Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Whole-Church Nativity Play

The Leeds Minster Nativity Play.

This year’s nativity play has a part for everyone. Including you. Everyone gets to play the people of Bethlehem and the angels. But don’t worry, you don’t have to dress up. Unless you have brought a tea towel or a halo and want to. 

N: (sings) A long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy bible says. 
N2: well actually it all started in Nazareth. 
N: [tries to sing] a long time ago in Na-na-na-zareth. [speaks] Oh that doesn’t sound so good. [carries on speaking] The angel Gabriel visited a teenager called Mary. 
All: Greetings. You are highly favoured. God is with you. 
Mary: [screams] An angel? What on earth does this mean? 
Why is there never a sofa to hide behind when you need one.
All: Don’t be afraid Mary. God is really impressed with you. You are going to have a baby and you must call him Jesus. He will be great and will be known as the Son of God. God will give him King David’s throne and he will reign in Israel for ever. 
Mary: How is that even possible? I’m not married. I haven’t even kissed anyone so how can I have a baby?
All: It will be a miracle. The power of the Holy Spirit will make this happen so that the baby can be called the Son of God. Even your old cousin Elizabeth is pregnant.
Mary: What? Elizabeth? Now that really is a miracle. She is ancient!
OK. Tell God that I will do anything that he wants me to do.
N: So Mary went to see Elizabeth. As soon as Elizabeth saw Mary, the Holy Spirit fell on her and she recognised that Mary was going to give birth to the Son of God. Mary was so impressed that she sang a best-selling song about it. The Magnificat. 
Mary: no-one ever sent me any royalty cheques though and you sing it every week.
N2: Meanwhile, back in Syria.
Quirinius the governor: Tax them! We need to tax them. And we need to find out how many of them there are so they can PAY UP.
All: Boo! We don’t want to be taxed.
Governor: Tough! You will need to visit your home town.
All: Boo! We definitely don’t want to visit our grumpy relatives.
Governor:  Well stay in a hotel then!
N: Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem. 
Mary: The baby is coming! 
N2: Hold on Mary. Joseph is going to find you somewhere to stay. 
N: But Joseph was having problems. He tried the Travelodgeus, the Premiereus Inn and the Bethlehem station hotel.
All: No room here. You should have booked in advance. 
N: So then he tried the boutique hotels
N2: He means the little scruffy ones. 
All: No room here either. 
N: and then he tried the Bethlehem Farm hotel. 
At last he found a room there. 
All: Oh no he didn’t. 
N: Oh yes he did. 
All: Oh no he didn’t. 
N: Its behind you! In the stable. [points at the crib] Mary gave birth to Jesus there and placed him in the feeding trough. 
N2: Meanwhile. There were shepherds living in the fields. Looking after their flocks by night. [shepherds enter]
Chief Shepherd; Its so boring minding sheep. Nothing interesting ever happens here.
All (sing) Glo-ooooooooooooria. In excelsis deo. 
Glo-ooooooooooooria. In excelsis deo. 
Chief shepherd: What’s going on? Am I dreaming. 
All: No.We’re angels and this is real.
Chief shepherd: I’m not Robbie Williams. I don’t believe in angels.
All: You do now. Don’t be afraid. We’ve got good news. God has sent someone to save you and he’s just been born in Bethlehem. You’ll find him wrapped in cloths and lying in a feeding trough. 
Chief shepherd: Not in a cradle in a house then?
All: No. In a manger. 
Chief shepherd: Come on shepherds. We’ve got to go and see this!
Wow! Its just like they said it was going to be. That baby is so amazing. He’s got a brilliant smile. 
N: Meanwhile far far away in the East some very clever people were watching the skies. They had seen a star which showed that a new King of the Jews had been born. 
N2: Being very clever. They realised that kings were usually born in palaces. So went to see Herod All: Boo! in his palace. 
N1: You can tell by the booing that Herod  All: Boo! was not a popular king.
Herod: Hi I'm king Herod, All: Boo! I’m THE king of the Jews. Some people say I'm not very nice. Just because I killed my brother-in-law, and executed two of my sons. But I'm a magnificent ruler and a great builder. I've built a temple, the biggest most beautiful temple ever in Jerusalem. Plus I've built a palace. I called it Herodian - after my favourite person - ME!!
N2: Just then, the travellers arrived, a servant announced that they had been following a star.
Herod: A STAR? Hahaha! What have they been doing that? I must meet these loopy people and see for myself. 
King: Greetings your royal highness. We’re looking for the new born kind of the Jews. Where is he?
Herod: (angrily) King of the Jews? I’M the king of the Jews. There isn’t anyone else!
King: We’re looking for a new born baby. The star in the sky tells us that he has been born and we want to worship him. Have you just had a baby?
Herod: BABY? BABY!!! There is no baby here. What is this about? I know I’ll call my priests and ask them. They’re very clever. They must know. 
N: So Herod (All: BOO!) asked his priests. They told him that the Messiah (the holy king) would be born in Bethlehem. That he was going to be a ruler to save the people. That he was going to look after them like a good shepherd.
Herod: Are you saying I’m NOT a good shepherd? 
[All cough and splutter]
N: There must be germs around. The royal court seems to have had a coughing fit.
Herod: Now, you three. When did you first see this star in the sky?
King: A few months ago. 
Herod: Well go to Bethlehem and find this child for me. And when you’ve got him come and tell me so I can go and worship him. 
N2: We all know what sort of worship he means. One with a big pointy sword. (All: BOO!)
N1: Once the kings had set off for Bethlehem and were pointing in the right direction they saw the star again. They followed it all the way to where Baby Jesus was. Then they worshipped him and gave him presents. 
N2: The first king gave him gold. 
N1&All (sing): Money money, money. Must be funny. In a rich mans world.
N2: Baby kings need lots of gold to build things.  
Herod: Like my brilliant temple and palace.
N2: and also pay their servants.  
Herod: Haha! Pay my servants? That’s a new one. 
All: Boo!
N1: The second traveller gave him incense. It smells great. And when you set light to it the smoke rises to Heaven looking like our prayers rising to God. [All cough]
Herod: You didn’t have to light QUITE that much. It sets off my asthma. What weird presents? Why didn’t they just give him a rattle?
N1: Incense is used by priests and like a priest Jesus will help us get close to God. 
King: I brought him myrrh. Its a kind of medicine which is good for healing wounds. Jesus will heal people too, just like a prophet. Also I have a strange feeling that he might need it for his own wounds one day.
N2: The wise travellers didn’t go back and see Herod though. 
Herod: Where ARE those weird strangers? They didn’t come back! Bah! I know - I’ll kill ALL the babies in Bethlehem. I’m not having any other king getting in the way. 
All: BOO!
N1: Good job an angel appeared in a dream. 
Angel (All): Mary! Joseph! Run away from here. Go to Egypt where you will be safe. 
N2: The angel warned the three kings too. 
Angel (All): Go home by a different route. 
N1: But they were very glad to meet the baby King who was going to save not just the Jewish people, not just the Romans. But the whole world including people like them, and people like us, from nations very far away.  THE END.

