Friday, 25 November 2016

Christmas Windows Nativity Play

The main prop is a huge 9 pane window which has the letters for Christmas and there are images on the back side of each pane which represent the parts of the Christmas story.  

The younger kids act out the play (stage right with the manger scene) with the older ones reading the meanings on the windows (centre stage at the shop window) and narrators stage left (by tree).  

Non Speaking Roles:
Mary -
Joseph –
Donkey -
Angels –
Shepherds -
Magi/Kings -

Speaking Roles:
Child 1 –
Child 2 –
Narrator 1 -
Narrator 2 –
Narrator 3 (Lead) –
Narrator 4 (Bible Reader) –

O Little Town of Bethlehem
Away in a Manger
While Shepherds Watched
Silent Night
We Three Kings
Joy to the World
We Wish You a Merry Christmas

- C – Census - Angel visiting Mary and Joseph and then they were called for a census.
- H – Hard Journey - Jesus and Mary travelling on a donkey to Bethlehem
- R – no Room - Knocking on inn doors, no room at the inn
- I – In an Inn’s stable - Jesus was born in a stable
- S – Shepherds - Shepherds on a hillside visited by an angel and travel to visit Jesus
- T – Truth – the Shepherds knew the truth of peace on earth
- M – Magi - Wise men see a star in the East and follow it to Jesus to give him gifts
- A – Answer – Jesus was the answer to their search for meaning
- S – Saviour – Jesus is our Saviour

Props: Large Shop Window with 9 panes (print or draw pictures)/ Huge Bible for “reading” /  
Costumes for the nativity play actors / Manger and other scenery


SET: Centre Stage - “CHRISTMAS” Shop Window.    Stage right - Manger Scene is empty.  Stage left – four narrators are facing Christmas tree chatting quietly…… From stage right: two children walk along and stop to stare at the window.

(Child 1) What is this window?  Where are the toys? What is it selling for us girls and boys?
(Child 2) What are the letters? And who is that crowd?
(Child 1) Be quiet and listen, they’re speaking out loud.

(Narrator 1) How much do you love Christmas?
(Narrator 2) So much.  Two whole weeks off school!
(Narrator 3) No homework to get done.
(Narrator 4) And no one forcing us to get out of bed.
(N 2) Do you think anyone will come to church this Christmas?
(N1) Of course, it’s always full, sometimes there’s not enough room for everyone
(N3) I hope there’s enough room for my friends
(N4) Have they been before?
(N3) No, and I’ve made a special surprise for them, to tell them all about Christmas
(N2) Cool.
(N1) What is it?
(N3) It’s behind us and I’ll need your help, look……
SET: narrators all turn around and look shocked at all the people in the church

(N1) where did they all come from?
(N2) they must have snuck in when we weren’t looking.
(N4) sneaky, very sneaky!!
(N3) and look, my friends have arrived and they’ve seen the surprise.  Hi xx, Hi xx.
(Child 1) Hi, Happy Christmas
(Child 2) What’s this?         (pointing at shop window)
(N3) It’s a surprise, to help us explain what Christmas is all about.
(Child 1) Cool, can we help?
(N3) Of course.

(Child 2) Is it all about the presents?
(N1) No.  It’s MUCH better than that! 
(N4) It starts with Mary and Joseph, they lived in Nazareth, they were going to have a baby and ……
(N3) Wait, wait, wait!  We’re going to look at each letter in the window. 
(N1) Every letter of the word CHRISTMAS.
(N2) Let’s start with C then.
(N3) OK.  xx, pick up letter C and let’s see what’s on the other side.
Shows the scroll picture to everyone (and it appears on the screen)

(Child 2) What is it?
(N1) C for Census.  The Christmas story starts with a census, a count of all the people.
(N2) Everyone had to go back to the town, where they were born, to register their family.
(N3) And pay their taxes
(N4) The Bible says “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.”

