if you want to go to a christmas carol type event in london this one tomorrow promises to be right up there with the best i suspect - with the talented foy vance in his own inimitable style!
...we have a couple of new ones on proost...
that's the number of the beach hut we visited in brighton on saturday. it's become something of an annual pilgrimage for jenny and i to visit brighton (which we love), do some christmas shopping (which we love less), and visit whatever beach hut is opening that day as part of beyond's beach hut advent calendar. follow the blog to see each day's hut as it unfolds.
if you are up north go and visit bridlington advent beach huts
down south visit the beach hut calendar in brighton by beyond
follow an advent freshexpressions tweet [day 1 is from me!]
how about a bit of angel light painting? i saw this idea on someone's twitter and can't for the life of me remember where or who?! but it seems a great aadvent idea...
christine sine always comes up with a ton of stuff for advent - here's a prayer for the first sunday of advent
i still think the best statement i have heard for quite some time that relates to advent is from occupy st pauls - another world is possible - we look forward to the coming of christ into the world and to the day when christ returns and all things are made new - in both cases another world is possible and we seek to live out a life that makes another world possible now.
sim nolloth has put together a movie on the song god of the moon and stars that is rather delightful. i confess it's not my favoured music - in fact i turned the sound off preferring to just see the words(!), but the words are powerful and it is really well done. i am making this movie a worship trick - no 17 series 4... and i recognised most of the places in brighton that are in it.
and if you want something for a primary school assembly beatbox nativity might do the trick?!
follow the category advent on the blog to see other resources i have linked to before on advent.
ben bell does it again! every year he seems to come up with a very creative and often provocative image for advent. there's a set here of his previous images which have now been used all round the world. fast food christmas is this year's. if you want to use the images ben asks you contact him and give a credit.
i can't quite believe it's time to think about advent and christmas but i guess it's not far away. si smith and ian adams have combined together to produce a new digital advent calendar which is available on proost. it blends 25 si smith iconic illustrations with a short reflection each day from ian. it's a pdf which you can either view on a computer, monitor, projector, iphone, ipad or whatever else takes your fancy. if you subscribe you can also access the individual images - one person has contacted us to say they are printing out one a day to put on their church noticeboard outside through advent. we also have a bundle of other advent resources which you might want to look at. here's a few for example -
9 lessons, a flash animation | nine - nine artists interpret the traditional nine readings with 6 movies and 3 songs | 25 - si smith's amazing cutout and make nativity characters and advent calendar and comic. | wait - vaux movie | silent night movie
we also have another liturgy book as well that is new this month from urban expression, an urban mission agency that recruits, equips, deploys, and networks self-financing teams pioneering creative and relevant expressions of the christian church in under reached areas of the inner city. this collection of liturgy and prayer is based around the core values and commitments of urban expression. it is inspiring and relevant whether or not you are connected with urban expression. it provides a month's worth of prayers, readings and exercises. it's just available as a download. i have all the proost pdf liturgy books on my phone and I find that's a great way to be able to use them. i'll be adding this!
i don't preach very often and when i do i am not in the habit of writing sermons out word for word, but because i needed to remember detail and wanted to keep to time i write out a talk i prepared for st marys in ealing yesterday. i actually got the wrong passage so thought i was supposed to be unlocking some gems from jesus' family tree as outlined at the beginning of matthew's gospel. anyway as i have written it out i thought i'd post it here in case it's of interest...
I have a confession - about a month ago when I glanced at the reading for today I misread it and thought it was the first half of Matthew chapter 1 which is the genealogy of Jesus - on the surface not the most exciting reading, a list of names - but I was sad enough to be excited because I like a challenge and also because it contains a few hidden gems. So I am going to focus on that which does connect and lead perfectly into today's reading of the coming of the messiah into the world which is the second half of the same chapter.
Who's looking forward to the Royal wedding next year? One of the issues that was being discussed early on was whether Kate was of good enough stock for royalty - isn't she a commoner?! The messiah would surely have to be of good stock and there are no surprises when Matthew kicks off his narrative [v1]
'This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham.'
Matthew is writing for Jews in large part to convince them that their longing for a rescuer, the anointed one, the Christ, the messiah is fulfilled in Jesus. Straightaway he hooks into this longing and sense of good stock by showing that Jesus is in the direct lineage of Abraham and David - two patriarchs and immense figures of the faith. He then lists Isaac, Jacob, Judah… and the reader settles into the familiar roots of the Jewish story.
I saw 'the American' recently. It opens up with a romantic scene - a happy couple caressing. They wake the next day and it's magical snow that they walk across and all of a sudden George Clooney notices footprints and pulls the girl into cover when a shot rings out. What had seemed to be a nice smooth opening has suddenly taken a twist. There is tension in the plot - something else is going on! In a lot of films and books, how they open the story is crucial to setting up plot lines and tension and giving you clues for later.
