come and see

John 1:46 “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked.“Come and see,” answered Philip.


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The Road Cones of Faith

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The reading from Ephesians 6:10-18 is the one about the Armour of God. We have spoken on this reading before, but this time we were particularly inspired by a picture from Desert Island Church. Do check out their website – I particularly like some of the cartoons, but that may be my English sense of humour!

Anyway, with that bit of inspiration, some borrowed builders clothing, and some small helpers, we came up with our own version of “The Road Cones of Faith”
 
 

The Message
armor(We started with the reading from Ephesians)
Well, I don’t know about you, but after listening to that reading I have a feeling that we are all dressed incorrectly. I mean, shouldn’t we all be looking a bit like this!

But is this really about what we should wear? Well, of course not. It is about equipping ourselves for battle – not a battle with each other or other nations or countries, but a battle of the Spirit; the battle between good and evil, right and wrong – the battle between God and Satan that has been happening right from the beginning of time.

We are in a battle for our souls. Jesus came so that we have life through him. Satan lost big time when Jesus died on the cross for us, but Satan keeps on fighting and is still causing problems for God’s people. Satan is sneaky. He wants nothing more than to take us away from God, and he will use every trick that he can to do so. Like a great warrior we need to put on our armour, and because our enemy is a spirit, God has given us spiritual armour.

Now, the writer of the letter to the Ephesians, this morning’s reading, was Paul, and he was likening the equipment needed for this Spiritual battle to things that would have been familiar to the people he was writing to – that is, the armour worn by the Roman soldiers of the time.

"Road Cones of Faith" from Desert Island Church (http://www.desertislandchurch.co.uk/visual_aids_01a_road_cones_of_faith.htm)

“Road Cones of Faith” from Desert Island Church (http://www.desertislandchurch.co.uk/visual_aids_01a_road_cones_of_faith.htm)

Well I personally haven’t seen any Roman soldiers around here lately, so how about we illustrate this reading with some things that are probably a lot more familiar to we Cantabrians nowadays? That’s right Builder’s safety gear. And to make it a bit more interesting, I need a volunteer to model how it is used.

So let’s put on the builder’s Personal Protective Equipment of God!

The tool belt of truth (v14)
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist”
The tool belt is used to keep everything together that is needed on the job. When confronted with something that needs fixing our builder doesn’t have to go off to find the equipment he needs, it is right there at hand. When we keep God’s truth with us – in our hearts and minds, and living it in our daily lives – we won’t get confused about what is real and what are lies from the enemy. And the way that we know what the truth is, is by listening to, and reading and learning, God’s word.

The reflective jacket of righteousness (v14)
“with the breastplate of righteousness in place”

Righteousness means being right with God.
The reflective jacket is used so that our builder can easily be seen. If he wanted to hide he would need to take it off – I don’t know, maybe he didn’t really want to climb that scaffolding, so he was hoping his foreman wouldn’t see him.
We know that God sees us always. This is a reminder to us to guard our hearts and attitudes so that we are always right with God and not ashamed to be seen by Him.

Gospel steel toe-capped boots (v15)
“with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”

It’s much easier to walk with a good pair of shoes or boots on. Be ready to go wherever, and to whoever, God sends you, to tell the good news of God’s amazing love for us.

The road cones of faith (v16)
“take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”

Well, road cones might not be much good against flaming arrows, but there aren’t that many of those around Christchurch either. There are a lot of cars though, and the road cones will ward them off from around the areas our builder is working so he’s not going to get knocked over. Road cones don’t have a lot of material compared to cars, but the builder trusts that they will do their job and keep him safe. In the same way, faith in God is trusting in Him even when you do not understand why some bad things happen. Faith means believing in God and His plan for us, even when we cannot see where the road we are on is taking us. Satan will try to plant seeds of doubt and fear in our hearts and minds, but those seeds of doubt can never take root if we have faith in Jesus. When we choose to believe God, and not Satan’s lies, the road cones of faith block the doubts that Satan drives at us.

The hard hat of salvation (v17)
“Take the helmet of salvation”

The purpose of the hard hat is, of course to protect the head from injury. Satan tries to injure our minds, discouraging us by pointing to our failures, our sins, our unresolved problems – whatever seems negative in our lives – in order to make us lose confidence in the love and care of God.
But we have the knowledge that, by God’s Grace and the sacrifice of Jesus, we are saved. We are God’s children. Satan has already lost, and nothing can ever take you away from God. And that knowledge protects us from the blows that Satan directs against our security and assurance in Christ.

The saw of the Spirit(v17)
“and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

A sword can attack or defend. A saw can be used to cut things down, but also to ready material for building. God’s Holy Word is a powerful tool against Satan. It can cut Satan’s lies to pieces. And God’s Word builds us up, and readies us for building His kingdom in this world.
The words of the Bible are our saws.

Let me finish with the last few verses of the reading, taken this time from The Message translation:

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”

(Gail)


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Christmas Awards Ceremony

Yes, I know it’s only September, but Christmas will be here before you know it, and we have certainly already started to think about our Children’s Christmas Service. So we thought it was about time we shared with you what we did last year. This is an original work by Vanessa; feel free to use it or adapt it as you wish, but an acknowledgment of the source would be appreciated.
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The theme was a “Red Carpet Awards Ceremony”, with Vanessa as the reporter greeting the celebrities as they arrived. This enabled her to hold a clipboard which had both her words and the words of each of the participants on it. Made it so much easier all around, with no stressing about forgotten lines. There were no costumes – everyone was invited to dress as if they were going to a real awards ceremony, but we did have some Angels there as well.

I have included a note of the songs that we used between each “celebrity”, but you may well have your own favourites that you want to use.

So, without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to:

THE GOVERNORS BAY CHRISTMAS AWARDS CEREMONY!

Song: They Came to a Christmas Party (Starshine Singers, from Jesus’ Christmas Party)

Interviewer: Good morning everyone and welcome to WWJD TV, where we are live at the Governors Bay Christmas Awards Ceremony. We hope to be able to bring you interviews with many of the Nominees as they arrive on the red carpet today. And look, here is our first celebrity arriving now!

