The Christmas period was a bit odd this year because Christmas Day was on a Monday so Christmas Eve was on a Sunday – that meant two services on the trot. Our minister, Rev Stephen, was scheduled to take them both so no rest for him! Ten days before, we received an email saying on Christmas Eve we were going to have a "Turn-Up-and-Take-Part Nativity" – whatever that was! The email did come with an out-line of the scenes: Nazareth, Bethlehem, a Field, and the Stable. Also a list of well-known Christmas carols to be played by Rick, on the organ, and Liz Spain, on the flute; incidental music by Susie, on the keyboard, and sound effects – "Busy Market-place", "Crying Baby" and "Sheep"! Finally: bring your own costumes! I was able to borrow a genuine shepherd's crook, arab shemagh and headband, others brought along baby Jesus, straw, a manger, containers suitable for gold, frankincense and myrrh, assorted crowns, tinsel for angels etc. On Christmas Eve Rev. Stephen also brought a box of assorted costumes and copies of the script. He got volunteers for the main parts: Mary, Donkey, and Wise Man, and off the production went. Mary had a modern approach to life: on hearing she was going to have a baby her response was: "Oh great!". The donkey was pleased that that even a pregnant lady couldn't get an up-grade at the inn so had to join him in the stable. The Wise Men were tired after their long journey so went to King Herod's Palace, only to realise their mistake and then go onto Bethlehem.
As a mere stand-by shepherd I was amazed the story was told unrehearsed, to time and was enjoyed by all, both participants and congregation. It made a wonderful start to Christmas by delivering the message that God has made us, God has come to us and God is with us in 2024 and always.