Mary and Joseph hold hands stage left and very slowly start walking across the stage with Donkey

(N2) Mary and Joseph had to travel all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
(N3) That’s a very, very, very long way, almost as far away as Birmingham.
(N1) Could that be the letter H perhaps.  xx do you want to look?
(Child 1) Yes, it looks like a journey.
Show the picture (and it appears on the screen)

(Child 2) But would they really have walked as far as Birmingham?
(N2) Well they couldn’t get a train or a plane!
(N3) Exactly, there wasn’t any choice, they had to take the long hard journey
(N1) H for a HARD journey.  Mary was pregnant so she rode on a donkey.
(N4) The Bible says “Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee. He went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. This town was known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David.  Joseph registered with Mary because she was engaged to marry him.
(Child 2) I know a song about Bethlehem I think……

All sing “O little town of Bethlehem”

(Child 2) Let’s look at letter R; what is this one all about?
Show the picture to everyone (and it appears on the screen)

(N2) R stands for Room, there were no rooms left at any of the inns in Bethlehem.
(Child 1) No rooms in any of the inns?
(N3) No, no room at any of the inns
(N1) They were all full because everyone was there for the census, thousands of people
(N4) The Bible says “While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby.  There were no rooms left in the inn.”
Mary and Joseph and donkey wonder around looking more and more worried and sad

(Child 1) But you said Mary was pregnant, she needed somewhere to sleep
(N1) Yes, she did, and she found somewhere.  The answer might be behind the letter I.
Child 1 Show the picture to everyone (and it appears on the screen)
Mary and Joseph sit by the manger and the donkey sits down near by

(N3) I stands for Inn, but really it was just an Inn’s Stable
(N2) Smelly!
(Child 2) And dirty!
(N1) But quiet and safe.  And that was where her baby boy was born!
(N3) They called him Jesus, it means “God saves”.
(N4) The Bible says “She gave birth to a son. She wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger”
Mary and Joseph place Jesus inside the manger.

(Child 1) Can we sing again? 
(N2) How about away in a manger

All sing “Away in a Manger”

(Child 2) That was a nice story about Jesus, thanks.  And that’s why we have presents?
(N3) Well yes, but that’s not the end of the story, there’s a lot more to come.  Let’s look at letter S.
Child 2 Show the picture to everyone (and it appears on the screen)

(Child 1) What is that picture all about?
(N2) S stands for Shepherds, they were the first to receive a message of great joy about Jesus.
Shepherds enter stage left and sit with sheep

(N1) Angels came to them in the fields and told them about a new king, Jesus.
Angels enter and stand around the shepherds

(N4) The Bible says “That night, some shepherds were in the fields nearby watching their sheep.  An angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord was shining around them, and suddenly they became very frightened.  The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, because I am bringing you some good news. It will be a joy to all the people.  Today your Saviour was born in David’s town. He is Christ, the Lord.  This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.””

All sing “While Shepherds Watched”

(Child 2) A Lord?  You never said anything about a Lord
(N3) Yes, a Lord or King that they had been expecting for hundreds of years.
(N2) That is the letter T. T stands for Truth told by the angels
Child 1 Show the picture to everyone (and it appears on the screen)

(Child 1) Why would a King be born in a stable?
(N1) Because he was a different sort of king, a king from God.  A king for everyone in the world, even the shepherds on the hillsides.  That’s why the angels told them first.
(N2) When the angels left, the shepherds hurried off the hills
(N3) They went into Bethlehem to find Jesus and give him thanks.
Shepherds walk across the stage to the stable and sit around the outside.  Angels go with them.

