The sweet sounds of Christmas bring excitement to churches

Following on from the success of last year's Narnia-themedChristmas service, MethodistChildren have come up with a selectionof new services for use in churches across Britain designed toillustrate 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 andsometimes it can be difficult to connect with it when we've heardit so many times. We hope that by using stories, sounds and props,these services will help everyone in the congregation to recapturethe excitement of hearing about Jesus' birth for the firsttime.'

The 'sound story' uses sound clips such as 'clip-clopping donkey'or 'crying baby' to illustrate each section of the Christmasnarrative. 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 traditionalservice, or leaders could get congregations to guess the story fromthe noises that are played.

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

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

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

The service outlines are available online and the sounds can bedownloaded in mp3 format for free from the MethodistChildrenwebsite - www.methodistchildren.org.uk.The website also has a Christmas resources page, with books and CDrecommendations and links to online resources. Last year'sNarnia-themed Christmas service is also still availableonline.