Sunday, December 15, 2013


Our Nativity Service this morning was in two parts.

Carolyn started us off with something very handy for Christmas!

And then Cooler invited us to imagine a nativity complete with mobile phones!

Nativity Service   Jaffa Cakes Talk                          15th Dec2013
Some children unwrap the large Jaffa Cakes box from under the tree.
This will come in handy!
There’s some messages on it…
What do we need to survive Christmas?
Lots of patience and resources to cope with difficult journeys and unlikely visitors arriving at inconvenient times?
Has Jesus been through that?
Yes certainly. Dealing with smelly visitors with muddy feet in the middle of the night who bring their pets with them when you’ve just had a baby! It’s not exactly the perfect Christmas you planned from John Lewis! Then the next minute you’re dealing with royalty and then you’re running for your life.
Do we really need to ‘survive’ Christmas?
When we read this we all know it refers to rushing around buying stuff, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, organising, trying not to succumb to a cold or flu and keeping all the family happy! But this has very little to do with the birth of our Saviour.
Indeed, during a session with M:Ocean recently we asked ‘What would Jesus think about Christmas?’ The children thought he’d actually be confused as he wouldn’t recognise what he had started! (He might also get presents from everyone in the world!)
Or actually, can we not ‘survive’ without it?
Without God sending Jesus into the world to live and die for us we are lost without hope in the darkness in all sorts of ways. We might have a ‘survival instinct’ but cannot ‘survive’.
But Jesus is the light of the world, the hope of the world, the way, the truth and the life and ‘Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ Psalm 23:6
Typical of our culture today, we are tempted by bigger and greater and more. A bulging stocking is better than a skinny one. Half the world ‘over fills’ themselves while the others struggle.
What does God say about this?
Jesus had strong warnings for ‘those who pile up riches for themselves but are not rich in God's sight.” Luke 12:19-21
But God is good and generous
Psalm 23:5 says that God will prepare a banquet for me where all my enemies can see me; he will welcome me as an honoured guest and fill my cup to the brim.’ Or in some versions, ‘my cup will overflow’.
Romans 15:13
 ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’
John 10:10 says, ‘I have come in order that you might have life - life in all its fullness.’
Very funny!
How do we measure up?
Luke 6:38 ‘Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands—all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.”
And just to double check the standards… How about this version;
‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’
God doesn’t give stingy portions: measured, mean and sparing. His love pours out and overflows if only we will receive it.
We can probably relate to this joke! And it is a big box of biscuits you have to admit. But it’s still not going to last forever.
What does last forever?
Psalm 39 :5-7How short you have made my life!
    In your sight my lifetime seems nothing.
Indeed every living being is no more than a puff of wind,
    no more than a shadow.
All we do is for nothing;
    we gather wealth, but don't know who will get it.
What, then, can I hope for, Lord?
    I put my hope in you.’

In the Christmas story, the angel says to Mary, ‘ “Don't be afraid, Mary; God has been gracious to you. 31 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king, as his ancestor David was, 33 and he will be the king of the descendants of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end!”
Luke 1:30-33
and finally,

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

After lighting three Advent Candles and spending a time of prayer for the Hopes we have for ourselves, for others and for our world, the preparation we need to make to welcome Christ into our lives and the joy that we share at Christmas, our young people's group 'Cooler' introduced us to the #nativity

