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20 November, 2015
A new online advent calendar will bring the spirit of Christmas to life with 24 specially created videos made by Church of Scotland ministers.
The Moderator of the General Assembly believes it will help anyone seeking to find the true festive spirit amid the "rampant commercialism" which now dominates the weeks of Advent. The online calendar will release a daily video from a unique collection whose tone ranges from the joyful to the spiritual. The calendar is available to download now, before it goes live on the 1st of December.
Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison says the online calendar is an imaginative way to reach out to the many people who feel a connection to the Church, and often attend at Christmas time.
"It's great to see the Church reaching out to the wider public who feel the festive spirit is being lost to rampant commercialism. When even the large retailers are using their Christmas adverts to highlight social isolation, and shoppers are fighting in stores over cheap TVs on Black Friday, it's easy to see why people feel something is missing. The advent calendar is an excellent antidote to that. People will be able to dip in each day to watch a short video made by one of our ministers, and take a little time to themselves to think about why this is such a special time of year. I hope many people will benefit from it."
Every day of advent will see a new video message released and, by clicking on the window for that day, people can view the short film. The calendar is online now and can be accessed via the Church of Scotland facebook page and on the Church website. It's hoped it will be widely liked and shared on social media.
"Making our video has been a lot of fun," says Rev MaryAnn Rennie, minister at Dunfermline Abbey, who was one of those asked to contribute a short film. "As a Church of Scotland minister you are used to tackling new challenges and being out of your comfort zone, but this was a new experience. Each of us was invited to take a line from the Bible, a carol or a poem to give us inspiration. I chose a verse from a popular carol, 'How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven' and involved our youth group in making the film. I'm really pleased with the end result and I can't wait to see what my colleagues have produced. I'm hoping we may have some potential Oscar winners in our ranks."
Filming locations have ranged from Israel to Orkney, and from busy foodbanks to quiet sea shores. Most of the short videos were shot by the ministers themselves using their smartphones or hand-held cameras. Themes they've covered include hope, the desire for peace and God's love. Others recognise Christmas is a difficult time for many people, and reflect on those experiencing loneliness, poverty and loss.
The online calendar is the latest innovation to come out of the Church's Tomorrow's Calling campaign, which is seeking to recruit trainees for ordained ministry in the Church. A series of high quality videos highlighting the work of parish ministers and chaplains have been viewed more than 100,000 times since the campaign was launched in May. It's hoped the interactive calendar will be equally popular in spreading the vibrant message of the Church and its continued relevance in modern Scotland.