MARY
Interviewer: Hi Mary. It must be exciting to be at the 2013 Governors Bay Christmas awards. I know you have an important part to play in Christmas. You are the mother of Jesus. Wow you must have a really amazing story to tell so please share it with us here today and for all the viewers at home…

"Mary" on the red Carpet

“Mary” on the red Carpet

Mary: Look I am just a girl who believes in God. A while back I got the fright of my life, first when an angel appeared and then when I was told I was pregnant, and I wasn’t planning that, not yet  – I hadn’t even got the wedding invitations out.

Interviewer: Crickey, an angel what was that like?

Mary: His name was Gabriel and he was big, bright and beautiful. He told me not to be afraid because I was going have God’s son.  I was pleased I was already sitting down when he said that. Can you imagine being chosen to have God’s son. But wait there’s more …. my cousin Elizabeth who hadn’t been able to get pregnant was going to have a baby too, at the same time, so I went to see her to give glory to God for our babies and, of course, swap swollen ankle stories.

Interviewer: It must have been nice to have some relaxation before the birth.

Mary: Relaxation, if only! Just after I got back from Elizabeth’s, Joseph tells me we have to go to Bethlehem and the only transport left is a donkey. I suppose it is better than having to walk the whole way.

Interviewer: Thanks for your time Mary. You really were blessed by God weren’t you.

Song: Mary’s Boy Child

 JOSEPH
Interviewer: Hi Joseph. I gotta say it must have been bad news to hear that Mary was pregnant. First because you weren’t married, and even worse than that, it wasn’t your baby. So come on tell us your Christmas story.

"Joseph" tells his story

“Joseph” tells his story

Joseph: Mary and I were sorting out the wedding – well, Mary was. She loves organising all that.  And, yeah, I was not happy when Mary told me she was pregnant because I knew it wasn’t my baby.  Nazareth is a small town and everybody knows everybody, and of course that also means everybody knows everybody’s business. I really wanted to do the right thing and stay with her, but I was thinking about breaking up.

Interviewer: I didn’t know you were going to break up. So why did you stay?

Joseph: I had a visit from an angel who told me that God was the father of Mary’s baby, and I was to name the baby Jesus. Well that settled it for me, I wasn’t going to argue with an angel  – would you? So  straight away I married Mary, but just before the baby was born we had to go Bethlehem.

Interviewer: Bethlehem that’s about 130km from Nazareth – like going from Governors Bay to Hanmer Springs. It must have been something important to go to, especially with Mary just about to give birth.

Joseph: Yeah, it was very important. The Roman Emperor ordered a census, which meant you had to go back to where your family came from. I come from the tribe of David and our home town is Bethlehem. Pregnant or not we had to go, so we packed up and went on a road trip. There are quite a lot of us now from the tribe of David, so Bethlehem was busy, but we finally got somewhere to stay. That was lucky because pretty soon after that Mary gave birth to our son. We were in with the animals mind you. Did you know I am a carpenter? I just wish I could have carried all my tools to make a cot. We had to lie our baby in a manger. A manger! .. you know, that thing they put hay in to feed the animals. Wasn’t made that well either!

Interviewer: Thanks Joseph. We can see what a special guy you are because God chose you to raise his son. And I’d like to add what a great man that son turned out to be.

Song: Away in a manger

 INNKEEPER
Interviewer: And look here comes the innkeeper whose place was where Jesus was born. Hang on, I will try get a word with him as he goes past. Hi, I’m from WWJD TV. Can you please give us a moment to hear your story?

Our Innkeeper looks back on a profitable time

Our Innkeeper looks back on a profitable time

Innkeeper: Yeah, sure. I’m Donald from The Do Duck Inn. Mention you saw me on TV tonight and you can have a 5% discount on the room rate!
Well that first Christmas it was real busy. Bethlehem was the home town for the tribe of David, so it was like a huge family reunion. I filled up every room we had – and at a full rate price too. But all these people kept knocking on the door even though I had a sign out saying there was no room in the inn.  Then a couple came to the door, and I was about to turn them away like all the others, but I saw the woman- she was pretty close to having a baby and if that happened I could charge for another person!
So I let them sleep with the animals. No way was I giving them my bed. My bed is made from beautiful exotic wood, carved by the best artists and my sheets are made from the finest Egyptian cotton. They’re weren’t royalty you know, just from that small town of Nazareth. Nothing good will ever come from Nazareth.
I remember their names too, Mary and Joseph. Mary – how common! Everyone these days is called Mary. And they had visitors all night too. How did all these people hear about the birth of the baby? Someone must have posted it on Facebook.

Interviewer: Great, thanks for that, all the best at the awards.

Song: Knock on Another Door (Starshine Singers, from A Wriggly Nativity)

 ANGELS
Interviewer: Well this lot need no introduction…..here come the angels. I love you all! I have an angel at the top of our Christmas tree at home. So how was that first Christmas for you?

The Awesome Angels!

The Awesome Angels!

Angel: What a busy time we angels had with the birth of Jesus. It was brilliant! We hadn’t been that busy… ever. I always love seeing how those people react – sometimes frightened  like this (pulls face), sometimes surprised like this (pulls face) and sometimes both like this!!! Remember Mary – she did both faces. Her and Joseph were really surprised finding out there was an unexpected baby on the way, and it was God’s son too. Gabriel was the angel who visited Mary. Pretty scary seeing Gabriel, mind you; he is really big and really shiny. I would just like to say if you ever see an angel we aren’t scary at all.

Interviewer: So some of you angels visited Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus. Did you scare… I mean visit… anyone else?

Angel: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Gabriel went to tell some shepherds about Jesus being born, and they were NOT happy to see him. But when a whole heap of us angels joined Gabriel and we sang the shepherds beautiful songs of praise to God, they weren’t scared anymore and took off into Bethlehem to find Jesus.Thank goodness we got the next few days off!

Interviewer: It must have such a busy and exciting time as you raced around telling everyone about God’s son, Jesus, coming here to earth. Just like you are doing again today – telling all these people about that the very first Christmas,  the day when Jesus was born.

Song: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

 SHEPHERDS

The Shepherds: some of those sheep seem rather lively!

The Shepherds: some of those sheep seem rather lively!

Interviewer: So, hello shepherds! I am pleased to see you could get some time off work and come to the Governors Bay Christmas Awards. As you can see it is a big event here, look at all the people who have come to see the Christmas celebrities. I bet you became celebrities in Bethlehem after that first Christmas.

