08 December 2006

The sweet sounds of Christmas bring excitement to churches

Following on from the success of last year's Narnia-themed Christmas service, MethodistChildren have come up with a selection of new services for use in churches across Britain designed to illustrate the gospel through sounds, stories and prayers.

Steve Pearce, Children's Secretary for the Methodist Church, said; 'the Christmas story is one that's familiar to most of us and sometimes it can be difficult to connect with it when we've heard it so many times. We hope that by using stories, sounds and props, these services will help everyone in the congregation to recapture the excitement of hearing about Jesus' birth for the first time.'

The 'sound story' uses sound clips such as 'clip-clopping donkey' or 'crying baby' to illustrate each section of the Christmas narrative. This aims to help people to feel a part of the story. They can imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph. The sounds could be used to enhance the feel of a traditional service, or leaders could get congregations to guess the story from the noises that are played.

Another service suggestion begins with an old, worn sack under the Christmas Tree. Inside can be found all kinds of objects such as scented oils, a nappy and hay, each representing a different aspect of the nativity story. As each is taken out of the sack, people can talk about what it symbolises and pass it round the church so that people can experience it through sight, smell, or touch.

The final seasonal offering from MethodistChildren is a 'Prayer Story', which explores the nativity story, inviting the congregation to imagine themselves into the characters' situations. They are asked 'how would you have felt?', 'what would you do in that situation?' and 'where's God in the whole picture?'

Doug Swanney, Children's Work Development Officer, said: 'Christmas is a festival that gives us so much to see, feel, smell, taste and touch, so why shouldn't churches go multi-sensory this Christmas? These ideas aren't supposed to be restrictive - we want people to take the ideas and resources and find a formula that works for their church. They can use their own props or even add their own sounds! The most important thing is to present the Christmas story in a way everyone can relate to.'

The service outlines are available online and the sounds can be downloaded in mp3 format for free from the MethodistChildren website - www.methodistchildren.org.uk. The website also has a Christmas resources page, with books and CD recommendations and links to online resources. Last year's Narnia-themed Christmas service is also still available online.

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