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.
This Christmas the Church will need, in the words of St Paul in Romans 12.15, to ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep’. 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.
What are the key elements of the campaign?
As in previous years, the national Church will work with dioceses and churches to make a range of content available, branded with the Comfort and Joy theme:
We are aiming to work with a number of public figures to produce short reflections exploring the theme. Comfort and Joy: Nine Lessons and Carols for Christmas will mirror the structure of a traditional carol service, exploring both biblical texts and the words of much-loved Christmas carols. The reflections will be published in booklet form by Church House Publishing and made available freely via app, smart speaker, audio and email.
In Advent and Christmas, we will encourage churches to list the full range of church building and online services taking place and the Resource Hub will provide a range of free content to customise, download and share (such as customisable videos, images and approaches to online giving).
Online services and events
Working with a range of Christian organisations, we will produce national online services throughout Advent and Christmas. This will include a national online service for each Sunday of Advent, a Christingle, nine lessons and carols and midnight services. These national weekly services have been very well received on social media and continue to attract a diverse audience including regular churchgoers and people exploring faith. We will be encouraging churches to share either pre-recorded or live services, if possible.
Singing and music
For centuries, music has been integral to both Advent and Christmas and this year it will be even more important. We are exploring ways in which socially distanced and online choirs and worship groups may be able to share music from across the traditions. This will include providing music for churches to use as part of online and physical services and events, building on the success of the 110,000+downloads of music over the first ten weeks, thanks to the partnership with St Martin-in-the-Fields and RSCM.
Bookmarks, Christmas cards, banners, flyers, posters and other printed items will be made available for churches to purchase, as in previous years.
How can your church prepare for Advent and Christmas?
Find out how you can register for free for the ACNY Resource Hub. This will be the home of the digital resources for lay and ordained leaders to use and share with church communities.
This page will be updated in early September with more information on printed and online content and resources.
Thank you for your support as we work collaboratively to build a campaign and suite of resources that provide Comfort and Joy for communities across England and in Europe. The prayer of the teams working on this is to bring the Christian message of hope and peace at a very challenging and difficult time.
Church of England Communications