Chief Shepherd: Celebrities? You betcha! Everyone wanted our autographs after that night. It started out normal enough. We had eaten our tea and were settled in watching the sheep. Then this humungous angel appears! I thought I was seeing things but everyone else was freaking out too.

Interviewer: Can you remember what the angel said to you?

Shepherd: Remember? I can’t forget that night, ever. Well first he said not to be afraid – Yeah right! He said the Saviour, the Messiah, was in Bethlehem. That’s our town. And he said we will find a baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger. Now that’s the oddest thing, because we have been waiting for the one to save us for  generations and he said we would find a baby lying amongst the animals. The animals!

Interviewer: This Christmas story sure has some exciting parts in it.

Shepherd: Hang on, it gets better. So we have one angel, right. Next thing there are so many angels in the night sky that it is as bright as day. And the coolest part is they all begin singing praises to God. It was better than a Justin Bieber, One Direction and a Selina Gomez concert all rolled into one. After that the angels disappeared, and so did we.

Interviewer: What you went to heaven too?

Shepherd: No! We raced into Bethlehem to find the baby and tell everyone about it. We haven’t stopped talking about yet either.

Interviewer: Thank you for your time. What a life changing experience for some shepherds to have.

Shepherd: Here is our agents card, we now do radio and TV interviews, giving our firsthand account of Christmas.

Song: While Shepherds watched their flocks

 THREE WISE PEOPLE
Interviewer: Oh look we have got some interesting looking characters arriving now. Let’s see why they are here at the Christmas Awards.

(Enter three Wise Persons, being led by person carrying star on a stick)

Wise Person 1: Greetings and salutations. We are accredited representatives from the Oriental Association for nocturnal observers of celestial bodies.

Wise Person 3: HUH?

Wise Person 2: We’re stargazers from the East!

Wise Person 1: Affirmative.  In accordance with our customary nocturnal activities…

Wise Person 3: HUH?

Wise Person 2: Let me do this – we are wise, not geniuses! No one will ever understand what happened if you keep talking like that.

Interviewer: Whew, Thank you

The Wise Persons (and star)

The Wise Persons (and star)

Wise Person 2: We noticed a bright star appear in the sky in such a place and formation that we realised a new King of the Jews had been born. We would have arrived sooner in Bethlehem had the maps in the GPS been updated. It wasn’t my fault, someone (secret pointing to WP3) else was in charge of navigation. Really I don’t know why she is even in the wisest of the wise club, because she’s not that clever.Interviewer: So how did you find this new baby king?

Wise Person 2: The first obvious place was to ask the current King, King Herod, but he didn’t know anything about it. Luckily the other GPS worked.

Interviewer: The other GPS, what’s that?

Wise Person 2: Glowing Prominent Star, of course.

Interviewer: Yes of course!

Wise Person 2: So we followed the star all they way to Jesus. We had brought the baby special gifts with us from the east.

Interviewer: What did you get him?

Wise Person 2: I gave gold, she gave frankincense, a very special perfume. And she gave myrrh – an oil for rubbing on dead bodies! It was a baby we were going to visit! I told you, not so bright.

Interviewer: It must have been easier going back home, the same way?

Wise Person 2: Oh no, we didn’t do that. God had warned us in a dream that King Herod was not going to worship Jesus. The King was not happy knowing there was now someone new who would take his throne, and we did not to be any part of that thank you very much!

Interviewer: No, thank you very much for your time today.

Song: We three Kings

CONCLUSION
Interviewer: I am so excited! I can’t wait to meet Jesus. I wonder when he will get here today? That might be him coming down the red carpet now…
(another person comes up and whispers to the interviewer)
What? He’s not coming? But Christmas isn’t Christmas without Jesus! It even has his name in it  – Christ-mas. What am I going to tell everyone? How will they get to meet him?
(more whispering)
God’s gift to us was Jesus, who was born on Christmas Day. Not a gift just for that  day but for everyday. If you want to hear his side of the story…ask him yourself, he would love to hear from you.

Song: Joy to the World

All of the Celebrity Guests, with Interviewer

All of the Celebrity Guests, with Interviewer


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Blurred Vision- John 9: 1-12

This week our service was about Jesus healing the man who had been blind from birth – the one in John 9 where Jesus puts mud on the man’s eyes and tells him to go and wash. We thought about how hard it can be to tell what things are when we can’t use out eyes – for example, how do you describe the colour yellow?

So our GAME was “guess the object”. We made two sets of six canvas bags and had different things in each one. Our two teams then had to work out what was in there just by touch – no cheating and pulling anything out to see what it was. We used:

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  • Sandpaper
  • Wet Wipes
  • Cotton wool balls
  • Feathers
  • Lego
  • Rice

But, of course, there are a huge variety of other tactile things you could use.

 

THE CRAFT:
For this we had cardboard glasses to be decorated. The “glasses” were already cut out, but if you have older children, or more time, you may want them to cut them out themselves. It can be a wee bit fiddly though. I have an oval hole punch which I used for the eye holes. You can download our template for these here:Glasses template

To make the glasses fit, wrap the arms around the child’s head, mark where they overlap, then cut a small, wedge-shaped slit on each arm – at the top on one arm, and the bottom on the other. When you put the glasses back on, lap the slits into each other, and the glasses will stay put.

We had glitter glue, feathers, paper stickers, foam stickers, and sticky paper to use to personalise our glasses – and don’t we all look gorgeous!
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THE MESSAGE:
(Verse 1-2) As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been born blind. His disciples asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parent’s sin?”

Back in the time of Jesus, it was believed if someone did something wrong (especially really wrong) it would affect themselves, their children, their children’s children  – and so on. That also meant you could be affected by something wrong that your parents did, your grandparents did and so on as well. It went both ways in the family line.

I wonder if this blind man’s family looked at each other wondering what they’d done to cause his blindness. I wonder if they looked at themselves and felt it something they had done, and lived with the shame and guilt.

What a thought. I couldn’t bear the idea that something I could do would adversely affect Luke, or his children. What a lot of responsibility to bear  – what a cloud to live under if you believed that.

As I stand in front of you I have not lived a saintly life, and there was a time that I didn’t do what God would want me to. There are things I have done that were really wrong, sins I have committed that now lay at the foot of the cross, and not over my life – or my family’s.

