Christmas/Holidays Plan

Christmas/Holidays Plan

Advent Calendar Themes


God As Suffering Parent A meditation on motherhood, Mary and Christmas

A Mormon Christmas After I converted to Mormonism, would I have to give up beloved wintertime rituals?

The Search for Jesus
Beliefnet's comprehensive look at the Biblical scholarship and debate around the question, Who Was Jesus?

Christmas at Beliefnet
Spotlight on Choirs. You know your choir is really, really god. Want to get the word out? Send us a CD of your choir singing great Advent/Christmas music. Our panel, headed by choral professionals, will select the best submissions. If yours is chosen, we'll spotlight your choir as part of our holiday programming.

The Breda Cathedral Boys Choir

Make an angel ornament

Why I'm an Advent Christian
with a study guide for people in the pews to examine the meaning of the season. A controversial piece by Biblical scholar Luke Timothy Johnson
about what's not new for Christmas-the good news from God. Plus a very popular poll: Are the Biblical accounts of Christ's birth factually correct?

Being Queer at Christmas
Holidays can be difficult for gays and lesbians. Let's take what we can from the holiday culture and make ourselves comfortable. By Mary Ann Moore

All I Want For Christmas
You've heard of the Gay Agenda. Here it is, in the holiday spirit. By Deborah Levinson

How our Advent wreath helps us stop time by Jean Fitzpatrick Come, Lord Jesus
Advent calm amid Christmas frenzy by Christine Whittaker

Celebrating the Nativity Orthodox-style
Western holiday traditions in an Eastern faith by Faither John Mack

No Chipmunks, Please, We're Orthodox
The benefits of an Old Calendar Christmas by Philip Kontos

`I Do In Part Believe It'
Shakespeare and the spiritual schizophrenia of Christmas by Harvey Cox

Perfect Divine Timing
A nun helps to save an elderly pen pal in the nick of time

Miracles Afoot
A man receives help from a teen, and helps the young man in more ways than one

A Miraculous Christmas Reunion
Two women both in need of care find they've got even more in common than they realize

Appointment with Santa
A story of how mother and child happen upon what they really needed for Christmas

A Christmas Stranger
An impromptu homeless guest gives more to a family than he receives on Christmas Eve

Just How Jolly?
Yes, there is a St. Nicholas, but he wasn't the jovial fellow most people imagine by Terry Mattingly (Note: May be best to use this Dec. 6, for St. Nicholas Day)

Season's Greetings-From Within the Family
How religion is being privatized, even at home, by Wade Clark Roof

The Creche and the Cash Register

Can you still keep store and keep Christmas, by Carol Mueller The Magic Moment of the Magi

Advent Calendar Themes

Dec. 1 - Advent wreath and candles
Excerpts or links: Meaning behind and blessing of 1999 article: Jean Fitzpatrick on what the wreath means to her family Audio clip of Merton poem (permission granted; Becky does ram file) Boards: how do you spiritually prepare for Christmas?

Dec. 2 - Crafts with meaning: Jesse tree and chrismons
Book excerpts (and diagrams): what they are, what the symbols mean, and how to make them (Neuberger book-permission granted. Need art help with diagrams) Community: Celebrate your family's events (Jesse tree) with a Bnet celebration kit

Dec. 3 - Christmas carols
What's your favorite carol poll
Quiz: Carol origins
Sound clips from Bnet contest (Becky does ram files)

Dec. 4 - Charity and giving
1999 Article: Buy your brother a goat
Feature: Promote charity channel and volunteer boards
Factoids: Salvation Army Santas
Article: inspiration story "waiting for Christmas"
Link: Stats on Xmas giving

Dec. 5 This soulful side of Christmas cartoons
Chart: Grinch, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, etc.
Which kids' holiday shows have the best [religious/moral] messages? Which are just fluff? Linus in Charlie Brown special quotes gospel of Luke, etc. (Ellen to help)

Dec. 6 Saint Nicholas' feast day
1999 article: Who was he, really? --St. Nick KOs Heretic
1999 article: Mouw's defense of Santa
Link: legends of and ethnic traditions (in France, he comes on a donkey, etc.)
Art: Byzantine icon of Nicholas of Myra

Dec. 7 Mormon Traditions
(talked to Peggy; Mormons don't celebrate Advent, but if we spin this right, it will be OK)
Audioclip of Mormon tabernacle choir
1999 Article: How Mormons celebrate--Kimball
Trivia: Number of lights used in massive Mormon tree displays, etc.

