Shopping bags, mince pies, Christmas parties, carol services, tinsel, fairy lights…Advent is a fun and beautiful time of the year. But in all the hustle and bustle keeping Jesus at the centre and reflecting on the meaning of it all can be a challenge.
At Church Urban Fund we want to offer a spiritually and socially renewed approach to Advent. We want you to join us as we use this time to host an Advent Sleepout Challenge
Personally, I find Advent is often so busy that I don’t even feel as if I have the time to pause for breath. I’d love to be able to say that I spend all my evenings with my friends and family playing board games and drinking hot chocolate but this is just not the reality for me. A lot of my time is consumed with trying to finish everything before the 25th December, making travel plans to get home, completing work ahead of deadlines, buying presents, and the list goes on. But none of this is very meaningful.
During this hectic time, it can also be easy to forget about the people in our society who are struggling. For some it may be debt, others addiction, homelessness, or isolation. However, this is not the end of the story.
Church Urban Fund’s vision is for lives and communities to be transformed and we are doing that by working in partnership with 18 dioceses across England to empower and equip local churches that are engaged in social action and community development projects. Over the last six months alone the Church Urban Fund Together Network has worked alongside 367 different churches or church-run projects.
Church Urban Fund also supports individual projects and in this short video Ryan tells his story of transformation. An alcoholic by the time he was 17, it was during his time in prison that he gave his life to Christ. Upon his release, Ryan was given the moral support and strength he needed by Walk Ministries, one of the projects funded by Church Urban Fund. He is now working as a car mechanic and is overflowing with hope and plans for his future.
That’s why Church Urban Fund has come up with the Advent Sleepout Challenge. This is a fun and easy way to get all your friends, family, church, and wider community together, to reflect on the meaning of Advent and help raise vital funds for people like Ryan.
It’s really easy to take part in. All you have to do is go to the website and register your event, find a suitable space, get a group together, and start getting sponsorship.
All the resources are packed into the toolkit on the website and will take you through each step of the process. Once you’ve registered your event it will then pop up on the interactive map where you can check out all the other events happening across England.
We’ve even got lots of fun ideas to help you have fun raising funds (from dress the tree to sing for your supper!).
Obviously, finding a stable might not be very practical unless you happen to be a farmer or a horse. So instead I’m looking forward to unleashing my creativity and transforming a suitable space for my sleepout into a stable.
At the Church Urban Fund offices we turned the car park into a stable for the day with the help of a couple of bales of hay, and a Christmas tree and fairy lights, for our photo shoot.
Personally, I’m really looking forward to taking part in the sleepout challenge because it will give me the time and space to reflect on the great significance of Jesus’ Advent.
During this time we recognise that God walked amongst us in the most humble of ways, and I want to acknowledge that this year by supporting some of the most vulnerable in our country.
I also think it’s a great way to engage younger people, and those unfamiliar with Advent, with the story of Mary and Joseph, and of Jesus’ birth over 2,000 years ago.
Of course, the hot chocolate, mince pies, and Christmas songs will be an added bonus!
Author: Lynsey Robinson
Date: 01 October 2015
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