Our Gift to You: Advent & Christmas Resources
There's no denying - this year has been a challenge. One of the hardest things we've had to face is the disruption of our most cherished traditions and celebrations. We struggled when we were unable to celebrate Easter together, yet we managed to overcome those challenges. We never expected to have to face the same challenges months later, but we now know that Advent and Christmas will undoubtedly look different this year.
After discussing how we can give support to our pastors and churches, Conference program staff decided to launch "Reimagine Christmas." Our goal was to help alleviate some of the stress of Advent and Christmas planning by providing the tools to reimagine the holidays. These tools include an extensive list of resources, original skits, graphics, advent calendars, and more. This is our gift to you.
Below is a description of each resource we've developed. They can be downloaded from Dropbox or accessed on our Advent/Christmas resource page.
Annotated List of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Resources
We've heard from many churches that the prospect of developing programs for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany is daunting and overwhelming. To respond to the needs expressed, Rev. Amy Wagner developed a comprehensive list of resources to aid in planning for this season. In an introduction to the resources, she writes:
"With all that 2020 brings, how much we need to hear anew the promises of God through the words of the prophets, to experience again the star’s light illuminating the night, and to know more fully the presence of Emmanuel, God-with-us! The following resources invite us all into reflection, repentance, renewal and celebration through the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany seasons."
This list is truly all encompassing and offers an incredible array of liturgies, studies, music, children's activities, etc. We know there is something on this list to fit the needs of every church.
Original Skits for Zoom
Our most exciting resource is a collection of three original skits, written by lifelong United Methodist and retired English teacher Dawn Conroy. She worked with DCM Alyce Weaver Dunn to create these resources. At an early age, Dawn began writing and producing skits and programs for children, youth, and adults in her home church. She continues to enjoy sharing her performance ideas through her website, www.trinitydrama.com
These skits are designed to be performed over Zoom and are appropriate for all ages. Participants are encouraged to dress up, use props, and be creative. Title graphics are included and the skit titled "What Can We Give Him?" includes additional Zoom backgrounds for each segment. Each skit includes instructions and advice to guide churches in the process.
Dawn has graciously given permission for her work to be used at no cost. All we ask is that she is credited after each performance and that recorded performances are shared with us!
Advent in a Box
With COVID cases rising, churches may not be able to celebrate Advent together in person. But that doesn't mean Advent can't be celebrated at home! Amanda Gilligan, Coordinator of Youth Ministries, put together this resource which provides links to Advent activities, devotions, and materials that churches can compile in boxes or bags to be sent home with families. Some of the links included on the "Advent in a Box" list are for pre-made boxes, but churches can easily tailor their own boxes to fit their congregation. To keep people connected, churches should encourage families to document their exploration of the boxes and share their photos on social media.
Mission Advent Calendar
Mission journeys were put on hold this year but the vital work done by our mission agencies and partnerships continued. Sandra Matoushaya, Missional Engagement Coordinator, put together an interactive Advent Calendar to highlight all the good coming out of Western PA. Each day, information about an agency or partnership will be revealed. Follow along here