Verse 3: Jesus answered, “His blindness has nothing to do with this man’s sins or his parent’s sins. He is blind so that God’s power might be seen at work in him.”
God is a miracle worker. He has the power to make a blind man see – he changed this man’s life. This blind man would be able to work now, he could find himself a wife and have a family, he would no longer be reliant on begging for his daily food. His life was radically turned around. God is a miracle worker – his power can be seen in your life. He can radically turn your life around.

Sometimes we do not see what Jesus is trying to show us. Let us take a moment and ask for Jesus to reveal something to us. Open our eyes, open our minds, open our hearts, open our Spirit to receive what God would like us to see.

Vanessa

 

 


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A Wet Walk – Matthew 14:22-33

This week we were looking at the story of Jesus walking on water – and of Peter trying to do so too.

THE GAME:
We thought a game about crossing water was a good idea, so we designated the carpet area as “water” and distributed three “stepping stones” (made out of cardboard) to each team so that they could get across. So, three “stepping stones” – but there were four people in each team!

IMG_0836This is how the game is played:

  • First person puts down a “stepping stone” and stands on it, then puts down a second one in front of that and moves forward.
  • Second person moves onto the “stones”, passing forward the last “stone” so that it can go down at the front.
  • Now first two people stand on the front “stone”, next two people stand on the middle “stone”, and the last “stone” gets passed forward to become the front one.
  • Repeat the above step until everyone has reached the other side of the “water”!

Much of the fun of this comes in making the “stepping stones” only just big enough for two people. You can adjust the number of “stepping stones” you have, depending on how many people you have in each team, but never have enough so that you can have only one person on each “stone”. So, for three or four people, have three “stones”, for 5 people have four stones, and so on. To make it more challenging – perhaps where all the players are a bit older (we had a big mix of ages) – get the last person to carry the “stepping stone” forward, squeezing past their team mates on the front “stones”.

IMG_0840THE CRAFT:
Later on in the service we made boats out of walnut shells, with toothpick masts and paper sails. On the sails we had our memory verse:

“We must keep our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2)

The masts were held in place with Blu-Tak, and several of the children drew eyes or stick figures on the sails.

 

THE MESSAGE:
Peter walks on water

Earlier that day Jesus had preached and performed the miracle of feeding 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish. I would call that “a big day in the office.” Afterwards Jesus needed some time alone with God to pray. Take note, if you have had “a big day in the office”, before your next appointment recharge your batteries and have time in prayer –  Jesus did it, and so must we.

Now back to the story, Jesus sent the disciples out on the lake to go on before him. A big storm came up, a frighteningly scary storm, and then, while all this is raging around them, they see someone walking towards the boat, and they think it’s a ghost. Now I would be like “Seriously could this night get any worse.”

Then Jesus spoke: “It’s me,” and out of all the disciples, Peter was the one who called back. “If it is you, command me to come.” Peter didn’t want to asked and be given the option to say no, he wanted to be told, and so Jesus said “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and walked on water to Jesus. He had his eyes fixed on Jesus and he was walking on water with the storm raging around him. When Peter obeyed Jesus and moved out in faith, he walked on water.

The others stayed in the safety of the boat, they had faith in the boat.
What’s your boat? When life gets stormy, where or what do you put your faith in?

Peter had to leave the safety of the boat, step out of his comfort zone, and do the impossible. Peter had his eyes fixed firmly on Jesus to the exclusion of everything that was happening around him – the wind and the waves – and he walked on water towards Jesus, to the one who had called him to come.

Jesus knew about the storm coming and yet he told the disciples to go out on the lake. In the midst of the storm, Jesus walked out to them. And Peter went to meet him – with his eyes on Jesus. But then he noticed the waves, he felt the wind and thought “what am I doing,” and when his focus shifted, he started to sink and cried out in fear. Instantly, just like that, Jesus reached out and held Peter and said “You of little faith – why did you doubt?”  And for this failure, many who have read this have given Peter a hard time.

But there is such a positive truth about this story; when we fail, when we are in the middle of a storm and call out to Jesus, instantly and immediately he is there holding our hand. We are never alone – even if it looks and feels like it.

Peter experienced a miracle – he was the only one to have walked on water. He experienced the joy of being saved by Jesus in his moment of fear. Peter shared a moment and a connection the others didn’t – they never left the boat.

Had there been no storm, none of this would have happened. Peter’s faith wouldn’t have been tested. Growth and fear go together. It is always scary to do something new. Growth requires us to take on new challenges, and it is our faith that conquers the fear and doubts. If Jesus has called you, don’t worry about sinking. Remember, keep your eyes on Jesus and call out for his hand when you need him. He will be there instantly.

 Vanessa

THE PRAYERS:

Lord, we come before You this morning, reaching for Your outstretched hand, crying “Lord, save me!”
You hear.

When we keep our eyes on you,
we know that we are safe from the storm.

We pray that the eyes of all in authority and power may become focused on You, lord, that they may work with honesty and integrity for the good of those that they lead. Lead them to know that –
when we keep our eyes on you,
we know that we are safe from the storm.

We pray for Your church in this world, and particularly in this place. Let us be lights for others, that they may be led into the light of Your grace, and come to focus their eyes on You. For,
when we keep our eyes on you,
we know that we are safe from the storm.

We pray for all who suffer, in body, mind or spirit, that they may know Your healing touch in their lives. We bring to you especially ……(name those whose suffering we wish to bring to God)
when we keep our eyes on you,
we know that we are safe from the storm.

We commend to you those who have died, and we pray for those who mourn, who seek answers to the losses they have suffered. In all that we think we have lost,
when we keep our eyes on you,
we know that we are safe from the storm.

Lord, we come before You this morning, reaching for Your outstretched hand, crying “Lord, save me!”

You hear.

Amen

Gail


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Joshua and the Battle of Jericho

Luke enthusiastically blowing to make the walls fall down!

Luke enthusiastically blowing to make the walls fall down!

Joshua 6: 1-27

For our telling of the story of the Battle of Jericho last week, we looked at it from the point of view of some of those involved.

We built “City Walls” from building blocks on a piece of board, and walked around this after hearing from each person. For the final “day”, after we had gone around  seven times, we banged on the board that the “City Walls” were on so that they fell down. We also made “trumpets” to be blown whilst walking around the walls, and you can find those instructions at the end of this post.

We started and ended with Joshua speaking; the other parts can be in any order.

