Here's an overdue post on what we did last December - our third annual Interactive Christmas event. Our theme was "Hope, Joy, Peace, Love".
1. Arrival Activity - "Starry Christmas"
Decorate a star with all kinds of stuff. We used the Natural Mesh Star for this and had some racks where they could be hung to dry and collected later. We also gave out bags for people to collect their stuff in during the evening,
This activity is designed as a welcome and holding space for people before they enter the plenary session which runs for about 15 mins.
2. Joyful Christmas
Our plenary session featured music from the MiniM Choir of young adults who sang three pieces, including the fabulous version of "Joyful Joyful" from the movie Sister Act. A segment of video from the start of the Gospel of John Visual Bible DVD set the scene for the narrative (large screen projection with a short throw lens so it served as a backdrop). Monologues from Mary and Joseph characters about finding joy in unexpected news.
We had tree branches sliced into thin disks with a hole drilled into each. People could make Christmas decorations from these.
4. Clay Christmas
This was an opportunity to make something from the Christmas story. You know, clay type of thing... a clay donkey, a clay angel, a clay baby, a clay Herod, whatever....
5. Video Christmas
We collected a bunch of short videos about Christmas and put them on a computer as a self-directed exploration (in Keynote but it could just as easily been Powerpoint) - one clip on each slide, forward and back buttons and a front menu screen with movie thumbnails as hyperlinked action buttons.
Sorry but I haven't kept a copy of where all of the videos came from, but fantastic stuff. I'll try to work it out and post here. I know that Jon Birch's stuff from Proost featured well. SO many good Christmas clips out there...
6. Peace Christmas
We had a table making origami Sadako peace cranes, as our Christmas tree in the church was being made up from these gradually during advent. It looked quite stunning in the end. The activity also provided an opportunity to talk about why we were making them.
7. Photo Christmas
As we did last year, we set up a photo space with a backdrop, video light, manger and dressups. People could arrange to have a photo taken and emailed to them. This proved very popular as it did last year. Fascinating to see families come back for another photo and the dynamics change!
8. Tasty Christmas
Previously we've had food that had some kind of symbolic meaning, but on this occasion the activity host simply had people making tasty treats to take home...
9. Tiny Christmas
We invited members of the congregation to lend us nativity scenes and set these up with candles as illuminaion. We were lent some amazing (and some scary) sets and overall it was quite lovely.
10. Quiet Christmas
Four prayer stations on the themes of Hope, Love, Peace and Joy.
HOPE - star lights, video of loop of Magi from The Nativity Story DVD, tea candles, textas. Music loop was "Emmanuel" by William Ackerman from "The Carols of Christmas" - playing on a small speaker so it could be heard quietly throughout the room.
PEACE - laptop, data projector and a video loop of an angelic figure, Christmas cards, crayons/coloured pencils.
Music (on iPod with Belkin Hub and 2 sets headphones) - "Maria Matrem Viginem" by Anuna from the album "Sanctus"
Card design #1 - here
Card design #2 - here
JOY - Michael Leunig's book "Holy Fool" opened at p170-171, light box, black paper, coloured cellophane, scissors, tape.
Music (on iPod with Belkin Hub and 2 sets headphones) - "Joy To The World" by The Pawn Shop Kings from "Snow Globe: A Christmas Collection" - it was free at NoiseTrade.com before Christmas but not currently available.
LOVE - incense burner, Sally Morgan's book "The Art of Sally Morgan" open at p 146 "Mother and Children", pottery sculpture of mother and child, bowl of water, bowl of chocolates
11. Craft Christmas
Helen usually designs a few craft activities and this time I didn't even get to see what they were! Tables full of people interacting and making stuff.
13. Christmas Tree
I laboriously made this Christmas tree into one giant image in Photoshop, then erased about half of the content (as per example here). The invitation was to draw and colour it with part of the Christmas story, either from Jesus' time or today. I had this printed at a commerical printer and it cost $80.
14. 3D Christmas
An opportunity to cut out and make popup card nativity and during the process chat about the story.
15. Singing Cbristmas
Two years ago we had a "live" holy family, with Mark and Luci and their new baby Anna. Well Mark and Luci recently had another baby daughter Layla! Mark had to work so we roped in an unsuspecting Joseph. Once again we had a 'stable' with straw and manger in the youth room (metal frame. black cloth, star lights), meditations from "The Cloth and the Cradle" and one by Cheryl Lawrie, and live music by Leigh Newton. Sadly on this occasion I didn't get to see it in action or take a photo.
16. Blessing and BBQ
As people left to go out to the tennis courts for a BBQ they received a laminated take-home blessing, created from some words from Roddy Hamilton.
May we be people of the light
people who followed a star
and found a child of heaven
and a chorus of angels.
May light find a home in us
shining love, joy and mercy
into dark places
May we see the light-prints
of God among us
Glimmers of hope, goodness
and peace for all
As with every event, I'm delighted and somewhat disappointed. I'd like the experience to be more edgy, and I'd like us to connect better with people who come along...