Here's the detail of what we did last Sunday with Interactive Christmas. The event was open 5-7pm, with people coming and going when they chose. Unlike Interactive Easter, this time we channelled everyone through the church. As they arrived they received a simple ' program' with map.(380kb PDF) This matched posters (33kb PDF) throughout the venue (icons from the excellent font Speed Bump from 3 Islands Press).
The First Angel - based on the angel coming to Zechariah. We had the text from Luke 1:5-23 (CEV) and a simple poem to introduce the journey. People made the angels that are described here. It was a good activity, but we only had two glue guns (which kids arent allowed to use themselves) and not enough helpers for the busy times. Next time I'd add a couple of face painters and have more helpers and equipment. The issue for us was that this area was a 'holding area' prior to the next activity, so people had to wait here until they were ushered into the next place.
Read on for more...
Sarah Agnew told the story of the Annunciation (angel coming to Mary) which she describes on her blog here. Wonderful, moving.
The whole experience took 15-20 mins, and then people moved out into the rest of the church premises and were able to go to activities in any order (although the building itself provides a natural progression). This gradual people flow was helpful for those running the activities.
The morning tea area (or whatever its called) featured Grace Mitchell's 3 Magi - paintings that were scanned, enlarged and printed on canvas.
Christmas Around the World - As we have a number of nationalities among those who are part of our community, we created a space where people could share something of their 'home' experience of Christmas and learn of others. A large world map (size 2A0, printed from a vector image for about $50). Around the outside were stories and images of Christmas around the world. People could write their own experience/story/custom on a Christmas tree or star and place it on the map.
There were also Christmas foods and crafts to make from around the world, and a computer on the WWW with a link to a site with info about Christmas celebrations around the world. Yvonne organised all this...
Dirty Christmas - Clay is always a winner. We didnt associate this with a particular part of the story, although among the ideas that Dieter helped people with were angels, to continue the theme.
I might add here that the open spaces of the building were just busy, noisy, chaotic. All fine and good, so the enclosed rooms were were the quieter, more reflective experiences took place.
Tasty Christmas - Food is also always a winner. Jill had shortcrust pastry for people to roll out. There were a range of Christmas cookie cutters - stars, trees, camel, angel, bell, sheep, etc, and coloured icinig sugar and sprinkly things for people to decorate them with.
(As an aside, we had quite a few people bring their grandkids to the event.)
Shining Christmas - Both at Easter and this Christmas I've blacked out the Creche room to create a reflective space. I borrowed the idea of Cheryl and co. of using cardboard boxes and lights.
This wall of cardboard boxes (held together by gaffa tape and braced from behind with lighting stands had Christmas art from around the world (from the three "Imaging the Word" books, "Outback Christmas", "The Bible Through Asian Eyes", "Icons", "Holiness and the Feminine Spirit", and "Gospel and Acts" from the Saint John's Bible. There were also nativity scenes, angels and stars. Three boxes had vellum on the back (translucent paper). I rear-projected three looping videos (thanks again cheryl & co. for the idea...). This used Keynote on the Mac with a black background slide and three clips which I moved and resized on screen until they projected into the right spaces. One was a foetus in utero from the BBC series "The Human Body" with audio "So Beautiful" by Urban Myth Club from the album "Helium" (this played on repeat. ie. looping). The second was the "eye" video from DVD "In Motion" by One Small Barking Dog. (this features a blinking eye which is a collage of different eyes of differing skin colours/ages/etc). The third was a sparkly light thing that I got from somewhere...
The room also featured other nativities and angels on tables by candlelight, my iPhone in a black box with a Belkin audio hub and 4 sets of headphones (see right above) playing a looped video - images from The Nativity with "Mary Mary" by Sarah McLachlan (from the album "Wintersong" - minus the First Noel bit) plus the actual movie trailer. Here's the clip (33mb). Tables on the side held additional nativities and angels lit by candles.
At the other end of the room was the light box we used at the Adelaide Fringe - the home-made slide viewer that i inherited from Geoff Boyce (3 fluoros and translucent perspex) plus the three-sided perspex box covered in wax made by blythe and cheryl. inside was this silver tree that I bought in Penola and the word Peace also in silver (borrowed from College - I took their Peace but left them with Faith. There was no Hope ...) The symbol was the Jesse Tree from Isaiah 11 with the invitation to write a hope/prayer for peace. Download Jesse Tree text. (The funky font is Noel - free from dafont.)
Scary Christmas - the next dark room had Margie re-telling the angels coming to the shepherds. Air-conditioning on high to make the room cold. Fairy lights as stars. Two (borrowed) angels revealed by a bright light during the telling, and a Michael W. Smith song... I didnt get to see this in action but heard it went well.
Starry Christmas - Maureen and Rachel invited people to write hopes on stars and place them on a night sky. They gave away star biscuits as symbols of hope.
Once Upon a Christmas - several folk were rostered on to read Christmas stories, plus we had a modified set of Rory's Story cubes. This space tended to only get a few people at a time, which was fine.
Crafty Christmas - Helen and David had a range of craft activities. Placemats, Christmas trees, glue, glitter. You get the picture. Very popular. Lots of mess.
The final experience was our 'live' nativity with Luci, Mark and baby Anna (aka Jesus) - who were delightful to work with. Scott H once again built a metal frame inside the Youth Room and covered it in black cloth. We put hay all over the floor (I had thought of manure as well...).
Lighting consisted of a light 'rope' around the base of the manger and star lights outside the black cloth on one wall. Music mainly by Goldmund ("Corduroy Road", "The Malady of Elegance"), but also a couple of tracks from Bruno Colais from "Les Choristes", and Nick Cave & Warren Ellis from "The Assassination of Jesse James" soundtrack. Athena read two reflections from "The Cloth for the Cradle" from Wild Goose/Iona (text here 900 kb PDF). It was an 'up close' experience, very moving and a great finish to the stations.
We gave people an Iona blessing to take with them:
May the blessing of God surround you
May angels and friends share your journey
May we be safeguarded, loved and cherished
May we walk on holy ground
May people of faith inspire us
May wisdom and justice empower us
May we be wise and strong and creative
May we celebnrate life and hope
May God’s image grow within us
May laughter and courage heal us
May words of life sustain us
All the days of our journey home
Followed by a sausage sizzle outside.
Yes there were things we'd do differently next time. But for now we're just grateful that it went well. We were delighted that playgroup families came along, plus a bunch of people we didnt know at all, our Korean and Japanese folks, and good support from the 'regulars'. A great team effort, a good 'vibe' and well worth repeating. A huge thank you to all involved.