Dec. 8 Mary and Motherhood
Audio: Ave Maria (Liturgical Press/permission granted) or Dixit Maria (Bnet member choir)
Earlier article: Iris Krasnow's essay "Surrendering to Motherhood" or Wendy Wright on being a mother
Community: promote birth announcements and prayer circles for mothers
1999 Article: Frederica on mom of jailed boy

Dec. 9 Books package (Paul and Lauren to spearhead)
Reviews and excerpts: best books to buy as gifts
1999 article: Karen McPherson on best books for kids (should we reprise this?)

Dec. 10 Food feature
Excerpt: Religious legend of candy cane
Recipe: Bake angel food cake
Links: Ethnic food traditions (Polish bake cake with hidden treasure inside, etc.)
Links: Fruitcake monks--what do they believe? And do they think fruitcake-making can be spiritual?

Dec. 11 Music picks
Best CDs for the season (Paul R)

Dec. 12 Angels
Article: Weber on how angels in the Bible aren't Hallmark-y
Boards: 'I've met an angel' - members discuss
Craft: How to make an angel ornament
Music clip: Gloria

Dec. 13 Understanding the Nativity narrative
New and old articles: Bible scholars square off: Spong, Witherington, Borg, Luke Timothy Johnson. What parts of the narrative are strictly metaphorical, etc.
Poll (best-performing poll of early 2000): Is the Nativity narrative true? No, but it doesn't affect my faith, etc.
Dialogue group?

Dec 14 Animals
Live video: from Crystal Cathedral of animal Xmas pageant
Links and excerpts: Sheep and shepherd lore, talking animals at manger legends, spider/tinsel legend
Art: reprise pet blessing gallery?
Audioclip: Bnet member choir sings Lauridsen's magnum mysterium

Dec. 15 Star of Bethlehem
Articles: astronomers search for star (Borg and Easterbrook)
Craft link: Moravian star project
Article: Hubble highlight
Boards: Astronomy/searching for Star of Bethlehem

Dec. 16 Las Posadas (Hispanic festival--"do you have lodging?") and the idea of No Room at the Inn
Article: Witherington on "no room"
Links: stable lore, recipes, manger and animals facts
Inspirational story: homeless man-family happens to find him on street and invite him for dinner
Article: travel?
make an eye of God
more to come

Dec. 17: Glad tidings [Steve/others, what's the best date to feature e-cards?]
Feature: send an e-greeting card
Inspiration article: nun with sick pen pal
Celebration kits: announce your own glad tidings (births, weddings, etc.)

Dec. 18 O Antiphons (special songs--one verse sung each day in nine days before Xmas)
Music clip from Benedictine monks--permission granted
Text of verses and symbolism behind
Link: NPR feature

Dec. 19 Bethlehem, the place OR retailers' hell
Gallery link: virtual tour of Bethlehem
Factoids from Crossan: what Bethlehem was like in Jesus' day
Streaming video: last year's Mass from Bethlehem
1999 Article: how to keep Christmas while keeping store
1999 Excerpt: Frederica on thrift store
Note: no commerce links on this page if we do a feature on retailers

Dec. 20: Second food feature OR second music feature
Links: mincement pie legend--spices the wise men brought, shaped like a manger More recipes to come
More Bnet choir members featured, depending on volume of entries
Results of carol poll

Dec. 21 Trees and plants
Excerpt: Christmas tree blessing
Links: lore and legends, especially about holly and poinsettia

Dec. 22 Wise men on the way (reprise this on January 6, the Epiphany)
Spong and Witherington articles on Wise Men/gentiles
Audio: Merton poem
Excerpt or link: meaning of names and gifts
Excerpt or link: Blessing house with chalk
Recipe: wise men cake with prize inside (permission granted)

Dec. 23 Peace on earth
Community: Middle East prayer circle
Feature: Pass the peace
Articles: one or two appropriate ones from UN summit
Article: inspiration story

Dec 24 All is calm
1999 Article: Whittaker article on calm amidst Xmas frenzy
Guided meditation? on calm
Links: Silent Night's unusual history (racing to do something beautiful for Xmas at the last minute) and other factoids
Music clip: Silent Night

Dec. 25 Light of World/God With Us
Still working on this; possibilities: audio of Xmas messages: Pope, Billy Graham, TD Jakes