So we have a happy genealogy going swimmingly when Matthew throws in a shocking twist
'Judah… whose mother was Tamar' [v3]
Tamar is actually the first of 4 women that are a series of shocks creating plot tension, 4 mothers who get mentioned before Mary, the fifth and final mother. In order they are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah's wife (who we know to be Bathsheba but she is not named here). It is incredibly unusual for women to be included - Jewish bloodline dealt with the father, son, grandson etc i.e the male line. And these are not good stock, not 'good' women. They are not the celebrated matriarchs - Sarah, Rebeccah, Rachel and so on. They are all connected with some sin and lawbreaking.They are all gentiles, outsiders - Tamar a canaanite; Rahab of Jericho, Ruth a Moabitess, and the wife of Uriah was a Hittite.
Tamar - this story is embarrassing to even read. [Genesis 38]
Tamar marries Judah's son Er who is wicked and struck down by God. Not having children was shameful and the cultural thing to do would be for someone next of kin to give her a child. This is Onan, Er's brother who does sleep with Tamar but spills his seed as he doesn't want a child to be recognised as his brother's heir. There is another brother so Judah says she will have to wait until he is older but deliberately forgets and leaves her in shame and isolation. After Judah's wife dies Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute and sleeps with him. When he hears she has become pregnant through prostitution he says she should be burned to death but she sends him his staff which he had given as a fee and he realises his own shameful behaviour. This story of incest, deception, prostitution. This shame has been woven directly into Jesus' story.
Rahab - she was 'a harlot'. He story is that when the Israelites were scouting out Jericho she let soldiers lodge with her. Then when the invasion came she hung a red cord from her window and her and her household were spared. She is commended in Hebrews 11:31 for her faith.
Ruth - there is a whole book of the bible which tells her tale. But in short she leaves her homeland after the death of her husband to travel with her mother in law Naomi to Israel. Through a series of circumstances and her own kindness she is married to Boaz. There is no blot on her character but as a Moabitess she was under a curse. Deut 23:3 tells us that because of sin the Moabites were shut out of the congregation of the Lord. God's own word shut Ruth out by law and yet she is in the ancestry of Jesus Christ! Salvation comes to those who the law shuts out.
Uriah's wife - we don't know why she is not named as Bathsheba though being forgotten and nameless is a common experience for women the world over. Uriah was always described as Uriah the Hittite so it's certainly a signal in the mind of the reader that she is gentile, an outsider. Bathsheba - David commits adultery by having an affair with her and arranging for her husband to be killed. Her first child dies but her second is Solomon. Another shameful circumstance where mercy triumphs over judgement.
So you see what Matthew is doing - just when it seems like he is demonstrating Jesus good pedigree as the messiah he is shocking his readers by including women, including gentiles, including sinners, including shameful stories, including those who the law says should not belong.
[I haven't got time to elaborate on this but a point that is easily missed is that the men in this list are not so squeaky clean either - Mannaseh and Ahaz and even David - war mongering, idolatrous, adulterers, sacrificed own children, murderers….]
Wow! What is going to happen next? Who is this Messiah? Where is Matthew going with this? The messiah's history is one of grace. Curiously this passage, a family tree, is the most reassuring piece of scripture. Do you feel worthy to be part of God's family? Are you good enough? Are there things in your story and life that fill you with shame? Do you feel like you don't belong? You're an outsider? Well guess what - this Jesus has come into the world for just such a person as you. 'I have not come for the righteous but to save sinners…'
The last woman and mother to appear is a pregnant teenager who is not married - Mary, the godbearer. Whilst the readers might have begun with the thought that a messiah would never appear in that way maybe now they will think twice. Matthew has made the case convincingly that grace can come, that a messiah can come through circumstances that you might not expect. The OT reading this morning was a reminder that indeed that is exactly how it was prophesied it would be [Isaiah 7].