All:  Or is it only the beginning?

The story of Gabriel and the Shepherds

Gabriel and the Shepherds. 

Here is the story from this year's crib service. Feel free to use in a worship situation if you wish.

This story is about a very special angel called Gabriel. Angels are God’s messengers, and you can see lots of them flying up to Heaven on our glass screen over there.

One day God the Father called the angel Gabriel to go and see him. He said he had a very important task for him to do. He was to go and see a woman in Nazareth called Mary, and tell her that she was going to give birth to a baby called Jesus. Gabriel was puzzled.
“Jesus? But that’s your son’s name.”
“Yes that’s right. He’s going to be born as a human being.”
“A human. But humans aren’t very nice. They shout at each other and fight each other. They can be really mean and horrible.”
“Yes, I know,” said God, “He is going to go and teach them how to be better and love each other. He’s going to fix it so that they don’t have to die anymore.”
“Wow,” said Gabriel. “That’s a very brave and wonderful thing to do.” And off he went. 
Nine months later God called Gabriel again. 
“Its nearly time for Jesus to be born. I’d like this birth to be really special, really unusual. I’ve got a lovely manger lined up for him. It can be a sign so that people looking for him will know they have found the right baby. All the other babies are lying in beds and cots.”
“What? A manger. A dirty, smelly manger that cows eat from?”
“Yes. But its not dirty. We’ll make sure he has some lovely clean straw, and the animals will help watch over him. Anyway, I have another task for you. I’d like you to book the angel choir to sing and I’d like you to make an announcement of the birth. A really amazing announcement. But you can only make it to one group of people.”
“Can’t we tell the whole town?”
“No. Just one group of people. Go away and have a look at all the different people in Bethlehem and decide which group you are going to make the announcement to.”
So Gabriel went away, and started visiting different groups of people. 