Two thousand years ago, angels played a significant role in bringing the message of Jesus’ birth to the world.  Essentially angels are messengers (it’s what the Greek word means), one way in which God communicates with people.
So we have given a bit of thought to how the nativity story might have looked if God and his angels had 21st century means of communication ……..
Group of 2 or three girls crosses the stage, chatting/checking phones, then separate, leaving Mary on her own.
Reader 1: A teenage girl on her mobile phone, receives an unexpected tweet from a contact she doesn’t recognise
(>>angelG @mary hi don’t be afraid god has chosen you)
Reader 2: “Mary! Don’t be afraid. God has chosen you to be the mother of his son, Jesus.”
(>>mary @angelG omg!)
Reader 1: Mary couldn’t believe her eyes.  It took more than a few reassuring messages before she finally agreed to this challenge.
(>>mary @angelG ok)
Joseph – on his phone/laptop in his workshop .
Reader 3: A little later, Mary’s fiancé Joseph is interrupted in his work by a message that is not from a new customer or his accountant
(>>angelG @joecarpenter hi big news….)
Reader 4: “Joseph! Don’t be afraid! Mary is pregnant and you are not the father.  But you mustn’t reject her; she is carrying God’s son, Jesus.”
Reader 3: Although rather stunned by this, Joseph agrees to stick by Mary.
Mary and Joseph standing or sitting together with a laptop/phone, looking frustrated because they can’t find anywhere to stay.
Reader 1: Sometime later, they find they have to go in person to Bethlehem to comply with a government order.  Booking the bus was no problem; accommodation for a few days was more difficult.
Reader 2 Trivago – no, – no, – yes!  No tourist board ratings or positive comments from previous guests, but beggars can’t be choosers. With the baby due any day, Mary and Joseph set off.  
The baby has been born. Having wrapped him up, Mary is cradling him and Joseph is taking pictures on his phone to send to the family back in Nazareth
(>> Instagram picture of baby)
On the other side of the stage, a group of shepherds are hunched over their tablets. Occasional cries of ‘Goal!’ ‘Yess!’
Reader 3: The local shepherds out on the hills are whiling away the night hours playing football games.  All of a sudden … the screens freeze and dim and the game is stopped.  Messages fly in at a great rate.
(>>#b excited #bigevent J J J gtgith gtgith J J)
Reader 4: “Hey guys! Don’t be afraid! There’s something much bigger happening. There’s a baby born down in town - the promised Messiah. Go and check it out for yourselves.”
Reader 3: “Glory to God in the Highest” - with impressive sound effects.
Reader 4: The shepherds are not sure quite what to make of this, but something about the messages convinces them it’s worth leaving their sheep to go and find this baby.
Shepherds cross the stage to join Mary and Joseph, fall in front of the baby with some sort of amazement, then get out their phones and start texting/snapping etc. Move off to one side as reader 3 reads the last line below.
Reader 3: When they do so, their immediate response is indeed to worship him, but then they just have to share the news with their mates.
(>> snapchat/Instagram pictures of shepherds and baby with ‘chillin with Jesus’ caption)
Reader 4: In no time, they are spreading the good news to all their friends.  This continues as they return to their sheep and finish their shift, football games forgotten.
Unknown location, then Bethlehem again
A bunch of amateur astronomers looking through telescopes and checking results on their laptops, looking very clever but rather puzzled by what they are seeing. 
Reader 1: Meanwhile, a bunch of keen astronomers see unusual events in the night sky and check out what this might be on They ask other enthusiasts in on-line forums for ideas on what it might mean.  They come to the conclusion that someone special, a king, has been born and set out to see for themselves.
After a bit of discussion they pick up their gear and set off.  They appear to get lost a couple of times, eventually end up with Mary and Joseph. Like the shepherds before them, they are initially silent and adoring – before getting out their phones to take pictures and tell others.
Reader 2: With the help of GPS and Googlemaps, they set out across unfamiliar territory. After a couple of false turns, they too arrive in Bethlehem and find Mary and Joseph.  For a short time they forget their gadgets and technology to worship Jesus.  But then they just have to share with their fellow-skywatchers round the world just what the star turned out to mean and what they have found. 

>> starman1 @astroprof big star=#nativity not your average king

>>starman2 posted an update on facebook
The wise men leave some of their gear as presents for Jesus and then prepare to leave.  One looks rather shocked as he gets a call on his phone; they confer together, then set off in a different direction to the one they came in.
Reader 1: As they prepare to leave, one of them gets an urgent message telling them to avoid Jerusalem on the way back as it is too dangerous.  After a quick check for alternative routes and a bit of discussion, they set off home by a different road.

By whatever technology or none, the good news is to be shared. Mary, Joseph, shepherds and wise men acted on the messages they received. They in turn passed on to others what they had witnessed.  By whatever technology or none, we are to do the same.  Whoever you are, you have a role as an angel-messenger and there is a part for you in this story.

#nativity readers/actors stay on the stage and we (Mary?/Richard?) invite all the younger children (and anyone else bigger!) in the story as shepherds, wise men, angels etc. A group photo can be taken and posted (immediately?) onto the Highbury's Facebook page.

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