poet. Find or rediscover a spiritual poem to read and appreciate today.||15 Advent 3|
|16 Change one thing in your daily routines today, notice how it feels or be aware of what you notice because of the change.||17 Traditionally in the last few days of Advent, Titles of Christ theme the worship of each day.
Today ‘O Sapientia’ -Wisdom. Communicate appreciation to someone who has shown wisdom.
|18 “Lord” (Is.33:22)
plan how to go about something you find challenging as a Christian. Can you be SMART with it?
|19 “Key of David”
List the keys that you hold (home, work, leisure, church …?) and the types (metal, smart cards, codes, PINs …). How might each help you to understand something about Christ?
|20 “Root of Jesse” Is.11:10.
Who are your ancestors in the faith?
What do you appreciate about them?
What do you find difficult about them and why?
|21 “Morning Star” Is.9:23. If the sky is clear this morning, see what stars you can see around dawn and admire them.
The joint Universities’ Christmas campaign period starts: pray for students for whom the Christmas period might be problematic.
|22 Advent 4|
|23 “King of Nations”. Consider some world leaders to pray for: try to think of some less well-known ones.||24 “Emmanuel” (God is with us); make a list of things that have helped you this year to appreciate that God is with you.||25 Feast of the Nativity of Christ: enjoy!||26 St Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Find out about one situation where Christians still face martyrdom …||27 St John the Gospel-writer. Write out by hand one passage from John’s gospel. Notice what you learned or paid attention to differently.||28 Holy Innocents -the infants Herod massacred. Find an organisation that works against genocide and give some support in prayer and/or effort.||29
|30 Identify at least one thing to ‘declutter’ from your life/home.||31 Auld acquaintance: spend some time making contact with or tracing a former acquaintance…||1 JAN New year’s day. The Naming of Jesus. Do something today involving the name of Jesus. E.g. sing a song, write an acrostic, find out how it’s spelt/said in other languages …||2 Do something today that is new to you; even if it’s only a little thing||3 Take stock of causes you support. Should you make any changes of level of support, kinds of support or of what you support this year?||4 identify at least one thing you’d like to do differently next Christmas and make plans for it and put a reminder in your diary.||5
Go to Chaplaincy Communion 0830 or 1210, WJ 408
|Spare idea 1 – -smile at a stranger today. Enjoy||Spare idea 2 – Change your route to or from work and notice what you discover.||Spare idea 3 – send /do something to encourage someone who is struggling.||Spare idea 4 – re/search ‘spiritual disciplines’ make a shortlist to choose one from to try next Lent.|