Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Christmas Journey floats in Santa Parade
The Christmas journey is up in Latimer Square, Christchurch, again this year. About 1,000 bales of hay are used to create a labyrinth, in which various stations reflecting on peace are staged. Latimer Square is a major thoroughfare in the central city, and a redlight area at night, so it’s a neat place to offer Christian spiritual practice.
To help with promotion, the Journey placed a float in the citywide Santa Parade. The sides are painted by a local community youth trust. The four towers, with Advent words are set in the four corners. The centre peace is a laminated list of names from the phone book, with Pentecost symbols, to denote the Spirit at the Anunciation.
From the rear, a grassed area is visible, on which are stuck some “stick people” (driftwood, with eyes). These are given at the start of the labyrinth and people are invited to place them at the central stable area. Over 2,500 of these stick people were given out at the Santa parade, with the hope they will bring them to the labyrinth when it opens just before Christmas.
The Christmas journey represents one of the key evolutions in “emerging church” in the last 5 years – that of large scale outdoor creative engagement. The creativity and contextuality often used to re-frame worship has now been focused on the public square, to offer spiritual practice outside the church. These types of initiative are important in keeping alive the Christmas story, in a society where the Christian story is less known. The downside is that they are extremely labour intensive and can rely on the creativity of a few. They also make problematic the relationship between individualised experience and Christian community.