Tuesday, 12 December 2017
We all know what a nativity scene looks like - Mary & Joseph with the baby in a manger, surrounded by farmyard animals such as sheep, cows and donkeys.
Except no animals are mentioned in the Bible narrative of Jesus' birth. It's assumed that they were there because he was born in a stable and because donkeys were the normal mode of travel and shepherds would most likely have brought sheep or lambs, but none of this is specified in the gospel stories in Luke or Matthew.
Despite that, the focus tonight was on sheep, and one little sheep in particular. Jesus told stories about sheep and shepherds, perhaps because of their visit to him as he lay in the manger?
Hut 11 tonight was based on the parable of the lost sheep in chapter 18 of the gospel of Matthew which reminds us that God always searches for us, no matter how far we go astray.
The nativity tonight also had an interactive element. Behind the faces of each of the characters of the tableau was a mirror so that as we gazed at the image, we found ourselves transported back to that stable and that scene.
We're now halfway through our Advent Calendar and this is the last hut at the Hove Lawns end of the beach. Out next hut is number 194.
Monday, 11 December 2017
The rain of this morning abated shortly after lunch and this evening was clear and cold but without any of the snow being experienced by most of the rest of the country.
Hut 332 contained a little stylised nativity with rather mournful looking sheep gathered around a manger of light.
The manger itself was empty but it gave us a hint of the baby who is to come on Christmas Day, described as the light of the world by the gospel writer John.
There were a number of different kinds of light scattered around the hut, protected from the wind inside lanterns and arranged around a driftwood mirror hanging on the back wall of the hut.
The evening also served as a fundraiser for Cure which provides surgery for children in resource poor countries.
To help with the fundraising and to add to the ambience of the evening the Dawn Chorus choir came along to sing a selection of carols and Christmas songs.
The next hut marks the halfway point in our journey towards Christmas and is number 11 at Hove Lawns.
Sunday, 10 December 2017
Having lost our guiding star yesterday it was nice to have a Star of Wonder in hut 79a tonight.
The team at YWAM (Youth With A Mission) from Holmsted Manor created an interactive installation tonight in hut 79a.
The main focus of the artwork was an abstract star suspended in the middle of the hut and surrounded by a cosmic backdrop made from glow in the dark paint on a black base.
More glow in the dark stars were strewn across the floor and everyone was invited to take a glow star with them as a reminder of the wonder of the Christmas story.
In the same way that Jesus brought light and love to the communities around him, we were encouraged to do the same for the communities that are part of our lives.
The next event is back along Hove Seafront at hut number 332.
Saturday, 9 December 2017
Hut 329 has been part of the Beach Hut Advent Calendar for the last few years and the whole family has been stoic as they have endured rain and storms and wind every time. So it was delightful to have a lovely clear, calm night tonight which was only marred by the fact that the streetlight positioned directly in front of the hut kept randomly switching off and on again every 2-3 minutes.
This hut came complete with it's own live angel who graciously posed for photographs most of the evening.
There was also a troupe of Elvs running around giving out flyers for their Christmas show.
The hut also featured lots of small wooden angels which had been decorated by the members of the 15th Brighton Brownies. Each angel had an individual pattern or design on one side and a wish written on the other.
These angels gently swayed and turned in the gentle breeze that occasionally wafted across the seafront.
They were complemented by star shaped Christmas decorations and string of lights looping across the sky.
The stars in the hut complemented the loss of an important star - the one that we raise up above each hut each night to help people to navigate to us. Sadly we lost that star sometime over the last 24 hours, probably left on the seafront last night.
If anyone knows what happened to it please email us.
The next hut is beside Hove Lawns at number 79a.
Friday, 8 December 2017
One of the nice things about Christmas is the revisiting of the story of Jesus birth. It's a story that never tires and has been told and retold for thousands of years.