Harry is going to leave you with a poem about Mary, the mother of God.
grace last was a wonderful mix of stations for our christmas nine. just to recap 9 artists/groups took a reading from the traditional nine lessons christmas service and created an installation in response. they had to a) choose a piece of music to play and b) use a 2m square frame. for mine i laid the frame flat and filled it with soil and wrote the words your kingdom come with candles in response to the prophecy in isaiah 9:2, 6-7 - the people walking in darkness have seen a great light. above the frame i had a screen projecting the video unwrap our darkness that i made last advent. the tune i played was robert plant's satan your kingdom must come down. lots of people were taking photos of the various stations which will follow at some point but here's a movie i took...
it's grace christmas service this saturday evening. we are revisiting nine which was something of a grace tradition but we took a few years off to do other things. but by popular demand it's back only this time with a slightly different take. it will be a series of stations/installations created by members of grace. each station is a response to one of the traditional readings from the nine lessons and carols christmas service and will incorporate a large wooden frame and a tune chosen by the artists. should be fun! a cafe will run through the evening with the obligatory mulled wine and mince pies and DJ... hope to see you there.
it's the first of december - wow! i am so not ready for that... here's our proost news for advent which has links to advent and christmas resources
Ten Thousand Places is this month's proost release. It's a delightful collection of poems from Chris Goan spanning themes of humanity, faith, wilderness, community, mission and family. Chris is part of the community Aoradh in Dunoon, Scotland. It's available as a pdf download or as a physical book.
Today is the beginning of advent. Just a quick reminder of some of the resources on proost for this season...
9 lessons is flash animation . Run the flash file (in a browser or flash player) and there are 9 animating loops corresponding to each of the nine lessons and carols from the traditional Christmas service. But here's the brilliant part - each one loops for as long as you like while you do the reading and whatever else. Then you simply click on the play button in the corner to move on to the next image.
nine - nine artists interpret the traditional nine readings with 6 movies and 3 songs.
wait - Vaux's simple but powerful movie and liturgy on waiting in advent.
silent night - a movie that's ideal for pretty much any Christmas service
If you are a subscriber the movie Unwrap our Darkness (inspired by Cheryl Lawrie's Christmas confession in Hold This Space which has some lovely advent prayers in) is a free bonus movie in the downloads section.
Then of course lots of liturgies and songs on the advent theme elsewhere in the books and audio sections...
If you subscribe of course you can access the content in the downloads area as part of your subscription. if not you can buy the individual items or subscribe now...
Have a great season of Advent!
Jonny, Jon, Aad
christine sine writes some simple and lovey prayers and liturgies. this prayer is as simple as they come but perhaps all the better for that simplicity. i really like using breath as a means for prayer. i don't exactly remember the reference but there is a really good reflection on one of rob bell's videos where he suggests that for jews the name of god is like the sound of breathing - yahweh without the vowels pronounced and that in the very act of breathign the neame of god is on our lips. christine suggests some passges that came to mind when she was reflecting on this prayer
Breathe out empty yourself: of hate, of fear, of anxiety
Breathe in fill yourself with love, with life, with mercy
Breathe out empty yourself of busyness, of selfishness of greed
Breathe in fill yourself with peace, with joy, with hope
Breathe out empty yourself of idolatry, of self worship, of false gods
Breathe in fill yourself with God, with Christ, with the Holy Spirit
as is her tradition she has also composed an advent video focussing on christ's coming not so much as a baby but as a bringer of justice.
following the advent card i posted i have had so much good feedback on it that i decided to make a movie with a few more lines from cheryl lawrie's christmas confession in hold this space. i used the movie at cms carol service on weds and played sufjan stevens version of o come o come emmanuel along with it as the opening to the service. anyway, it being christmas and all that i have added it to vimeo and if you log in or sign up (which is free) you can scroll down the page and download it for free... if you are a subscriber to proost it is also in the download section of the site. thanks cheryl for the beautiful words.
if you are not a mac user i don't know how what i'm about to say compares with powerpoint as i never use it, but i use keynote (and arkaos at times) for presentations. keynote is so simple but does what you want it to - i'm a big fan. this movie originally ran in keynote. to make it i dragged the movie in and then set it to loop in the inspector. then each line of the movie is a build that runs for a round 15 seconds. but here's the neat bit - you can trigger the builds automatically with a delay before each one if you like. so put the slide on and the the whole thing plays. to turn it into a movie for somewhere else is a bit more tricky. the problem (and i don't have the latest version of keynote so don't know if that has been improved) is that if you export a presentation as a movie it only runs a movie through once even if you have set it to loop. so to get round this i created three slides and had two lines on each slide so that those transitions fitted with one run through of the movie. the transitions between slides when the movie exported were a little bit clunky so i then deleted a few seconds of the transition using quicktime (pro) and you can see the end result. did you want to know that? i have no idea. but i am making it a worship trick.
anyway this month on proost our upload is 5 movie loops - VJloops2 all filmed by me on the 5dmkii which takes such wonderful movies. they include the movie of the sky lanterns so the movie above is an example of how you could use a loop like this. you can actually watch all the loops in vimeo (though not download them). they are sky lanterns | carwash | candle hand | sparkle | fireeater . my favourite is still carwash - the first ever loop i took on the camera!