Friday, December 28, 2007

christmas worship treats 2007

A range of things that seemed to click in worship this Christmas.

1 – Advent beads: each a different colour, each with the Advent word (hope, peace, joy, love) glued onto their base. Given out, one for each week of Advent, an object of beauty, a tactile reminder of the journey toward Christmas.

2 – Something Beautiful: a song from Sinead O’Connor Theology album, played at 11 pm communion. It has lyrics including;
U who give life through blood
Oh I wanna make something
So lovely for U, ‘Cos I promised that’s what I’d do for U
With the bible I stole
I know U forgave my soul
Because such was my need on a chronic Christmas eve
. Sinead has such a beautiful and haunting voice, and the place was candlelit at 11:30 pm on Christmas Eve and we’re entering into communion as life through blood. You get the idea.

3 – Wheat prayers and communion: In Croatia they have a custom of planting wheat in small pots in early December. By Christmas Eve, the wheat has sprouted and the plants are tied with ribbon, and placed as a Christmas decoration. So just before communion, we had introduced the custom as a reminder, of life and growth, no matter how cold and dark and gloomy the winter.

We then prayed pastorally for young and old and placed the plants on the communion table. The wheat, bound with a red sash, sat amid bread and wine, a sign of the cycles of life and hope and potential. Which might help answer this question: as to why communion at the birth of Jesus. Because we are remembering the “One who gave life through blood.”

4 – Making animal noises: Yep. Animal noises.

We played “Day 2″ from here.

Yep. Animal noises. Then we divided the church up into cows, sheep and roosters; then rewrote the first line of the second verse of Away in a manger;
The cattle are lowing
The sheep are bleating
The roosters are crowing

and invited people to express their inner animal!

Yep. Animal noises. It ensured a range of random animal noises through out the services. All good fun. All a reminder of the humanity and reality of the birth.

5 – Blue Christmas tree with blue boxes: About 15 people turned out for our Blue Christmas service. I had created a central focus by spraypainting a Christmas tree blue which we hung from the ceiling (it was more blue in reality than in this photo).

bluechristmas3300.jpg Below the Christmas tree was a manger, empty, and draped in blue cloth. Inside were blue boxes.

bluechristmas1300.jpg We prayed the Magnificant, God’s promise to all those who are blue. I had set up a range of stations offering various resources – music, images, Biblical meditations, candles, blue beads – that might prove helpful. People were invited to pick up an empty blue box, walk the stations and place whatever resources they might want in the box, which was theirs to take home.

Posted by steve at 09:17 AM

4 Comments

  1. Wow – sounds like you have put a lot of effort into Christmas worship, your parishioners/locals are very fortunate to have such thought put in. Nice idea too to have a box to take away, acknowledging that people need ongoing tools to fight the blues. I thought there would have been more than 15 at the blue christmas service, I would have come if I lived in ChCh. Do you advertise much? The Croatian custom looked interesting too, reading the link you could see how the soul sustains that life and growth. Did you use light in conjunction as they sometimes do?
    Jack

    Comment by Jack — December 29, 2007 @ 7:16 pm

  2. It’s about the blue Christmas tree:

    The mother of God wears blue in Eastern icons with a red cloak over top. Blue symbolizes human nature. Red symbolizes the divine. I think the blues are what you get when you enter fully into human life. In icons, Christ wears a red tunic with a blue robe over top. He assumed human nature. He took on the blues. That is why he is the man of constant sorrows.

    Comment by Matthew — December 29, 2007 @ 7:21 pm

  3. Thanks Matthew – that’s interesting to know. Is Christ ‘the man of constant sorrows’ though? I don’t consider our human condition to be all ‘blue’. Gets me to thinking about my ten year old daughter, we were having a conversation about death and to lessen her fears I said that that heaven was a beautiful place where there were no tears and sadness. She replied, “I don’t want to lose my tears when I die, I want all my feelings.”

    Comment by Jack — December 30, 2007 @ 10:38 am

  4. thanks matthew. i have an icon of Mary on my desk, which i painted myself, a weekend retreat i took with an icon painter. the mix of theology, creativity and devotional spirituality made it a very rich weekend for me. i then took the icon to be “blessed” by my faith community at the time (Graceway Baptist).

    i did not make the link to Mary in the icon, i was more rifting off the colour blue as a symbol for mood, juxtaposed with the christmas tree which we expect to be well-lit and sparkly, yet it is not when we have the christmas blues.

    but i like your connection, although like Jack, would have reservations about reducing human experience to all blue. i also thought that for the orthodox icon painter blue was the colour of divinity, not humanity?

    steve

    Comment by steve — December 30, 2007 @ 11:32 am

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