So for the second year running I am overseeing the Share the Hope Project which came out of an idea to 'reclaim Advent' from the craziness of Christmas prep that has swallowed it up. I mean let's face it, it's just the second week of November and we are well into the consumer hype aren't we? Christmas trees are up (and in my local supermarket it has been for weeks!), the dulcet tunes of tinny Christmas carols are filling our high street stores, the Tesco cracker hat is already adorning their logo, the Christmas ads are upon us (lovely though they are) and the dreaded conversations about who is 'having Auntie Marge this year' are once more upon us.
I don't know about you, but from about September onwards, as hard as I try otherwise, my thoughts are drawn to Christmas. To the hosting, to the meal planning, to the presents, to the entertaining, to Christmas cards and decorations and so much more. It is so busy that by the time Christmas arrives I'm a bit fed up to be honest. Which is crazy isn't it? One of the most special times of the year, spiritually and otherwise, and we get too caught up in the preparation to enjoy it properly. If anyone does notice Advent it's usually just about the chocolate in the calendar (although at least now we can get some good Christian ones - plug here for the Real Advent Calendar...). My kids love Advent as it's the only time of year they get to eat chocolate before Christmas!
So last year I came up with the idea of trying to encourage people to spend just a few minutes each day thinking about the hope that Advent is really all about. It is about preparation in a way, but not preparation for just one day, but preparing for the coming of a King. And, so last year we launched Share the Hope, a sort of online Advent Calendar for the digital age, sharing a message of hope each day from 1-25 December (yes I know Advent starts on 30th November but we are going with the masses ok?). And I'm so excited that we are back for a second year!
Just like a traditional advent calendar, each day will tell part of the Christmas story according to Scripture, but will have an added reflection on hope for people to think about. These have been given by a range of people across the wider Church, including Vicars & Pastors, an Arts Chaplain, an International blogger, a Charity director and the Bishop of Lewes to name just a few. It promises to give a really varied view of what Christian hope is all about and will hopefully encourage people away from the hectic Christmas preparation for just a few minutes!
So I encourage you to go and sign up! The reflections will be published daily and you can sign up to receive the daily doses of hope online at: www.sharethehopeuk.wordpress.com or on Facebook: Facebook.com/Sharethehopeuk & Twitter: @sharethehopeuk
And don’t forget it’s all about sharing the hope, so get sharing and please help us spread the word by going and telling someone about it! Thank you :)