September may seem early to be thinking of Advent, but once Term 4 starts it will arrive fast! Here are a selection of resources, shared by chaplains here and in Australia, to help you get started.

An advent wreath is a beautiful, symbolic way of developing the sense of waiting and expectation. Gillian Townsley has shared a song that can be used for each candle, and has the major advantage that the tune is familiar, “Away in a Manger”.

“A Candle is Burning” by Sandra Dean, Ottawa.

(Words adapted by REv Cate Burton and Penny Merton, St Peter’s Tauranga, PCANZ, to make it more “Kiwi”).

A candle is burning, a flame warm and bright; a candle of HOPE in the darkest of night. Though troubled and worried, yet we will not fear. Our hearts are now hopeful, for Jesus is near.

A candle is burning, a candle of PEACE; A beacon to signal that conflict must cease. For Jesus is coming to show us the way; a koha, a taonga is laid in the hay.

A candle is burning, a candle of JOY; A warm glow to welcome brave Mary’s new boy. New life like a koru now being unfurled. God’s promise of joy to an expectant world.

A candle is burning, a flame strong and sure; Reminds us that God’s LOVE will always endure. Deep love like the ocean, steady as the tide. Great love which comes to us with arms open wide.

And for Christmas Day after lighting the candle:

A candle is burning, for the Christ has come. The fullness of God dwells in this precious one. A child is born who has good news to tell. Ihu Karaiti, Emmanuel.

Birch Pillars with Christmas Song Lyrics - Refresh Living

The wonderful Malcolm Guite has written this poem for Advent/Christmas/Season of Creation which has been arranged for choir here, in case your music teacher is interested.

Everything holds together

by Malcolm Guite

Everything holds together, everything,
From stars that pierce the dark like living sparks,
To secret seeds that open every spring,
From spanning galaxies to spinning quarks,
Everything holds together and coheres,
Unfolding from the center whence it came.
And now that hidden heart of things appears,
The first-born of creation takes a name.

And shall I see the one through whom I am?
Shall I behold the one for whom I’m made,
The light in light, the flame within the flame,
Eikon tou theou, image of my God?
He comes, a little child, to bless my sight,
That I might come to him for life and light.

Our across-the-Tasman friend Richard Browning has generously shared another series of chapel services, this time for Advent and a Carol Service. He writes:

“There is a short Term 4 chapel series suitable for a lead into Advent. The themes are promise, journey, wait, gift. This series works really well when connections are made to the promises and journeys and waiting within the community itself. If you are going to use it, you will need to contextualise it. But you know that.

Included also is a Carol service. This one comes from a Middle School kind of setting and can be tuned up or down. Carols? Singing? What is possible? Whilst this liturgy is good to go for 2020, you will need to listen well to your community. What of the year needs to be lamented? What of the many things to be grateful for need to be acknowledged? What hope do we work for in the presence of the Risen Jesus?”

Ben Truman at St Mark’s Christchurch has made it easier for us to get students involved in lighting the Advent Candles in a meaningful way by sharing the “dialogues”/prayers he uses, here. There is also an outline for an Advent Carol Service: something which isn’t as common as the Christmas ones, but may be easier to do before the end of the school year!

A document with other ideas for introducing Advent can be found here. I will add to it as I find more!