Online Advent calendar created by the world

Posted Nov 17, 2016

[Anglican Communion News Service] Christians across the world are being invited to celebrate the season of Advent through an interactive, multilingual online calendar. The website goes live on Advent Sunday (Nov. 27) in nine languages including, for the first time, Arabic. It allows people around the globe to create together an advent calendar with images shared by their mobile phones.

Advent, which runs from Sunday, Nov. 27 to Christmas Eve, is the season when Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is traditionally marked with the putting up of an Advent calendar to count down the days. The calendars have daily windows which are opened to reveal images, small chocolates or other gifts.

AdventWord is a new twist on this old theme: it invites people to sign up to receive a daily meditation. Recipients are invited to submit a photograph in response on their social media account with the hashtag #AdventWord. The photographs are pulled together in real time to create a living Advent calendar.

The initiative is jointly run by the U.S.-based Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE), a religious order of men in Cambridge, Massachusetts; with the Lady Doak College, a women’s college in south India; and the Anglican Communion Office.

AdventWord is a wonderfully innovative way to engage people in prayer all over the world,” the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, the Rt. Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said. “I am so encouraged to see such a creative use of social media to bring the community of Christ together.

“The Bible calls on us to bring prayers and petitions to God. I urge Anglicans everywhere to sign up and get involved in what will be an extraordinary, powerful and global wave of prayer.”

Brother Jim Woodrum, one of the SSJE monks, commented: “When I was a kid I loved opening the windows in the Advent calendar. Each window contained a message that pointed to the great mystery of Christmas. And now, to my delight, you can actually log on to and pull back the windows for your own Advent calendar.

“And what’s more, you can add your own photos and experience the joy of praying with others from around the globe throughout the season of Advent.”

The AdventWord initiative was first launched in 2013. Since then it has been improved so that the daily reflection is now sent at 5am in the morning in each recipient’s home time zone. Last year it became multi-lingual with versions available in English, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil and American Sign Language. This year, thanks to St George’s Anglican Cathedral in Jerusalem, it will also be available in Arabic.