One of my fondest memories as a child was of receiving an Advent calendar just before the first day of December. I loved those little doors. I would wait expectantly for the dawn of each new day, knowing I would get to open that day’s door and find a new treasure inside. Behind every door of my childhood calendar I would find a lovely picture of a Christmas symbol along with a scripture passage for me to read. Over the course of Advent I would experience the stories leading to Jesus’ birth as I anticipated opening that one final door on Christmas day.
We passed this tradition on to our children and delighted in watching the next generation open these wonder-filled doors for themselves. Over time though their calendars began to reveal a bit more chocolate than stories, and the ritual became more of a countdown to Christmas day than a way of preparing for Christmas Day.
This Advent I’d like to invite you and your congregation to enjoy a new kind of Advent calendar, one that includes the significant stories of scripture along with some contemporary stories that connect with the important themes of Advent. In addition to these incredible stories, this calendar also includes simple crafts, new songs, outdoor adventures, special ways of caring for others, and fun games.
The most thrilling part of this Advent calendar is that it is INTERACTIVE!
When you click on each of the daily doors of the calendar you will immediately be taken to a videoed story, song, or craft to watch, or you might open your door to a downloadable instruction sheet outlining an exciting project, a multi-sensory prayer or an outdoor activity to enjoy. Built on a Google Slides platform, interactive links have been attached to each door of the calendar allowing users to delight in multi-sensory experiences each day of the season.
This calendar has also been created for all ages in your congregation to enjoy; everyone will find something special to participate in with this calendar.
If your church is also using the 2021 Advent Devotional booklet featured a week ago on this synod site, you will soon discover that the scripture readings and stories of the Advent Devotional booklet connect smoothly with the daily stories and activities of this interactive calendar. Both resources are able to stand alone, but when used together create an even richer opportunity for everyone to prepare for the coming of Christ into our homes and lives this Christmas. If you missed the article with the free 2021 Advent Devotional Booklet, you can find it here.
Now for some of the details.
First of all you will find our Advent calendar at the beginning of this article. The calendar itself is live and presently includes more than half of the links behind its doors. I’m still receiving videos from many of church leaders within the synod and I’m also continuing to upload additional instruction sheets to the calendar. But, you can click on the calendar now and discover some of the treasures already there (the first nine days are are uploaded with a few others scattered throughout the calendar). I will keep attaching additional links to this calendar as they are available and when I add them at my end they will automatically become live for you at your end. Do not worry, the link that is hyperlinked into this calendar (and also attached below the calendar) will not change when I upload new material to the calendar. Also know that all 28 days of the calendar will be included at least one week before the first Sunday of Advent.
So, how can you and your church download and use this calendar?
This Advent calendar has been created with the hope that you will attach it directly to your church website, or email it home to church members to interact directly with. While users can come to the synod site and click on the calendar here – it is so much better if they are given the opportunity to visit your own church website and interact with the calendar there each day, or to have it sent to them directly in an email from your church with instructions to place it on their computer desktop to interact with each day.
To take the calendar from this article and attach it to your church’s website, drag the photo of the calendar onto your desktop. Alternatively, you can right click on the calendar picture, then save the picture on your computer by clicking ‘save image as.’ You can then upload the photo of the calendar to your website. Then, to find the link to connect the calendar picture to the interactive calendar, click on the interactive calendar link above so it opens a new window, and copy the url at the top of the screen. At this point you may choose to hyperlink this url into the picture of the calendar you have placed on your website, or add it as a link below the calendar picture, in this case noting that the link is what gets everyone into the calendar and not the picture itself.
Finally, and this is the most important thing of all, don’t upload the calendar to your church website too soon. Remember how you received your childhood Advent calendar the night before you were to open your first door? Hold off uploading the calendar or emailing it to church homes until just before the first day of Advent. You can let everyone know in the weeks before Advent that something special is coming – but don’t let them peek behind the doors too soon!
Oh, and just in case you haven’t noticed it quite yet, this calendar begins on the first Sunday of Advent, November 28, 2021, not the more traditional store bought calendar date of Dec. 1.