Thursday, December 20, 2012

Oh Joy! The school carol service!

(not the doll I used - this one is far more professional looking!)

I love the end of year school carol service. Why wouldn't I? It's the one service of the year where I have to do almost nothing ... the teachers plan out the service (with minimal guidance from me); the children do the prayers & the singing; all I have to do is think up a little something to say in the middle of it all! Not even a sermon, more of an idea ...*

So, I produced a doll from the sleeve of my surplice. Not a very pretty doll ... not much call for dolls in a house with four boys! This one was hand-made, a present from a little girl to my youngest when we left Cork. Being a boy, he hadn't much interest ... so he thought it was the perfect gift to hand on to Dad! 

The doll was in the role of Baby Jesus. Our reading had been about the birth of Jesus. I asked the children who else needed to be in the scene with Jesus? As each 'participant' was named, I invited an individual or a group of children up to play them. Soon the chancel had a Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds, wise men, sheep, donkeys, cattle, a few more sheep, a few more cattle, horses, and camels. Every single child in the school was up there! The church was filled with the sound of all the animals as each young person enthusiastically entered into the spirit of their role!

Then I shushed them.

'Hard to see the Baby Jesus in all that lot,' I said. 'Maybe we need to send some back.' Groaning, group by group they returned to their pews. The angels almost staged a revolt (Saint Michael, preserve & protect us!), claiming that they of all others had a right to be there, but I was having none of it! Quickly, all that was left was our 'Mary' & the Baby Jesus. I took him back & let her sit down too.

'It's easy to lose sight of this with so much else going on,' I said, cradling the ugly little doll. 'With all the other things that are going on at Christmas. And the other things are nice - the mince pies & the Christmas tree & the presents. But we mustn't let them get in the way of what's important. And the important thing about Christmas is that the Baby Jesus came. I want you to think about that for the rest of time between now and Christmas. And I want you to think about it Christmas Day when you come to Church. All the rest of the things we do at Christmas are nice ... but if we forget about Jesus at this time, we forget why we are celebrating at all.'

It was just an idea. Just a thought. But wouldn't Christmas be so much better if we all kept it in mind?

Merry Christmas!

*Thanks Adrian, if you're reading this ... I realised after that this was very similar to something I'd seen you do ... but far less organised!

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