We were encouraged to have young hearts and join in with the creation of the Nativity during the morning meeting yesterday led by YPSM Tracy Wood. ‘Joy to the World’ was the first carol to be sung and following this the piano played whilst a number of largish boxes were circulated around the hall in ‘Pass the Parcel’ fashion.
The winner, when the music stopped, holding the No. 1 parcel was Josh Davis. He opened the box and found an angel’s halo and wings. He was the first of many who were found to be holding the ‘parcel’ in numerical order and who were suitably dressed to fit the part in the nativity story. Tracy encouraged anybody who wished to be part of the final tableau to come and be dressed for the part. Major Peter Clack was game enough to volunteer to be another angel. Shepherds Russell and Heather looked the part as did Maureen (Mary) and Katie (Joseph). Wise men Peter, Roland and Louise played their part and Katelyn was a real sport to wear the baby’s nappy as Baby Jesus. Here are some photos.
Maureen and Roland lit the Advent candles and Maureen prayed a prayer that this place should be a ‘still place of peace’ and that we should let our ‘light flow’.
Carols were sung in between both individual and group items. Carols included ‘Hark the Herald’, ‘While shepherds watched’, ‘We three kings’ and ‘Away in a manger’.
The Singing Company sang two songs: ‘Love has come’ and ‘Feliz Navidad’. The YP Band played ‘As with gladness’ and ‘Yuletide Rag’. Erin sang ‘Walking in the Air’ and Elliot played ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Gospel Flair’ on the piano. Sam, Isaac, Ethan played ‘Carol of the Bells’ on the bells and later volunteers were invited to have a go at playing ‘Joy to the World’ which they found to be trickier than it looked. We had Storytime when Ryan read the story ‘The night before Christmas’ to his son Joel.
Several YP workers read from scripture: Dean Isaiah 7 v 14 and Isaiah 9 v 6: Vanessa Luke 1, Steve Matt. 1: Rob Luke 2: Martin Matt 2: Sam Matt 2.
Tracy summed up the morning when she asked all the nativity figures to stand and form a tableau. A fantastic nativity comprising all who were found to be holding a parcel and those who volunteered to join in. She pointed out that ‘we are all part of the story, even if you tried to avoid the parcel’. Mary and Joseph worried about what people would think when the Angel Gabriel told them their news. Like them, we too worry about what people will think. The Angels shared the good news with the shepherds. We can share good news with friends and family. The Shepherds chose to leave their sheep and go to see the baby. Nobody forced them to go but they responded to the angels’ message. Maybe we should be more active in responding to what God is saying to us. The Kings brought gifts. Maybe we are not using our gifts as we should. The animals were there and even the smallest had a part to play.
Even if you don’t believe, be like the shepherds and come and see. If you do believe, then be Jesus every day. Be stars, drawing people to this place. We are all part of this story.
So what happened to the last parcel? Tracy and Major Ian passed it to and fro and when the music stopped, surprise, surprise, Major Ian was holding it. When he opened it – a Christmas jumper and reminder to relax and have fun. Wear Christmas jumpers to the evening meeting.
After the Benediction the band played us out with ‘Carol of the Bells’.
The 4 pm meeting was ‘Christmas Jumper and Carols’ when we had the chance to sing some carols which are more unusual. Major Ian led the meeting which started with ‘Angels from the realms of glory’ followed by ‘Open wide the stable door’. The band played Bill Himes’ arrangement of ‘Sweet chiming Christmas bells’. The Bible reading was from Matt 2: 1-11. ‘Saviour’s Day’ was sung next before the Songsters sang two contrasting songs ‘Child of Mary’ and ‘Rise up shepherd’. The next two carols were ‘Do you know the song’ and ‘There’s a star in the East’.
In his thought Major Ian said that it was interesting to see the different reactions people had to the band in the High Street and when he tried to make contact with them. Some, the majority, were pleased to see them, same gave a donation but others walked past with their heads down. When the wise men came to Herod, he was terrified because he thought he was going to be overthrown. The shepherds were terrified initially when the angels came to them. Herod’s reaction was to kill all babies under two. The shepherds didn’t stay afraid. They went to have a look at the Christ-child and were very happy. Two thousand years later and there is still that fear. It’s a great opportunity at Christmas to talk about what it means for us to be redeemed by the Saviour: but there still is fear. The shepherds saw and told of what they had seen. People from the Life project came and heard the Christmas story last week. They are sometimes afraid. Let us see and tell what God reveals to us during this Christmas time.
The final two songs were ‘It was on a starry night’ and ‘Sweet chiming Christmas bells’. After the benediction the band played us out with the march ‘Christmas Praise’.
What a blessed, joyous time we’ve had today. Here are a couple more photographs which I hope will give a flavour of what has happened.