Day 1: Joshua
Now, I know I’m new to this leading armies lark, but these are the strangest instructions I’ve ever come across for defeating a city! But still, you know what they say, “the Lord works in mysterious ways”.

So, all the fighting men, fully armed. Check.
The Ark of the Covenant carried in front of the soldiers. Check.
Seven Priest blowing trumpets in front of them. Check.  

Now remember, you men, do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout! Once round the city, then back to camp for the night.  

Day 2: Soldier
Well, I must admit this wasn’t quite what I had in mind when I signed up to be a soldier. I was expecting lots of fighting – you know, swishing swords, clashing shields, that sort of thing, but there’s not been any sign of that recently.

Of course I knew there was going to be lots of marching – how else are we to get from one place to the next? But that’s just it – marching is for going from here to there – from point A to point B, if you like – not for going round and round in circles. Sorry, make that circle, singular.
But no, it’s “Hey ho lads – up before dawn, one quick march around the city, then that’s it for the day.”

Day 3: Jericho Citizen
So, that’s the famous Israelite army is it? A sight to strike fear into all our hearts? I don’t think so! You know, it’s only a couple of weeks ago that we heard that the whole Israelite nation had managed to cross over the River

Jordan without getting their feet wet. Rumour has it that their God dried up the river totally – and this is when it was in flood. Definitely gave us pause for thought – I mean, if they really had a God that powerful on their side, you could hardly blame a person for a bit of the old “hearts melting in fear” reaction.

But, if they really had a God that powerful on their side, why aren’t they attacking us instead of indulging in a daily stroll? No, definitely don’t think too much of their tactics. What do they think they’re going to do – walk the city into surrender?

Day 4: Child
Mum, Mum, look. It’s the soldiers again.
Why do they come so early? They woke me up!
Why are they just walking round and round the city?  

Day 5: Priest
Excuse me if I have a bit of trouble making myself understood – mouth’s a bit sore from all the trumpet blowing, don’t you know. What was that? Am I in a marching band? Ha, ha, very funny.

You must admit we make quite a sight, all dressed up in our priestly robes, leading the procession around Jericho. And not just anyone can play those Ram’s horn trumpets you know – there is quite a technique involved in getting the sound just right.

Actually, I was quite honoured when I learnt that I’d been chosen as one of the seven trumpeters. What no-one told me was we’d be playing the same tune all the way around, every single day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the traditional music as much as anyone else –but surely a bit of variety wouldn’t do any harm!  

Day 6: Rahab
There they go again. Another day, another march past. I just hope those Israelite spies that I helped managed to get back to their camp – and most of all I hope they keep their promise to make sure me and my family are safe from harm.

I know it might seem strange that I am siding with the very people who want to destroy the city I have lived in all my life, but I’ve heard all about that God of theirs, how powerful he is, and how much he has done for his people, and I so long to be able to receive the same blessings for myself.

I’ve got Mum & Dad here, my brothers and the sisters-in-law, and all the nephews and nieces. Surely they must be taking the city soon. I’ll just tie this scarlet cord in the window like the spies told me to, so the soldiers know which is my house.

Day 7: Joshua
Listen up men! I’m sure you must all be thinking that this is a strange way to win a city, but I think we should all have got used to the fact by now that God has his own ways of getting things done. I am proud of you all for your unquestioning obedience over the last six days – and especially pleased with you all managing to keep silence during our daily marches. You will all be pleased to know that today is the day!

Today, instead of once round Jericho, we go round seven times. You still need to keep quiet when you’re marching, and the Priests will still be blowing on their trumpets. But, at the end of our seventh time around the Priests will blow a long blast on the trumpets, and that’s the cue for you all to let rip with your voices. Shout out loud – praise the Lord with all the strength of your lungs because He has given you the city!

 

Conclusion:

The Battle of Jericho is the first battle of the Israelites during their conquest of the land of Canaan. The army was ready. They had been training to get into battle mode. They had the right fighting stuff – armour, swords, shields, bows and arrows. And this was the first battle of the campaign. There was  anticipation and there was excitement…Now let’s get ready to rumble!

It starts out normal enough – send in spies to see what the enemy is up to before going into battle. Find out where the guards were placed, whether anyone disliked the king and could help them, what weapons and armour the guards had, when the guards changed shifts, how much food, water, and other supplies the city had, and the height and width of the walls to determine how to overcome the city. I would say that is very normal battle tactics, and those tactics are still used today.

God had given specific instructions for battle to Joshua. We have just read and even been and acted out that battle. And I can’t think of any part of that battle that is normal battle tactics! When you were pretending to be a soldier all ready for battle and then had to be quiet and walk around the city you were ready to fight, what did you think?

I have spent a while thinking about this reading and realised our God is not a “normal” God. He likes to mix it up, do it different. I think we tend to put our human expectations and limitations on Him. He enters a city by walking around it for seven days so that the walls fall down with a shout. Not normal.

God likes to do the unexpected but it always takes something on our part first, – then in the Bible and now today. Faith and obedience. Joshua and his army obeyed God’s word, trusted in God’s promises, and were rewarded with the fulfilment of God’s promises to them.

If you are getting ready for battle, are fighting with something – simply ask God for instructions, have faith it will happen and obey Him. It may not be what YOU think will happen, but, hey, remember our God is not a normal God restricted by our understanding and limitations.

 

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Make a “Trumpet”

You will need:IMG_0698

Drinking straws
Baking paper
Card/advertising flyers
Sellotape
Scissors

For each “trumpet” cut the straw to about 4 or 5 cm long; cut a piece oIMG_0700f baking paper 4mm wide and 14 cm long. Fold this in half, ensuring that if the paper curls at all, the two loose ends curl towards each other. Feed the baking paper into the piece of straw so that the loose ends are just inside the end of the straw and the folded end sticks out. Bend the folded end over the end of the straw and tape it down. Now, blow through the straw from the end where the paper is taped down – the loose ends vibrating inside the straw will make a noise.

Now make a cone shape out of card, or recycle by using stiff paper advertising flyers. Push the straw into the narrow end of the cone and blow – the noise is amplified, and you have a “trumpet”!

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God the Potter – Isaiah 64:8

You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

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Busy making play-doh – look at those colours!

We used this verse as our basis for the Extreme Makeover – the God Edition service. And what better way to illustrate that than to make play-doh. Am I the only person in the world that thinks play-doh is horrible stuff? Well, I was certainly in the minority on Sunday when everyone else enthusiastically joined in with making it.

