Friday, 14 December 2018

14th December - Hut 332

The stars of hut 332 on the 14th night of our final Advent Calendar, were the Dawn Chorus, a community choir who came and sang a selection of Christmas sings beautifully on the seafront tonight.

The Dawn Chorus is led by the ever energetic Julie Nye who came tonight dressed in a kind of Christmas/Santa Onesey which helped give her conducting of the choir a pizazz that isn't normally seen at weekly rehearsals!

The choir meets on Friday mornings at St. Luke's Prestonville in Brighton and on Thursday mornings at the West Street Loft in Shoreham.  It's open to anyone who wants to come along whether you're confident, tentative or a non-singer but are just interested in and informal, friendly, fun singing group.

It's just as well that the choir was the star tonight as due to rust and cold we were unable to get the locks of the hut open and so had to improvise a star decoration on the outside of hut 332.

Improvisation is not a bad theme to be reminded of at Advent as Joseph and Mary had to improvise a lots when they found themselves in a strange town about to give birth.

Finding a stable for shelter and a cattle trough as a bed for the baby all show some ingenuity on their part, perhaps a reflection of the creative genius of God.

Tomorrow we're at Hut 424 when one of the Beyond team will be creating the art.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

13th December - Hut 94

Advent is a season of waiting and expectation which is why Advent Calendars were invented in the first place - as a way of marking that waiting and enhancing the countdown to Christmas Day.

Hut 94 posed an Advent question for us - what are we waiting for?  This was marked out as a giant question mark made up of tea lights that sat in front of the hut which only had the doors open a crack, giving a hint of what was beyond.

People who came along were invited to take a sparkly star and write a prayer or question of their own on it before placing it underneath one of the tea lights so that they glittered in the candle light.  

These prayers will be taken back to Chichester Cathedral and added to a prayer installation there.

 The next hut is 332 and back in the section between the King Alfred centre and Hove Lagoon and will feature the Dawn Chorus.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

12th December - Hut 79a

Halfway through our final Beach Hut Advent Calendar and this was our first really cold night.  There was a constant, bitter wind blowing from the East all evening which brought a real Arctic chill to the seafront.

Tamara and her team from YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Holmsted Manor battled against the wind to keep their stars relatively still by tethering them with nylon, rock weights and gaffer tape.

Three simple stars (Trinity?) were emblazoned with a single word each - GOD - IS - INTERESTED.

Many characters in the nativity story were interested in the birth of the Saviour of the World, so interested that they followed the star to find the baby in the stable.

The Angels travelled from heaven to deliver the good news, the Shepherds travelled to Bethlehem to see this wonderful thing and the Wise Men travelled from the East to find the newborn king.

All of this pilgrimage is caused because God shows such interest in us by coming to Earth and bringing light into the darkness.

Part of the Christian message throughout the Advent season and at Christmas is that we affirm that God is.

 The next hut is number 94 which is also beside Hove Lawns.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

11th December - Hut 253

Hut 253 presented us with a whole scene of star followers and the hint of a nativity for the first time this year.

Annelies Clarke was the artist who created this wonderful image.

The foreground consisted of three shadowy figures heading away from us, towards Bethlehem which was very small in the distance at the bottom of the hut.  

If you looked closely you could see a tiny silhouette of the stage which would be their final destination.

Above this stable was a beautiful golden star with rays of light beaming out to all corners of the sky which was strewn with a constellation of stars which dripped across the blue backdrop which was itself made up of stars.

Hidden in the distance behind the stars was a silvery choir of heavenly angels, just visible through the sparkling firmament as they made their way towards the holy scene taking place in Bethlehem.

Added to all this beauty in the hut was a fantastic choir who sang in perfect harmony for almost the whole hour of the hut opening.

Tomorrow we head East to hut 79a beside Hove Lawns.

Monday, 10 December 2018

10th December - Hut 262

You may have heard that necessity is the mother of invention and that was the background to hut 262 tonight.  

Sadly the owner and artist was delayed coming back to the  UK from a trip abroad and so was mid-air this afternoon and unable to come and create an art installation or even to open the hut.

So emergency artistic juices got to work and we were able to create an installation projected onto the front of the hut thanks to a little time and the wonders of modern technology.

