Live Advent, a wonderful example of community joy for the festive season
Sybilla Davis, church warden at St Mark’s, Sticker, is determined that, this year, throughout the Christmas season, no one in the community will be on their own. She has produced a leaflet that is crammed full of activities taking place throughout the local area on each day leading up to Christmas.
From Whirlybobs Christmas story time for children to a cheese and wine evening for the more mature, Christingle to a Danish Christmas dinner, yoga to wreath-making, there is something for everyone. Age, ability and mobility are no barrier to joining in. If being quiet and reflective is your thing, the Candlelit Quiet Evening will be for you, but if you’re in the mood for something louder, there’s Bingo, Morris Dancing or a Christmas Jumper Big Breakfast.
The idea came out of the AMD process. Sybilla and others wanted to support their Rector, Revd Marion Barrett, to help put into place some of the outreach initiatives they had in their sights. A Bible book club and children’s corner in church came first with Sybilla taking on the idea of a Live Advent.
“I think everyone was a bit daunted because they thought they’d have to come up with the activities themselves. In fact, it’s just been a case of putting together everything that’s already going on and using it as a way of connecting people,” says Sybilla. Which is a modest way of saying it’s been a labour of love, phoning around, talking to people, gathering all the information and putting together a diverse programme that meant there was something for people to do every day.
“It became quite a passion!” laughs Sybilla. “Too often people don’t know what’s happening, or find out after the event. I’m trying to make sure that won’t happen this Christmas. Having produced this leaflet, we’ve delivered it to every household in the village, put up posters and posted the events on our community Facebook page.”
Talking to Sybilla, it’s clear that she loves her village, the community and her church. As well as being church warden, Sybilla has been church secretary and trained as a worship leader. “It’s become my life!” she says. She originally got involved because her children went to the Sunday school, then she was asked to read the Lesson and it went on from there.
“Feed thy sheep”
“Church is a place where I experience a great sense of peace, where I feel close to God, says Sybilla. When she was a little girl, she felt she heard Jesus say to her in church, “Feed thy sheep.” As she’s got older, and become involved with the St Mark’s community, she lives out that command through all the very many events she has helped to organise, bringing people together, not just with food but fellowship.
It would seem God has richly blessed this community, not just with the people he has put together, but by giving them the space to facilitate that. In 2009, they managed to secure a generous grant from Sita, the recycling company, to renovate, restore and refurbish their church hall.
“It used to be old and rather tatty,” says Sybilla. “We drew up a wish-list and, thanks to the grant, we’ve managed to do everything we wanted and more.” The hall is lovely, warm, welcoming and versatile. It’s a fantastic community resource, with new loos, an upgraded kitchen, reception area, usable staging, new chairs, oak doors and is used every day of the week. It will certainly be put through its paces as Christmas approaches and the Live Advent begins.
If you’re looking for something to help you focus on the meaning of Christmas, whether that’s the wonder of God’s greatest gift to us, or the joy of being together, The Live Advent will not disappoint.
Click here to see the full programme of activities.