For our prayer activity we asked everyone to make something out of the play-doh to represent what they wanted to bring to God in prayer. Those who wished to were able to speak about their creations. After the service, the kids got to take the play-doh home in jam jars.

This is the recipe we used for the play-doh:

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cooking oilIMG_06452 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 cups boiling water1 teaspoon food colouring

Mix all dry ingredients, add oil and boiling water with food colouring, mix well.

 

 

 

And Sharon Kirby has written a beautiful poem on the theme of God the potter – God is shaping me – which we used as part of our prayers.

 


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The Rainbow – Living together in unity (Psalm 133:1)

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“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

As a reminder of how we are all different, but together we make something beautiful in God’s eyes, we put together this gorgeous jigsaw picture.

Now obviously this required pre-planning. Vanessa’s husband cut out the individual wooden pieces – we went for straight sides with a groove at the bottom and a lip at the top, so they would fit together nicely, and also so that it didn’t matter if not everyone brought one back. These were delivered to each family (one per person) during the week before the service, with basic instructions to decorate them in any way they wanted and to bring them along on the Sunday. We had time during the service to share what we had done and why, and then Gail took it home to glue it all together.

We are planning to have this on display at each service and, hopefully, have a permanent position for it in the Church when it is finally rebuilt.

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We also did a skit adapted from the story “The Rainbow” (written by Anne Hope, 1978, based on an Indian legend), inviting everyone to come along in rainbow colours for the service.

The Rainbow

Narrator: Once upon atime all the colours in the world started to quarrel: each claimed that it was the best, the most important, the most useful, the favourite…..

Green: Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees, leaves. Without me all the animals would die. Look out over the countryside and there is green as far as the eye can see.

Blue: You only think about the earth, but about the sky and the sea? Blue is the colour of water which is the basis of life. The water in the rivers, the lakes and the sea. Blue is the colour of the sky, which gives space, peace and serenity.

Yellow: You are all so serious. I bring laughter, fun and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow and the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower the whole world starts to smile. Without me, there would be no fun.

Orange: I am the colour of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the inner need of human life. I carry all the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes and pawpaws. I don’t hang around all the time but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you.

Red (shouting): I’m the ruler of you all. Blood – Life needs blood. I am the colour of danger and bravery. I am willing to fight for the cause. I bring fire in the blood. Without me the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the colour of passion and of love, the red rose and poppy.

Purple: I am the colour of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs and bishops, have always chosen me for I am a sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me, they listen and obey.

Indigo (quietly): Think of me. I am the colour of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me you all become superficial. You need me for balance and contrast. You need me for prayer and inner peace, for thought and reflection.

Narrator: And so the colours went on like this, each convinced that it was the best. Their quarrelling become louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of brilliant white lightening, thunder rolled and boomed.  Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colours all crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.
Then rain spoke…..

Rain: You foolish colours. Fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Do you not know that God made every one of you – each for a special purpose, unique and different? Each and every one of you is loved and wanted by him. Stand up and join hands with one another. God will stretch you across the sky in a great bow of colour. This will be a reminder of his love for you all, that you can live together in peace, a promise that he is with you and a sign of hope for tomorrow.

 

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Our argumentative Rainbow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Worship Songs

We just love the songs by the Go Fish Guys – they are always so full of life, and are not only great for children, but really good in our all-age worship services too.

Their version of “My God is so big” is a firm favourite. A particular highlight last week was two year old Joelene joining in enthusiastically with the actions as we all sang along to it.


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Who are you?

This is the message Vanessa gave on the First Sunday in Advent. Scroll down the page for details of the Advent Activity pegs we made.

I love this weekend. It is the first weekend in December which means we get to go and get a tree, decorate it, start listening to carols, and the Christmas season in our house begins. I love it that Luke is part of it all and he is putting the angel at the top of the tree for the first time ever this year. It is the anticipation of what is to come, the counting down of the days or how many sleeps to go.

Advent is the period before Christmas when we anticipate and look forward to Christmas,  the day Jesus was born. The day God gave his only Son who would ultimately enable us to have our own relationship with God.

I read and re-read the Winnie the Pooh stories many many many times while I was growing up. I really identified with Tigger and this Tigger song sums it up:

A wonderful thing is a Tigger;
A Tigger’s a wonderful thing.
Their tops are made out of rubber,
their bottoms are made out of spring.
They’re bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy,
fun, fun, fun, fun, fun,
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is:
I’m the only one!

Like me, have you ever identified with someone in a story, seen parts of yourself in a character you have read, or read about someone who you would like to be more like?

Here are a few people who played a part in that first advent, the time leading up to Jesus’ birth.  Let’s see if there is anyone you are drawn to.

ZECHARIAH (Luke 1: 5-23)
Zechariah was a priest, a man who studied the Bible, the way of God, and who lived a good life obeying all of God’s commands.  But something was wrong. He and his wife Elizabeth hadn’t had any children, and they were now too old for this to happen.

While he was at work in the temple one day, an angel appeared to him. The angel told him that their prayers were being answered, they were going to have a baby, a special God-given baby that would prepare the way for the Lord. Zechariah knew that God had done this very miracle before – given babies to women who were unable to conceive. There was Sarah, who had Isaac, Rebekah  who had Jacob, Rachael, who had Joseph, and Hannah, who had Samuel. All of these women were empty, and God filled them. Their painful emptiness was obvious to everyone around them…..and God filled it. You may have an emptiness that is obvious or hidden: please hear this, there is ONLY one thing that can fill that hole, and it is God.

Why had God chosen them? If something happens against all the odds or makes possible the impossible…. then it has to be a miracle. It has to be God. It must be God. It IS God.

So right now an angel is telling Zechariah it was going to happen to them too, they were going to have a baby.  And yet he doubted and questioned it “how do I know that this is going to happen? We are both too old to have children”

He didn’t believe it, couldn’t believe it, he may even have been too scared to believe it. The very thing they had prayed for had come true, and it was too much to take in. Had Zechariah prayed this prayer for so long that it just became empty words he didn’t really believe?