(N4) The Bible says “Then a very large group of angels from heaven joined the first angel. All the angels were praising God, saying: “Give glory to God in heaven and on earth let there be peace to the people who please God.””
(N1) Let’s sing Silent Night

All sing “Silent Night”

(Child 2) Is that the end now?
(Child 1) No, look, there are three more letters in the windows.
(N3) Yes, three more letters.  Shall we look at the letter M.
Child 2 picks up M and shows the picture to everyone (and it appears on the screen)

(Child 2) I know what they are, they are the three wise men.
(N1) Yes, or they might be called Magi.  M stands for Magi.
Kings/Wise Men enter stage left and start walking around pointing at stars in the distance

(N2) They brought gifts from afar and came to worship Jesus.
Kings put the presents at the manger and kneel down around the outside

(N4) The Bible says “After Jesus was born, some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem.  They asked, “Where is the baby who was born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east. We came to worship him.”  They saw the same star they had seen in the east. It went before them until it stopped above the place where the child was.  When the wise men saw the star, they were filled with joy.  They went to the house where the child was and saw him with his mother, Mary. They bowed down and worshiped the child. They opened the gifts they brought for him. They gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

All sing “We Three Kings”

(Child 1) Is there anyone else who comes to visit?
(N3) No one that the Bible tells us.  But we have two more important things to tell you
(Child 2) Shall we look at letter A?
(N1) Go on then.
Child 2 picks up letter A and shows the picture (and it appears on the screen)

(Child 1) Why is there such a bright light on the stable?
(N2) The light shows that Jesus is a gift from God; He is the answer for the whole world.
(N3) The A stands for Answer
(N1) The answer is to follow everything Jesus tells us; to help the poor and heal the sick
(N4) The Bible says “A child will be born to us.  God will give a son to us.  He will be responsible for leading the people.”
(N3) And the last letter gives us the meaning of this whole story. 
(N2) The reason why we celebrate Christmas with presents and happiness and celebration.
(N4) The Bible says “His name will be Wonderful Counsellor, Powerful God, Prince of Peace.”
Child 1 picks up letter S and shows it to everyone (and it appears on the screen)

(N1) And Saviour, S is for Saviour
(N3) Jesus lived and died so that when we say sorry to him, we are forgiven.
(Child 1 and Child 2) Wow
(N2) It’s amazing good news isn’t it.
(N1) Let’s sing again, a song of Joy about Jesus and His amazing love for us
(N3) I know just the carol “Joy to the World”

All sing “Joy to the World”

Thanks, Prayers and Blessing

All sing “We wish you a Merry Christmas”

Monday, 14 November 2016

Twisted Liaison #mspoetry

Short Circuit
Nerves Entwined
Twisted Liaison
This is what I fear
every time I face stairs;
that nerves will short circuit
and I'll fall down
taking everyone with me.

I never know
When nerves will spark
Twisted Liaison

Who really wins? #mspoetry

Winners and Losers
In the US Election
Who really wins?

Who really wins
In the games of power?
The top dogs

The top dogs
Spraying their territory
Digging up bones

Digging up bones
The future will despair
These sad times

These sad times
Will form resistance
Hope will win

Hope will win
History tells us this
In our hands

In our hands
What will we mold?

Blending differences
Social Orchestra

MS Symptom Rack #poetry

rack up symptoms
quite a collection 
don't be jealous

Saturday, 12 November 2016

MS: the snowball disease

People like to say that MS is a snowflake disease: 
it's different for everyone.  

I prefer to think of MS as a snowball disease;
it's squishing all the snowflakes together and throwing them at me all at once.  

I guess that makes me a snowman;
I'm taking everything MS throws at me and keeping on keeping on.  

Bringing MS Calling into the Fold

I started MS Calling exactly a year ago, it seems like it's been so much longer than that, but it really was 12th November 2015.  MS Calling: A bit of an Introduction

Looking back it's clear that I was hoping to keep the MS as a part of my life and therefore I started another blog to keep all talk about MS at a distance.  But what's become clear over the last 12 months is that MS is part of me, and that it will have less control over my life when I accept that it's part of who I am.

In reality, MS has been part of my life since I was 17 (possibly longer) but because I never had a diagnosis for all the crazy things which I used to experience I just got on with it.  Well guess what - I'm just going to keep getting on with it - after all I don't have any other choice.

