The Church of England’s Advent and Christmas campaign for 2020, Comfort and Joy, has been launched with a special purpose to console people who are suffering because of the pandemic and may not be in the mood for “jubilation”.
The C of E website says: “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.”
It asks the Church to draw on St Paul’s words in Romans 12.15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”
It continues: “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 Joy will 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.”
A booklet of short daily reflections, from Christmas Day until 2 January, Comfort and Joy: Nine lessons and carols for Christmas, is due to be published on 15 October by Church House Publishing. It features contributions from well-known figures including the Revd Kate Bottley, Jonathan Bryan, Chine McDonald, Sally Phillips, and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. It is edited by the Archdeacon of Wandsworth, the Ven. John Kiddle.
The reflections will also be available, free, via app, smart speaker, audio, and email. A series of reflections for young people will be published in December.
The booklet will be available to buy from chpublishing.co.uk. Single copies cost 80p; a pack of ten, £7; and a pack of 50, £30. Booklets can also be ordered through Christian bookshops.
During Advent and Christmas, churches will be encouraged to list services on the A Church Near You website, which includes a Resource Hub containing content that can be adapted by parishes, such as videos, images, and methods of online giving.
Churches will also be able to upload pre-recorded or live services on A Church Near You, as well as on their own websites and social-media accounts. Music will be provided in the Resource Hub to use during either physical or online services.
Free webinars are being put on to help parishes to make the most of the resources.
The national Church will produce nine online services, in collaboration with charities and organisations, during Advent and Christmas. These will include an online service for each Sunday of Advent, a Christingle service hosted with the Children’s Society, a Nine Lessons and Carols, and a midnight mass.
The reflections, services, and some music will be available on the Daily Hope phone line: 0800 804 8044.