If you have a prayer that seems impossible, it is possible when you pray to God. Be ready to accept it when it comes true, for nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:31-37)

ELIZABETH
Elizabeth was Zechariah’s wife and had also lived a good life obeying all of God’s commands. This tells us she knew the Bible, and had kept her faith with God. She had not gone looking at other religions for the answer to why she was unable to have children. There was a social stigma attached to their lack of children. People would have thought there was something was wrong with them and they were being punished for it. When Elizabeth became pregnant she said “now at last the Lord has helped me. He has taken away my public disgrace.”

Elizabeth was not just old but the Bible says she was very old. An angel told Mary “Remember your relative Elizabeth. It is said that she cannot have children, but she is now six months pregnant, even though she is very old. For there is nothing that God cannot do.” (Luke 1:36-37).

Soon after this, Mary went to visit her. When Elizabeth and Mary saw each other, the baby inside Elizabeth jumped for joy. For this special God-given baby was John the Baptist. And Mary was pregnant at the same time with Jesus. And the connection for advent, the time of preparing for the birth of Jesus is John the Baptist. As it says in the Bible “He will be a great man. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. He will get the Lord’s people ready for him.” (Luke 1:15-17)

How amazing it must have been for these women to share this incredible time. They were both pregnant, and both with miracle babies. Elizabeth was too old, and Mary a virgin. And here they were together, for each other, at this time. We all need someone to support us, and it is often not the same person for everything. Who supports you, who do you support?

MARY
This is something Gail wrote …

Yes, Lord.
Mary said “Yes, Lord.”
Yes – turn my life upside down.
Yes – change my certain future for the unknown.
Yes – take away the comfortable sameness of my life.
Yes, Lord.
Yes.
Yes – make me your servant.
Yes – use me to speak your word to the world.
Yes – bring your glory forth in my life.
Yes – change me forever.
Oh Yes, Lord! Yes!

Would you say yes?

JOSEPH
What’s a guy to think when his girlfriend gets pregnant to someone else? Joseph wanted to break up with Mary, he obviously didn’t believe the story about it being God’s son. That is until he was told in a dream that it was going to be alright, and he was to name the baby Jesus. The naming of a Jewish child had great significance. It is not only a statement of what it was hoped the child would be, but also where they came from. And it was Joseph who named the baby Jesus. Jesus, because he would save us from our sin.

So God is sending his only son from heaven down to earth, not as a fully grown man ready for his mission to save the world but as a newborn baby boy. A baby needing someone to provide love, food, shelter and protection who will grow into a boy. A boy who will learn the way of the world to become a man stepping out on his own who will change the world by what he says and what he does. And who is the person God chose to be the earthly father to Jesus, to adopt and raise him as though he was his own?…… Joseph.

Has God given you someone to care for? A family member:older or younger? A friend, a neighbour, an animal?

I also think Joseph is truly obedient. He obeyed when he stood by Mary, when he didn’t have to. Society would not have thought any less of him if he left Mary, but they would have thought a whole lot less of Mary. He listened to God and stayed with Mary when she was pregnant, he listened to God and took Mary and Jesus to the safety of Egypt, and he listened to God and returned to settle in Nazareth. In obeying all this, Joseph fulfilled the prophecy in Hosea 11:1 “I called my son out of Egypt.”

Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph ….. Who are you?

Vanessa

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Advent pegs 1Bought Advent Calendars are so commercial – and usually have nothing at all to do with the birth of Jesus! We made these Advent Activity pegs with a different activity for each day, which could be drawn at random from a bag to make things a little less predictable – especially if you reuse them another year. Supplies needed are: clothes pegs, glue or double sided sellotape, the templates for the numbers to be written on, and the activity cards – these last two are on .pdf files below.

Advent activity cards

Advent peg toppers

Advent pegs 2


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Jesus is the Reason – an All-Age Christmas Worship Service

Jesus is the reason

Well, Christmas is fast approaching and you may well be going into panic mode – what can we do for the Children’s Christmas Service?? Given below is the whole of one of our previous All-Age Christmas Worship services. Feel free to copy, adapt, or otherwise tweak it for your own use.

(Note: The Leader’s words are in plain text and the responses are in bold.)

WELCOME

CALL TO WORSHIP: 

(Preparation for this section: Have a Christmas Tree without any decorations on it, and with lights arranged on the tree but not switched on. 

Have a basket of ornaments – enough for the number of children you expect so that each one gets to put a decoration on the tree. During the Call to Worship, after each response ask a group of children to come forward, take a decoration, and put it on the tree)

We have a lovely tree here but there is something missing – can anyone tell me what it is?
that’s it decorations and lights.

Like Mary we ponder the wonder of God acting through us
FOR THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND FOREVER
(First group of children put decorations on tree)

Like Joseph we obey what God was spoken
FOR THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND FOREVER
(Next group of children put decorations on tree)

Like the manger we cradle the light God has given
FOR THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND FOREVER
(Next group of children put decorations on tree)

Like the angel on the hillside, we announce Jesus is born
FOR THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND FOREVER
(Next group of children put decorations on tree)

Like the multitudes of angles we praise God with great joy
FOR THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND FOREVER
(Next group of children put decorations on tree)

Like the sheperds we gather eagerly around the baby
FOR THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND FOREVER
(Next group of children put decorations on tree)

Like the stars we shine with the brilliance of good news
FOR THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND FOREVER
(Next group of children put decorations on tree)

Like the people of Bethlehem we hear what God has done
FOR THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND FOREVER
(Next group of children put decorations on tree)

We are called to celebrate the gift of God – his son Jesus Christ
FOR THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND FOREVER
(Next group of children put decorations on tree)

(Once the tree is decorated, turn on the lights, saying:)
Thank you for all your help. You know, we are like this Christmas tree and when we have Jesus in our lives he lights us up.

(For this next part you need a narrator, and 5 or 6 helpers)
It is getting very close to Christmas, only 5 sleeps to go! Christmas can mean different things to different people. Maybe it is some of these things for you:

It is about having the best tree in the whole world
(All helpers stand and point at the Christmas tree)

It is about presents
(All rub hands together and say YEAH)

It is thinking the Christmas story starts
(One helper to read first few lines of “Twas the night before Christmas” )

It is about Christmas crackers and Christmas cards
(Helpers snap crackers and pass cards to each other)

It is listening to the Queens message
(One helper to put on a crown)

It is about having too much good food and good wine, then falling asleep
(Helpers pretend to eat, drink, then sleep)

It is about having paid leave
(A helper waves a handful of monopoly money)

It is about Santa with flying sleighs and reindeers
(Two helpers put on Santa hats)

Me, I think Christmas is about something very different indeed. I have a friend who knows a great story about Christmas. Let me get her and she can tell you all about it.

