This year’s Christmas theme from the Church of England Follow the Star: Join the Song highlights how singing can help us draw closer to God and each other through the journey from Advent to Epiphany.
The shepherds went back,
singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen;
it had been just as the angel had told them.
– Luke 2.20 (GNB)
In the story of the first Christmas, the shepherds are astonished to find the night sky filled with countless voices singing God’s praise.
Amazed as they are, the shepherds take up the angel’s invitation and hurry to Bethlehem. And it isn’t long before the shepherds are singing, too, praising God and sharing the good news of Jesus’ birth.
Centuries later, singing is still central to how millions of people celebrate the good news of Christmas. Singing and hearing carols can enable people of all ages to get in touch with the wonder and the truth of the Christmas story.
Follow the Star digital materials
This year’s online materials will include:
- An invitation to all choirs and singing groups to sing a new version of ‘The First Nowell’ – listen to a preview now.
- Free resources to help choirs of all ages and stages learn and perform the carol
- Daily Advent and Christmas reflections inspired by the words of familiar carols
- Music, social media graphics, PowerPoint assets, posters and other free tools and resources via A Church Near You (registration required).
- Download the Join the Song campaign logo pack in a number of formats for print and digital
- Explore the digital promo planner, blogs and bitesize videos from Digital Labs to support churches in using the digital resources available
- Sign up to receive the Join the Song collective worship resources for use in schools, in church settings and at home
Find out more on the Church of England website.
Follow the Star printed materials
Designed to be given away at Christmas services and events, the Follow the Star booklet is at the heart of the campaign. Richard Carter invites you to hear and respond to the angels’ invitation to gather in the presence of the newborn Jesus.
For each day from Christmas Eve to the Eve of Epiphany (5 January), he offers a short reading from the Bible, a reflection challenging you to see the Christmas story afresh, an invitation to wonder what this Christmas means in your own life, and a prayer to help you treasure this story in your heart. View sample pages of the booklet
There are several ways to join with Follow the Star:
- The booklet contains all 12 reflections and is available as singles, in packs of 10, packs of 50, and large print.
- The bookmark contains a prayer and a link to the online reflections.
- The family prayer card contains an angel-themed activity, either to be given away or made during a service.
- Our first printed Follow the Star Advent Calendar for families – with stickers! is designed to help children and families celebrate Advent and is available as a single copy or a pack of 10.
Supporting generosity at Chrismas with digital giving
Many people attending our services at Christmas want to give, but are often out of the habit of using cash and may be ‘caught short’ at collection time. If you don’t have any form of digital giving, you might want to think about some of these suggestions:
1. Set up online giving
Parish Buying offers an affordable and simple online service called Give A Little, which provides people with the opportunity to give to your church via your website. There is plenty of guidance available on the Parish Buying website to help you to set this up. Once you’ve set up your online giving page either on your church website or on A Church Near You, you can share the link to the page widely.
2. Try a QR code
If you have a Give A Little online giving page, you can create a QR code that sends givers to the page.
QR codes are images that, when scanned on a phone or tablet, take a person directly to a website page. They are easy to use and people are becoming more comfortable using them. Once you have created your QR code, you can add it to anything you print such as a pew card, an order of service, Christmas cards or as some churches have told us - on posters displayed on the back of the toilet door! You can also display it on the screen if you are streaming your service.
3. Go contactless
There are a range of contactless units available on Parish Buying to suit the different requirements of churches. You can also add QR codes around the church building that link to information and online giving.