Christingle talk

This is a fairly straight-forward Christingle talk. For a more interactive option, see http://www.becausegodislove.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/christingle-acrostic-talk/

Did you realise, today we’re doing several things at once?  We’re making some beautiful Christingles, but we’re also telling a story.  It’s an amazing story, the most amazing story of all, and it starts at the very beginning of time, and goes all the way up to right this very minute, and into the future too.  And what’s more, we’re all in it.  Every single one of us is included in this amazing story.  And the Christingles help us to remember and tell the story.

[orange]

Right back at the very beginning of time, there was nothing.  Nothing at all except God.  And then God created the world, and everything in it.

[cocktail sticks with sweets]

And God filled the world with all sorts of good things: plants and animals, and mountains and rivers, and the sea and the sun and the moon, and people as well.  And God saw that everything he had made was good.

But it didn’t stay good.  People did things that they shouldn’t do, and bad things started to happen in the world.  And God saw that all was not well with his world, which he loved very much.  People were doing bad things, and they didn’t look after God’s world, and they didn’t look after each other.  Now, if you’ve done something bad, you might expect to be told off, or punished in some way, mightn’t you?  But instead of punishing people for the bad things they had done, God chose to give them – to give us – a gift.   God chose to give us the best, most special, most precious, most extravagant gift he could possibly give, better than any Christmas present you could possibly imagine.

That gift was God’s own son, Jesus.  At the very first Christmas, God gave us his one and only precious son, Jesus Christ.  And God didn’t just give that special gift to Mary and Joseph and the Shepherds and Wise Men, he gave it to everyone, forever.  God gave his son to you, and you, and you, and me, and everybody.

[candle]

Jesus came to be a light to the world, like we heard about in our bible reading just now: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”  Before Jesus came into the world, people were walking in the darkness of all the bad things they were doing, all the bad things that were happening, and most of all the darkness of not knowing God in their lives.  When Jesus came into the world, he was the light that took away that darkness, and helped people to come to know God.

But Jesus wasn’t only a light for the people who were around when he was alive on earth.  He is a light for all of us today.  Jesus is the light which shines in our world, and in our lives and in our hearts, and drives away the darkness of all the bad things in our lives.  And no matter how bad something might seem, there is never anything too dark for the light of Jesus to overcome.

Jesus Christ came down to earth at the first Christmas, a gift from God our father, and a light to the world forever, but that isn’t the end of the story.  Even as we celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas, we are looking ahead to Easter, when he died for us on the cross, and rose again to give us eternal life.  And that’s another chapter in the same story of God’s love for us.

[ribbon]

The red ribbon on our oranges represents God’s love for us, and it’s red to remind us of Jesus’ blood, poured out for us on the cross.  To remind us of that great act of love, Jesus Christ, God himself, dying for each one of us.  For you, and for you, and for you, and for me, and for everyone.  That great outpouring of God’s love for us, which encompasses the whole world, the whole of God’s creation.

And so the Christingles we’re making today represent the whole story of God’s love for us, from the very beginning of the world, right up to this very minute, and on into the future.  And at the centre of it all is Jesus.

[candle]

Jesus Christ, God’s only son, who came down to earth at Christmas as a tiny baby, out of love for us.

Jesus Christ, the light of the world, a light so big that it lights up the whole world, and everything that’s in it.

[orange and sweets]

A light that chases away the darkness.

Inside each one of us is a little piece of that great light.  Inside you, and you, and you, and me, and everybody.  Each of us carries the light of Christ in our hearts.  Each of us can shine like lights in the darkness.  We shine when we help people, when we’re kind to people, when we love people, like God loves us.  Then we drive the darkness out, and let in the light of God’s love.

When we leave this service today, we will take three things with us.  We will take our Christingles, which will last a little while, until we eat them or the orange goes a bit mouldy.  We will take the memory of the story we’ve shared and the songs we’ve sung, and hopefully that will last a bit longer.  And we’ll take the light of Christ in our hearts, which will last forever, a light that can never be put out.

In our bible reading from Isaiah, we heard that Jesus came to be a light to those who walk in darkness.  Elsewhere in the bible, at the start of John’s telling of the Christmas story, we read this: “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it”.  At the end of our service today, we will blow out the light of the candles in our Christingles.  But nothing can ever blow out the light of Christ within us.

