Interview: A time to celebrate

30th November 2021

Advent around the world

Emily Hatton, who features in our Advent campaign, prepares for her first Christmas as a Youth Minister.

How did you get involved in the diocesan Christmas campaign and what is it?

I’m a youth minister in Clevedon and I’ve had the privilege of working with Movement, the Go Team and Send a Cow over the years, which means being involved with their joint Advent Around the World project was such a privilege. It’s an amazing resource with videos of the Send a Cow community in Africa reading Christmas scriptures, challenges, questions, links to the work SaC are doing, and it’s one I will most certainly be using with my own young people this advent.

One of the things I especially like about the resource is that those who read the scriptures read them with such joy from the depths of their hearts, that it’s almost like hearing them for the first time. It really gets you thinking about what Christmas is all about.

What does Christmas mean to you?

For me, Christmas is (obviously) all about Jesus. But it’s so hard not to get caught up in the commercialisation of Christmas that’s happened in our developed countries, isn’t it? We all know that saying that Jesus is the reason for the season, but we also all know how easy it is to get distracted by the Christmas rush: shopping for presents, planning for events, making sure that everyone can make the family Christmas party… I won’t deny that I find it easy to get caught up in that too, but for me, Christmas is about remembering that God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son – God incarnate. God himself came fully God, yet fully human too, and so he has experienced and understand every trial and triumph we face ourselves. Because of the Christmas story, we get to boldly approach the throne of the one who came to save and restore us. So for me, Christmas is really exciting!

The advent campaign has an international flavour. I hear you spent time in Africa. What international insights do you have from your experiences and work with the campaign?

Before I became a youth minister, I spent some time in South Africa, volunteering at a cluster foster care village called LIV Village. My mum has also worked for SaC for as long as I can remember, and so I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering there and getting to know and support the SaC projects. As you can imagine, Africa really has captured my heart. I’ve never spent Christmas itself over there, but I guess you could say I have some “international insights” from my experience. With Send a Cow in my genes, I’ve always appreciated the virtual gifts that they do, where you can by a cow, a goat, a clean latrine, a tip-tap (amongst lots of other things) that a Send a Cow family or community get to benefit from. There’s something so special about receiving a virtual gift that helps someone else, someone you’ll never meet, who will get more from your one gift that you’ll probably get from all your gifts under the tree.

This is your first Christmas as a Youth Minister, what plans are you making to celebrate with young people in your church?

Yeah, so I’m looking forward to getting fully stuck in with all the activities and fun that’ll be happening over the next couple of months: Christingle, carol services, a community Christmas tree festival, and events with the local schools. Possibly most excitingly, we have a number of the youth group getting baptised in the weeks leading up to Christmas. What an amazing time to see teenagers commit their lives to living wholeheartedly for Jesus!! We’ll of course be celebrating with Christmas films and gingerbread house decorating!!

How are the young people feeling about Christmas this year, after such a different Christmas last year?

After such a restricted Christmas last year, I think the young people are just looking forward to taking up their Christmas traditions again. I know my youth are especially looking forward to Christmas shopping and the markets, seeing their family and friends and not being constrained to just the one day of seeing people! Christmas carols were really missed last year, so being able to sing again is really exciting!

You are also connected with Movement. What plans do they have to celebrate Christmas this year?

Movement will be celebrating Christmas together this year for sure. We’ll be having a team Christmas meal which I’m looking forward to, especially after not being able to do that last year. There’ll be a final Movement event of the year in Chippenham at the beginning of December and I know the team have been working on a new Bible reading plan called “This Christmas” which will be one to look out for too.

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