I’m afraid so. I know it’s still October and the shops have not started selling Easter eggs yet, but we really must start talking about the ‘C’ word. Bury-St-Edmund’s’ C-ahem Market is only a little over four weeks away and I’m sure some of you out there already have C-ahem pressies wrapped, yes? (Not me, though I do have some chocolate oranges secretly stashed away … shhhh)
So, continuing the very popular series of seasonal resources, we now move to Advent. Here is a brilliant craft combining Advent wreath with Advent calendar. It’s great for Messy Church, children’s church, Christmas outreach events (there I said it) and a wonderful family activity for home.
You can make this craft in two forms: as a table decoration or as a wall hanging, depending on how you attach the candles. The picture here shows it in wall-hanging form.
You can either make the whole thing all at once, or assemble as far as the candles then add the tissue leaves and flames throughout Advent. For each day in Advent we add one bunch of leaves or, on Sundays, light a candle, so that we complete the wreath by Christmas.
You can either have red candles with perhaps some gold highlights, or if your church uses liturgical colours, purple and pink candles.
You will need:
- Paper plate
- Paints and sponge or felt tips
- Glue dots / staples / glue stick
- Tissue or crepe paper – green and flame colours
- Candle printouts (Click here for PDF)
Cut the centre out of a paper plate and paint the back green. Print out the candle PDF onto paper or thin card (there are two sheets). Colour the JOY candle pink and the other three purple. Alternatively, colour all four red. You can leave the ‘drippy’ sections white if you like.
Cut out the candles and put glue down one side. Roll them into tubes and there are your – I have to say it – handles for forks!
If you don’t know what that means:
- Have you been living in a cave?
- Try saying what you have just made, preferably with London accent.
- Watch this. (Watch this anyway, even if you do get the joke. We all know it’s worth it)
If you are making a table wreath, snip the bottom edges of the tubes to make tabs so that the candles will stand upright. Use staples, glue dots or magic to attach the candles evenly around the wreath.
If you are making a wall hanging, arrange the candles at 1 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 7 o’clock and 10 o’clock, so that there is room for the fifth candle to attach at 12 o’clock. If you are using church colours, the pink candle is the third one (7 o’clock). Glue or staple the candles in place.
Leave the fifth candle white, or colour it silver or glittery. Make it into a tube like the other candles, but wider. Place it in the middle for a table wreath, or attach it to the top inside edge of the plate if you are making a wall hanging. Add a cord for hanging if required.
You will need squares of green tissue paper or crepe paper to fill out the wreath, and squares of red, yellow or orange for the flames.
Overlap a couple of green squares and scrumple the middle to make a bunch of leaves. You can attach these with glue dots, staples or a glue stick. Make similar bunches from the flame colours, but twist the top edges together to give a flame shape.
You will need five bunches of flames and 18 -24 bunches of leaves, depending on when you start the calendar and what day of the week Christmas falls on.
You can start this calendar on the first Sunday of Advent or 1st December. For each day that is not a Sunday, add a scrumple of green, working your way around the wreath. You need to fit six bunches of leaves between each Sunday candle. On each Sunday of Advent, light a candle by attaching a scrumple of flame. Again, glue dots are your friends.
You can light the final candle on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, depending on your tradition.
Advent can be a busy time. Had you noticed?
There’s folding the Christmas leaflets for church, Crib Service, Carol Service, school Carol Service, PTA bazaar, who do we send cards to? (I cut three-quarters of my list a few years ago, and no-one even noticed). Christingle, oranges for making Christingles, risk assessment for doing the Christingles, food for after Christingles, Nativity Pageant on the green (are we having a donkey this year?), choir practice, Christmas concert, whose turn is it to put the angel on the top of the tree? Staffroom secret santa, Mums and Tots’ Christmas party, youth group Christmas party, older folks’ Christmas party, how am I going to be Santa for my kids as well as go to midnight mass?
I don’t know about you, but for me the Christmas flurries start after half-term, getting steadily heavier until I’m some mad thing shovelling snow in a blizzard come the big day. Finally I emerge in January, exhausted, bedraggled, and with a random sprout in my hair.
So having a reminder of what Advent is supposed to be about is very useful for me. A Christmas wreath may be a familiar decoration, but check out the symbolism:
The unending circle reminds me of God’s unending love, the evergreen leaves of eternal life.
Red candles remind me of my sin, like scarlet, washed clean by Jesus; blood. Purple candles remind me of royalty, Jesus as King of Kings.
The four candles take me through the story of Christmas, from the visionary hope of the prophets, through the love come down and the shepherds’ joy to the angels proclaiming peace to the world.
Then finally the Christ candle. White for sins washed clean. White for light. (Breathe) Light of the world. (Put down the tinsel) Light in the world. (Quit wrapping pressies for a minute) Light for the world. (Look. And Think. And Breathe.)
Of course, things need doing – angels need costuming, grottos need building, brussels need sprouting
But perhaps this year I’ll remember to breathe amid the furry.
Some thoughts to go with each candle.
On the first Sunday we light the Prophecy candle. We think of the prophets who lived in hope for Jesus’ coming.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isa. 7:14
On the second Sunday we light the Bethlehem candle. We think of the great love that was born in a stable.
“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
On the third Sunday we light the Shepherd’s candle. We think of their great joy when they heard the Good News.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10–11
On the fourth Sunday we light the Angel’s candle. We think of the peace that they announced for all the world.
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests’.” Luke 2:13-14
Finally, on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, we light the Christ candle, and praise God for sending Jesus as the light of the world.
“Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ ” John 8:12