This recycling of the story of Jesus is an important part of the tradition of Christmas. The artwork in the hut and arrayed across the seafront was made almost entirely of recycled materials.
The main element was hundreds of bottle bricks - these are unrecyclable plastic bottles which are packed full of similar material which can't be recycled. These can be used as building materials and have the added advantage that they stop a lot of plastic going to landfill.
The bottles filled the hut and were arranged in a labyrinth shape on the seafront. This became the stage for some liturgical dance performed by some children as a choir sang.
Everyone was invited to walk the spiral as a form of prayer and to think about their own relationship with the environment.
In God's view no-one is rubbish or thrown away and we all have value in God's eyes. Jesus coming to earth is the proof of that as he comes to show God's love to us all.
The next hut is close to tonight's as it is number 329.
Thursday, 7 December 2017
HOW DO YOU GET 450 WISHES INTO A BEACH HUT?
Ask The Outdoor Project to create a Christmas tree out of them and put them in hut 177 for the Beach Hut Advent Calendar.
The Outdoor Project run after school clubs and woodcraft school for children all over Brighton and Hove and involved all the children who come to their clubs in this project.
The children were all given discs of locally sourced hazel and asked to decorate them with a Christmas wish. These were all strung together on paracord in a cascading design which created the shape of a Christmas tree which completely filled the hut.
Wishes included 'I wish that all the wishes in the world come true' and drawings of families, smiley faces and their favourite pets.
The floor of the hut was covered in a carpet of dried oak leaves which gave the hut a very natural feel.
The Outdoor Project works with over 20 schools and 450 different children contributed to this installation.
The weather earlier in the day did not bode well for tonight but the skies cleared early in the afternoon and this evening was clear and cold with a great view of the flashing lights on the Rampion wind farm which seems to have started up this month just for us.
The next hut is in the middle of Hove seafront at number 305.
Wednesday, 6 December 2017
The hut tonight was not only themed on the nativity but was also an hommage to the Austrian born artist Friedensrich Hundertwasser.
The children of St. Bartholomews school in Brighton have been doing a project on his work and used his unique artistic style to create a nativity scene with a difference.
Hundertwasser was also an architect and an environmental campaigner and a strong opponent of straight lines, so his art consists of spirals and curves arranged in patterns of very strong colours. His house in Vienna is famous as it is painted in this style and may have been an inspiration for the hut this evening.
The children had re-imagined the traditional nativity characters of Joseph, Mary and the baby in the manger, as Hundertwasser might have painted them.
These were beautifully rendered in bold patterns and colours which stood out in the darkness.
Even the star that hung above the stable scene was painted with spirals and patterns as well as being surrounded with lights.
Our next hut will also feature artwork by children and is number 177.
Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Tonight we were asked to reflect on the Word Made Flesh, one of the phrases used to describe Jesus in the Gospel of John.
The hut was dressed in red satin drapes and ribbons representing the womb and reminding us of the human reality of God become man in Jesus.
Each of the thirty ribbons that hung in the hut had 'the word made flesh' written on them in a different language, for this is a message for all.
One person who came to the hut immediately saw these words in her own native language and was touched at how this made her feel that she belonged.
Alongside this beautiful visual we were treated to an occasional reading of a poem by Malcolm Guite called O Emmanuel.
O come, O come, and be our God-with-us
O long-sought With-ness for a world without,
O secret seed, O hidden spring of light.
Come to us Wisdom, come unspoken Name
Come Root, and Key, and King, and holy Flame,
O quickened little wick so tightly curled,
Be folded with us into time and place,
Unfold for us the mystery of grace
And make a womb of all this wounded world.
O heart of heaven beating in the earth,
O tiny hope within our hopelessness
Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,
To touch a dying world with new-made hands
And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.
LouLou Morris was the artist on behalf of Chichester Cathedral in collaboration with Marguerite Saffery using the hut belonging to Anthony Bradley.
Our next hut is number 227 beside The View on Hove seafront.