What this means for blogging is that I'm bring MS Calling back into the fold and bringing it here to LLM Calling.  All the MS Calling posts written over the year are now safely here within LLM Calling and I've created a tab for the specific posts so you can find them easily; or search the blog.

All new posts I write about my life, no matter what they refer to, will be here at LLM Calling - that's everything from parenting to marriage, from faith to politics, in poetry or prose, from physical to mental health, from birth through to death.
Everything together, accepted as part of the whole.
Welcome Home MS Calling.

Disabled Dreams: Coping with Change

On Tuesday this week I spoke about how we can cope with change and what I've learned as my dreams have been disabled.  These are the notes I wrote, who knows what I actually said, but they seemed to like it.

I have a dream
In the words of Martin Luther King: “I have a dream”.

Actually, I have many, many dreams, aims and plans; ideas are not a problem for me.  The only problem I have is that life has a habit of getting in the way of these dreams; life literally keeps disabling my dreams.  This is frustrating, upsetting and depressing.  I don’t like change which is out of my control.  It brings out the toddler in me and makes me stamp my feet and throw a tantrum.  Once I calm down, and have a chat with my inner adult, there’s no option but to find a way to cope.

Disabled Dreams
There have been four major change points in my life.  I’m going through one right now and it’s this which has made me reflect on my dreams; what it means to be disabled; how we can cope with change as individuals, pioneers and communities and what light may shine through brokenness.  The table below shows what happened at these four times.

Theology of disablement and community; drawing on John Vanier 
John Vanier, founder of the 130 L’Arche communities around the world, has written about disability and theology.  I have been inspired by his reflections and want to share a few.  In “Community and Growth” he says “Growth begins when we start to accept our own weakness” and in “Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John” he says “The message of this gospel is simple. It is about being chosen to become a friend of Jesus. It is about mutual presence and learning from each other. To live as Jesus lived and to love as he loved”.

Jesus healed disabilities; the blind man, the woman at the well, the dead, children and even the dreaded tax collectors.  Jesus knew that this was necessary to bring them into community with others and with God.  Jesus even created community when he was himself disabled, on the cross; he showed us how to live when he formed community between John and Mary.

This was a demonstration of the love which rejoices in each and every one of us for who we are; a love which wants us to love ourselves and others despite our brokenness.  Most of us are not healed dramatically in the way that Jesus healed through his ministry, but love and acceptance within communities are a blessing which can heal and allow a true happiness and love between all.

In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with Gold – the art is called Kintsugi.

The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history and adds to its beauty.
John Vanier wrote “Sharing weakness and difficulties is more nourishing for others than sharing our successes”, it is what God wants of us within communities.

It is what pioneers are called to create; what I feel called to in my disabling, to allow the light to break through the brokenness of life to heal others.  But how do we move beyond our broken dreams?  How do we move beyond our disappointments and failings and disabling?

Disabled Dreams Model
I have a really simple model which we have been exploring in our missional community for coping with change and which I have been testing to the limits in my own life.  It is a model which has God at the centre and prayer surrounding it.  It is about trust and calling, acceptance and sharing.

As we have tried this out we have made some interesting reflections:
- Every person will be disabled at some point
- We all need to grieve different stages of life and ministry
- We’ve never been given permission to lean before, it’s so empowering
- Listening has become a sign of weakness but we need to re-generate its value
- Is every change or disablement therefore something which gets us closer to God? 
- The disabling itself is an opportunity to dream a new dream

Dreaming through Change
I have always seen the disabling times in my life as problems to be solved, as hurdles to be overcome; but life us teaching me that problems and hurdles are everywhere.  It is in these times of weakness that I find God with me and see His call on my life.  It is in these times that God shines light into the brokenness and seals gaps with His Gold.   God does not want me to focus on the disabling of dreams, but on the opportunities to serve Him.  Life is not about merely coping with change but about leaning and trusting God and embracing the call to be His disciples in communities together.