Over the last few months we have worked with dioceses and people across the Church of England on a new Advent and Christmas theme to reflect the current Covid context. We hope that Comfort and Joy will better enable us to reflect where the country is and will be by the end of this year. This builds on the success of #FollowTheStar, the theme of the 2018 and 2019 campaigns.
Comfort and Joy holds together the hope that Christmas will bring joy and celebration after a uniquely difficult year with an acknowledgement that – for those who have lost loved ones or livelihoods, or who are potentially still not able to be together with loved ones – it may be the Church’s role, both nationally and locally, to provide consolation, rather than assume everyone will be ready to join in jubilation. We also have to anticipate there may be further spikes.
This Christmas the Church will need, in the words of St Paul in Romans 12.15, to ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep’. We will aim to celebrate where we can together in one place – but also embrace a wider community that wants to join in the celebration but may not be physically able – or emotionally ready – to do so. We hope that Comfort and Joywill enable us to build a campaign that both enables us to reconnect with the rich and joyous traditions of the past and to offer God’s consoling love in the present.
What are the key elements of the campaign?
As in previous years, the national Church will work with dioceses and churches to make a range of content available, branded with the Comfort and Joytheme:
We have partnered with a number of public figures to produce short reflections exploring the theme. Comfort and Joy: Nine Lessons and Carols for Christmas mirrors the structure of a traditional carol service, exploring both biblical texts and the words of much-loved Christmas carols.
The reflections for each day from Christmas Day to 2 January feature contributions from Kate Bottley, Jonathan Bryan, Bob Chilcott, Martha Collison, Stephen Cottrell, Guli Francis-Dehqani, Chine McDonald, Sally Phillips and Justin Welby. The booklet is introduced by the Archbishops and has been edited by the Ven John Kiddle, Archdeacon of Wandsworth, author of the best-selling God With Us: Your Christmas Journey.
The booklets are now available to order (individually, or in packs of 10 or 50) from Church House Publishing.
They will also made available freely via audio, smart speaker, as well as in app and email formats with accompanying prayer activities for children and families.
Working with the Archbishop of York's Youth Trust and the Evangelism & Discipleship team, we will also produce a series of youth reflections in December.
In Advent and Christmas, we will encourage churches to list the full range of church building and online services taking place and the Resource Hub will provide free adaptable content, download and share (such as customisable videos, images and approaches to online giving).
Online services and events
In collaboration with a range of Christian charities and organisations, we will produce nine online services throughout Advent and Christmas. This will include an online service for each Sunday of Advent, a Christingle with the Children's Society, nine lessons and carols and midnight services. Charities involved include Christian Aid, Church Army, Embrace and Marie Curie. The online weekly services have been very well received on social media and continue to attract a diverse audience including regular churchgoers, people exploring faith and a wide age demographic.
We will also be encouraging churches to share either pre-recorded or live services, if possible, using AChurchNearYou.com and their own websites and social media accounts to promote.
Liturgy, singing and music
For centuries, music has been integral to both Advent and Christmas and this year it will be even more important. We will be sharing Advent, Christmas and Epiphany music from across the traditions that churches can use as part of online and in person services and events. This will be available through the ACNY Resource Hub, where music has already been downloaded more than 250,000 times over the last few months, thanks to the partnership with St Martin-in-the-Fields and RSCM.
The Resource Hub will also host service templates that can be downloaded.
Bookmarks, Christmas cards, banners, flyers, posters, booklets and other printed items will be made available for churches to purchase, as in previous years. Pre-printed materials are available (along with copies of the Reflections booklet) will be made available to order via Church House Publishing before the end of October.
Daily Hope is a free phone number (0800 804 8044) offering music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line. We are delighted that the Comfort and Joy reflections, services and some of the music will also be available throughout Advent and Christmas. This will enable as many people as possible to access the content we are developing.
Resources for services - coming soon
Local Stories - coming soon
Global Stories: Hear from our companion links - coming soon
What are you doing for Christmas?
Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org