Alternative Advent 4December 18, 2011
Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent, a season devoted to waiting, yearning, and hoping for the coming of our Savior as we celebrate and reflect on his first coming. Yet, it seems Advent is too often reduced to merely lighting a few candles in church services. So, this year I am reflecting on a few efforts that take Advent to the streets in hopes the spirit of Christmas will trump the focus on shopping. One idea that has been used in several locations to accomplish this goal is turning street windows into a public Advent calendar. This idea seems to especially occur in England. An Advent calendar is where one opens a window each day (for 24 days) to find a poem or saying or even a piece of chocolate or small toy, which is designed to get one focused on the anticipation of Christmas coming. The idea of using Advent windows on the street involves getting 24 houses with each house being one day of the Advent calendar. The individuals create artwork on their window and then cover it up until their chosen day. Thus, the neighborhood is slowly transformed as Christmas nears. Some news articles about such efforts can be found here, here, and here. One group even has a website to feature their Advent windows. This is an interesting idea that attempts to bring the message of the season to where people can experience it and that can help bring neighbors together.