This Christmas, may we remember the story of God’s love for us; may we live out the truth of that story in our own lives; and may we shine as lights in the darkness, to the glory of God.  Amen.

Christmas prayers for school services

I came across a couple of sets of prayers which I’ve used at school Christmas services in the past, and thought I’d post them in case they’re any use to anyone. Feel free to use and adapt.

Here’s a short prayer and blessing:

Loving God,
You sent Jesus into the world to bring us peace,
May we know your peace in our hearts;
You sent Jesus into the world to bring us joy,
May we rejoice in the coming of the saviour;
You sent Jesus into the world to bring us hope,
May we live as people of hope.

Eternal God,
You sent Jesus into the world to live among us,
To shine as a light in the darkness,
To be a sign of your love for each one of us;
May we know your love in our hearts and in our homes,
And may the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Be with us all and those whom we love,
This Christmas and always.
Amen.

And here’s a longer set of prayers:

Lord Jesus Christ you came to bring us peace; may your peace rule in our hearts and in the world. We pray for those places in the world where there is no peace: for countries torn apart by war and unrest; for homes and families where there is conflict; for friendships and relationships which are not as they should be. Lord God, breathe your peace into these situations, that this Christmas may be a season of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Lord Jesus Christ you came to bring us joy; may we rejoice at the coming of the Saviour. We pray for all who will celebrate the birth of Christ this Christmas, for all churches, schools and Christian communities around the world. Lord God, fill us afresh with the awe and wonder of your coming among us as a tiny child.

Lord Jesus Christ you came to bring us hope; may we live as people of hope. We pray for all those for whom hope seems far off: for those who are ill or anxious, for those in prison, for those who are homeless, for refugees. We pray particularly for those for whom Christmas is a stressful, lonely or difficult time. Lord God, shine your light in their darkness, and light up their path with your hope.

Lord Jesus Christ you came to show us the love of God for each one of us; may we know that love in our hearts this Christmas and always. You came to show us how to share that love with one another; may we be ready to love, help and serve other people in your name.

All this we pray in the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ,

Amen.  

A Very Quiet Nativity

In previous years I have enjoyed using Pat Rapp’s excellent “Noisy Nativity” as the basis of an improvised nativity. An adult narrates the story and the children join in with various noises as you go along. It’s great fun, and was my first thought when I found myself planning a session at short notice for an unknown number of children, of unknown ages, for tomorrow’s service.

But then I remembered that the session, which takes places during the sermon, is happening in an area which, though somewhat removed from the main body of the church, is not separated from it by anything even vaguely soundproof. So anything with “noisy” in the title is obviously out! This inspired me to devised a Very Quiet Nativity, with actions for the children to join in with (silently!) instead of noises. Here it is, in case it’s any use to anyone else:

 

Actions:

Angel – flap hands like wings

Donkey – hands on head like ears

Stable – form roof shape with hands

Shepherds – looking, hand above eyes

Wise men – crowns, hands sticking up each side of head

Star – as for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Baby – as if rocking a baby

 

Script:

One day Mary was amazed because suddenly an ANGEL appeared and told her she was going to have a BABY called Jesus.

Mary and her husband Joseph set of to Bethlehem on their DONKEY. Mary was very tired because it was nearly time for her to have her BABY.

There was no room at the inn, so Mary and Joseph had to stay in a STABLE and that’s where BABY Jesus was born.

Near Bethlehem were some SHEPHERDS looking after their sheep. Suddenly the SHEPHERDS saw some ANGELS who told them about BABY Jesus. The ANGELS sang a beautiful song praising God and then the SHEPHERDS hurried off to the STABLE to see BABY Jesus.

A long way away were some WISE MEN who saw a special STAR in the sky. The WISE MEN decided to follow the STAR, which led them to the STABLE where they gave some special presents to BABY Jesus.

And so everyone gathered in the STABLE: Mary and Joseph and their DONKEY, the SHEPHERDS and their sheep, the WISE MEN with their presents. Above the STABLE the STAR shone and the ANGELS sang. And in the middle of everything, most important of all, was the little BABY, Jesus.

 

Having practiced it in front of the mirror, I suspect it may lead to quite a lot of (rather loud!) laughter, but it should be fun! Feel free to use and/or adapt if useful.