(Here either the Narrator gets dressed as angel, or you can bring in another person to do this part. You also need large signs to hold up with pictures of an Angel, an Inn, Sheep, and a Star, and a further sign with “Jesus” written on it.
You will also need five boxes wrapped in Christmas paper arranged at the front. On the back of each of the boxes– not visible to the congregation –  is one of the letters needed to spell JESUS)

Hello. I hear you want me to tell you a story about Christmas. Well yes, I know a TRUE story about Christmas, and I know it is true because I was there, but I will need you to help me tell it.
The front half of this side, up to say here, when I say ANGEL you say HALLELUJAH  and to help you remember that (helper one) will hold this ANGEL up.

The back half of this side, when I say INNKEEPER you say WHAT IS IT NOW and to help you remember that (helper two) will hold this INN up.

The front half on this side, up to say here, when I say SHEPHERDS you say BAAAA and to help you remember that (helper three) will hold this SHEEP up.

And the back half, when I say WISE MEN you say FOLLOW THAT STAR and to help you remember that (helper four) will hold this STAR up.

BUT, when I say WHAT WAS THE REASON, you ALL say JESUS IS THE REASON, and to help you remember that (helper five) will hold this up (SIGN WITH “JESUS” on it)

Right lets give it a go:
ANGEL (Hallelujah)
INNKEEPER (What is it now!)
SHEPHERDS (BAAAA)
WISE MEN (Follow that star!)
WHAT WAS THE REASON?  (Jesus is the reason!)

Great – let’s start

MARY TO BETHLEHEM
A long time ago, about two thousand years or so, there was a woman named Mary who was engaged to be married to a man called Joseph. One day an ANGEL (HALLELUJAH) came to Mary and told her that she was going to have a baby. When she told Joseph, he was a bit freaked out about it all because he knew it wasn’t his baby as they weren’t even married. So an ANGEL (HALLELUJAH) came to Joseph and told him it was alright, because it was God who caused Mary to be pregnant and they were to name him Jesus. So Joseph and Mary got married and waited excitedly for the day when the baby would be born. Just before the baby was due to arrive, Joseph and a very pregnant Mary had to travel to Bethlehem for a census. This was when the rulers wanted to count everybody. Mary was pretty lucky because she got to ride all the way on a donkey.

What was the reason an Angel spoke to Mary and Joseph: JESUS IS THE REASON

Song: Clippety-clop, clippety-clop, trotting to Bethlehem

JESUS BORN
Joseph, Mary and the donkey finally arrived in Bethlehem. They found that it was really crowded because a lot of people had come to be counted for the census. All the inns were full and the INNKEEPERS (WHAT IS IT NOW) were very busy. They tried all day to find somewhere to stay but with no luck. It was getting dark. Mary was tired. Joseph was tired and the donkey was tired. Knock, Knock on the last door. A flustered INNKEEPER (WHAT IS IT NOW) answered the door. He told them THERE WAS NO ROOM IN THE INN, then he saw how tired and how very pregnant Mary was and he said that they could sleep in the stable. That night, amongst all the animals in the stable, Mary had her baby and laid him in the manger. And they named him Jesus, just as the ANGEL (HALLELUJAH) had told them to.

What was the reason the Innkeeper let them sleep in the stable: JESUS IS THE REASON

Song:  Away in a Manger

SHEPHERDS
While all this was happening in Bethlehem, there were some SHEPHERDS (BAAAA) out in the fields looking after their sheep. Suddenly they were scared out of their wits. There were bright lights in the sky, and some really really good singing. It was ANGELS (HALLELUJAH). They told the SHEPHERDS (BAAAA) not to be afraid. They had come to bring them great news. “Today in Bethlehem a saviour has been born. He is Christ the Lord and is lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes.” They sang praises to God and then they disappeared.
Well the SHEPHERDS (BAAAA) were really excited. This sort of thing had never happened to any of them before.  They immediately leapt up and ran to find the baby. They found the inn, and asked the INNKEEPER (WHAT IS IT NOW) where the baby was. He told them that Mary and Joseph were out in the stable. So they went in and found baby Jesus lying in the manger. The SHEPHERDS (BAAAA) then left and told everyone in Bethlehem what had happened that night.

What was the reason the SHEPHERDS went to Bethlehem? JESUS IS THE REASON

Song: While Shepherds watched

WISE MEN
Far far away some really really really smart guys – lets call them the WISE MEN (FOLLOW THAT STAR) – had seen something rather amazing. They had spotted a special star shining in the East and thought “Hmmm, this star means a king has been born. We’d better go and find him.” So the WISE MEN (FOLLOW THAT STAR) packed up their camels, followed the star and made their way to Bethlehem. When the WISE MEN (FOLLOW THAT STAR) found the Inn, they asked the INNKEEPER (WHAT IS IT NOW) where the baby was. He directed them to the stable and there they found the baby Jesus. The WISE MEN (FOLLOW THAT STAR) gave Jesus three gifts. Gold because Jesus is a king, Frankincense because that means Jesus is a priest, and Myrrh because Jesus was going to grow up and die on the cross for each one of us .

What was the reason the WISE MEN went to Bethlehem? JESUS IS THE REASON

Song:  We Three Kings

And that’s the TRUE story of Christmas with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, and the ANGELS (HALLELUJAH), and the INNKEEPER (WHAT IS IT NOW), and the SHEPHERDS (BAAA) and the WISE MEN (FOLLOW THAT STAR).

(At this point turn the “present boxes” around to spell JESUS)

Christmas is about the best present we have ever been given, Jesus. It is about having his presence in our lives every day not just Christmas day. Mary and Joseph became a family with the birth of Jesus in their lives, just as we become part of God’s family with the birth of Jesus in our lives. Jesus is the real reason for the season, of Christmas.

PRAYERS

SONG:  Carol our Christmas (a New Zealand Christmas Carol)

COLLECTION – including donations for the City Mission

PRAYER OF BLESSING

NOTICES

SONG: Joy to the World

DISMISSAL WITH BENEDICTION BLESSING