We had a small, self-powered projector running a star-shaped animation of the journey to Bethlehem and all those who followed the star to find the baby born in the manger.

This turned the whole front of the beach hut into a mini seafront cinema as we watched the animation and listened to a beautiful version of 'Silent Night'.

It was a mesmerising show and all those who came along tonight watched it a number of times in quiet contemplation. 

The animation was originally created by Jon Birch and distributed through Proost and was adapted for tonight, placing the animation within a star and adding and end tag saying "Follow the Star".

The full video is below.

Tomorrow we're at hut 253 with a professional artist and a full choir.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

9th December - Hut 402

We trekked to hut 402 tonight, following a beautiful crescent moon all the way to Hove Lagoon.  

There we found a symphony in blue courtesy of the Mother's Union of Chichester Diocese.  

There are branches of the Mother's Union all over East and West Sussex and the two main contributors to the hut tonight were the Saltdean and Hurstpierpoint chapters.

There is a deep association between the colour blue and Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she is almost always depicted wearing blue.  There are various explanations for this but the most practical is that blue was made from lapis lazuli which was more precious than gold due to it's rarity and therefore was a highly prized colour, and therefore fit for the mother of God.

Mary is also sometimes referred to as 'The Star of the Morning' because as the morning star announces the dawn, so Mary announces the birth of the Saviour.

At the threshold of the hut tonight was a Mother's Union kneeler set before a dish containing a small nativity scene and some homemade star biscuits emblazoned with the Mother's Union logo.

The next hut is in the middle of Hove seafront and is number 262

Saturday, 8 December 2018

8th December - Hut 39

Tonight we followed the stars to the East as we headed for hut 39 beside Hove Lawns.

What we found there were some of the largest stars so far in a variety of styles and decoration.

The weather was slightly kinder to us than the last few nights as we had no rain but the wind was pretty strong causing the stars to swing and twirl in a beautifully graceful way.

Added to this was a backdrop of silver streamers which rustled and rippled, adding an animated and acoustically interesting background to the whole scene.

Abigail put this hut together and is a first time participant and we had good crowds of friends and family, strangers and those familiar with the whole event.

Tomorrow we follow the star far along to the west as we're at hut 402 by Hove Lagoon.

Friday, 7 December 2018

7th December - Hut 191

Hut 191 was ablaze with stars and stables and decorations and lights tonight thanks to Deepdene school.

There were so many lights on the hut that the school had to hire a generator to power them all.

Most of the pupils of the school were involved in one way or another, and the range of creative crafts on show were really impressive.

Some had painted winter scenes on black card or written and decorated Christmas messages in a similar style.

Others had made  harlequin style dancers that cavorted across the ceiling of the hut and looked down on the rest of the decoration.  

Towards the floor of the hut was a series of Jesus triptychs just above some little matchbox nativity scenes, each created by a different child and each with their own little tea light candle.

The floor itself was a carpet of light with a hint of the houses of Bethlehem alongside Christmas style lanterns.

We were treated to carols by the school choir and some fabulous solo performers who managed really well in the cold, strong wind.

Tomorrow we head to Hove Lawns and hut 39.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

6th December - Hut 227

The weather took centre stage this evening, defying the forecasters who predicted that it would be mild and dry. What the team from St. Bartholomew's school got instead was continuous rain and a strong, blustery wind which made the whole event a bit of a challenge.

The children of year 6 at the school had learnt how to craft beautiful three dimensional stars and written their own proverbs on each star.

The stars were black, gold, silver or white and were in variety of sizes and styles.  The weather came into it's own as the wind caused the stars to dance and swirl around.  

The proverbs were sometimes just one word repeated on all the surfaces of the star or made up a phrase such as 'See the Beauty in Others'.

They not only filled the hut but also lined up along the apex, and forming and interesting contrast with the stripes of the doors and surrounded by Christmas lights which twinkled and shone in the rain.

Despite the weather we still had a good number of people drop by including some visitors who came direct to the hut from Hove station, having just traveled down from York.  We were also visited by a TV crew from Meridian and so should be on the TV sometime over the weekend.

Tomorrow we're at hut 191 with another school.