Kirk launches online Advent calendar

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The spirit of Christmas is being brought to life with an online Advent calendar featuring 25 specially created videos made by Church of Scotland ministers from parishes across Scotland which starts today.

A new film is being released each day, reflecting on a word relating to a different aspect of the season. The tone ranges from joyful to spiritual and some tackle difficult topics such as domestic violence and loneliness. They are aimed at anyone seeking the true festive spirit amid the “rampant commercialism” which now dominates the weeks of Advent.

The first video, on December 1, features the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Right Rev Dr Russell Barr, reflecting on the theme of “Journey” at Glasgow’s Queen Street train station.

He also features in the last video, due to be released on Christmas Day, reflecting on the theme of “Shelter” at the site of Glasgow’s former Rottenrow maternity Hospital, where he was born. He said: “The Advent season is when the church picks up the Christmas story. Beginning in Glasgow’s Queen Street station, the Advent Video project will take you on a fascinating journey of discovery. You will learn so much more about the deep meaning of Christmas and so much more about yourself.

“We’ve already seen thousands of people signing up to receive daily email reminders when each door on our online calendar opens, and we’re confident the videos will be viewed more than 250,000 times.”

Rev Valerie Allen, convener of the Church of Scotland’s Violence Against Women Task Group, has created a hard-hitting film which reflects on Christmas traditionally seeing a spike in reports of domestic violence. Valerie, who recently climbed all of Scotland’s Munros to raise more than £4,500 for charities tackling domestic abuse, said: “No woman should have to endure violence, and the reason some have to endure should be challenged. I hope this Advent meditation will help break the silence surrounding the violence that many women needlessly endure.”

This year’s online Advent calendar is more ambitious than last year, which was the first to feature 24 short videos which were viewed more than 180,000 times. Rev Shuna Dicks of Aberlour Parish in Moray is heavily involved in supporting Syrian families who have moved to Forres, and reflects on the word “Refugee”. The minister, who is the spokeswoman of the Moray Supports Refugees group, said: “When you become a refugee you leave your old life behind and have to begin again. It is important we help our new neighbours, and they feel welcomed and valued.”

Other participants include Louise Purden, who is currently studying for the ministry at New College in Edinburgh, who focuses on the word “Goodwill”, British Army chaplain Rev Chris Kellock, who worked in an Ebola field hospital in Sierra Leone in 2014, reflects on the word “Separation” and Angela Brydson, Deacon of Annandale and Eskdale is concentrating on the meaning of “Joy”. Rev Rosie Addis, chaplain to deaf people in the east of Scotland, uses the word “Holy” to promote the Albany Church for the Deaf in Edinburgh.

The online Advent calendar is at this link