Christmas is around the corner!
The new church year has commenced and will be ushered in with concerts and celebrations around the world. Whether virtually or live and in person—our brothers and sisters have already begun celebrating the feast of love for their neighbour.
The young people from the Hex River district (South Africa) already began preparing for this feast of joy in October: on 23 October, the youth enjoyed a divine service together in Sydney Cook under the clear blue sky in the warm spring weather. After the divine service, they began musical rehearsals for Christmas. Following this, they still had an opportunity to spend some time together discussing their Christmas wishes.
A celebration of charitable love
Not everyone can afford a rich buffet and lots of presents at Christmas. It is for this reason that so many of our brothers and sisters want to practise charity and do something good, particularly on this feast of love. For example, in Berghausen, Germany this feeling prompted our brothers and sisters to pack and lovingly decorate 57 shoeboxes filled with presents, and then send them to poorer countries so that children from poorer families could also look forward to some gifts at Christmas.
In Heidenheim, Germany our brethren organised their fifteenth Advent bazaar, the proceeds of which were donated to the local foodbank. In the parking lot and in the basement of the church, visitors were able to admire and purchase homemade Christmas decorations, Advent wreaths, Christmas rolls and biscuits, as well as funny Advent surprises. While the children were occupied with arts and crafts, good conversations developed among the visitors over punch or mulled wine served with warm waffles.
Kicking off the Advent season in the virtual world
The Advent season has also begun in the NAC USA App . It includes everything from contemplative video devotions to enjoy at home to lively Advent activities for the whole family. Under the heading “The light of Advent” users will find video devotions with short texts and musical selections that prepare the way for the upcoming celebration of the birth of Jesus. Under “Questions for curious kids”, children can find answers to their questions about Jesus on an age-appropriate level. And of course, there is also an Advent letter from District Apostle Leonard R. Kolb.
Getting a good musical start to Advent
The congregation of Šiaulių, Lithuania began their Advent with a concert. After the divine service on the first Sunday of Advent, the “Gaida” ensemble from the Parkinson’s Society sang some Christmas carols.
The Advent season also began with music in Austria—but on a virtual level. Around Christmas during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, the children from the congregation of Salzburg were very disappointed because they wanted to make music and sing Christmas carols together. So it was that Christian Reiffinger, the congregational and children's choir conductor, created a musical Advent calendar. Every day, the brothers and sisters—and any other interested parties—were able to enjoy the music of the children’s choir and the regular congregational choir virtually, and therefore without the risk of infection. And since the concept was so well received, it was continued in 2021—and will also ensure that the congregation enjoys a blessed Advent season again this year. The first little door on the first Sunday of Advent was opened by Christian Reiffinger himself with a reading from the Salzburg author Karl-Heinrich Waggerl. Since then there has been music from both the children’s choir and the adult choir each day.
The good shepherd
A sheep goes astray. It has great fear because it doesn’t know where the shepherd has gone—nor where the wolf lurks. Suddenly it hears the shepherd’s flute, recognises the sweet melody, follows it, and returns to the flock. This was the story that the children performed live for the congregation in Madrid, Spain on the second Sunday of Advent. On this special Sunday, the children were responsible for various elements of the divine service, namely the musical framework, a number of speaking parts, and the short theatre piece demonstrating that Jesus is the good shepherd.
Following the service there was still an opportunity for the children to ask questions of Bishop Olmedo, and even after that, all of them stayed a little longer to enjoy some games and fruit.