He thought that maybe he should look at the important people first. Surely he ought to tell the people who run Bethlehem that there is a new king. So he went to Bethlehem town hall and looked through the window. Two councillors were pushing each other. “No! I’m having the best seat at the new year dinner."
 "No, me! I’m more important than you.” 
Gabriel disguised himself as a human and opened the door.
“Go away!” they said “We’re having an important meeting.” 
So he did. These proud and horrible people didn’t deserve to hear the news. 

Then he went to see the weavers, but they were so busy weaving a piece of cloth for King Herod that they didn’t even look up to say hello to him. He coughed and tried to attract their attention but they simply weren’t listening. So he went away. 

Then he went to see the ladies who make cheese in the town. He heard them talking about the shepherds. 
“Those shepherds are horrible. They smell. I won’t talk to them.”
“No I won’t talk to them either. I’m sure they steal things when we’re not looking. And they never go to the synagogue to pray.”
“Well isn’t that because they have to stay in the fields to look after the sheep?”
“That’s no excuse. I bet they’ve got fleas.”
Gabriel thought the cheesemakers were cruel saying such nasty things about a whole group of other people. So he went to see the shepherds. He hid behind a tree so he could listen to what they were saying without them seeing him.
“No-one ever talks to us. When we say hello to them they never say hello back and when I go into a shop they put everything away behind the counter. They don’t trust us.”
“I don’t have any friends. People think we’re dirty and smelly. Nobody loves us. We never get invited to anyone’s parties.”
“I’ve never been invited to a birthday party in my whole life.”
“Oh that’s so sad.” thought Gabriel. “Well this birthday party is one you will get invited to!” 
He called up the angel choir, turned on the shiny lights on his robes and appeared to the shepherds in all his glory.
“Wow” the shepherds said. “Don’t be afraid!” Gabriel said. “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is good news for everyone! 
“Even us?” the shepherds said “Yes. Especially you.” Gabriel replied. “The Saviour baby Jesus has been born tonight in Bethlehem! You’ll find him wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger.”
Then the angel choir began to sing some fantastic music so beautiful that it took the shepherds’ breath away. 
“Wow! That was amazing” they said.”Lets go and see the new baby”
So they went down the hill to Bethlehem, taking their sheep with them, and saw Mary, Joseph and the baby. When baby Jesus saw them he gave an extra big smile and stretched out his tiny baby hands. 
“At last there is somebody who is pleased to see us.” 
It was a day the shepherds remembered for the rest of their lives, and the funny thing was, that after that, everyone else in town started to be nicer to them too.  


Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Story of Benjamin the Shepherd Boy.

Here is the story I wrote for our very first crib service today. Please feel free to use it if you wish.

Ever since Benjamin was little, he always wondered what God looked like. People told him a lot of things about God. That he was powerful, that he made the world and all the beautiful things in the world. That he saved the Jewish people from slavery. Yes, but what did he look like. Benji asked his dad, Moshy.
“Dad. What does God look like?”
“I don’t know young Benji. No-one has seen God, and we’re not allowed to make pictures of him. Why do you keep asking?”
“Because I really really want to know.”
“Well why don’t you go and see Abraham the rabbi.”
So young Ben went to see him. Abraham was very wise, he taught all the small Jewish children stories from the bible. He was kind and smiley, and he had a very long white beard that went all the way down his chest.
“Rabbi. What does God look like? I want to see him.”
Abraham laughed. “Little Benji . You can’t see God. He is too big. Too amazing, too wonderful for us. We wouldn’t be able to cope with the brightness of his face, just like you can’t stare at the sun without hurting your eyes. God is even brighter than that. Even the holy prophet Moses only got to see God’s back, and afterwards his face shone so brightly that it gave everyone a headache and he had to wear a veil.”
Benjamin went home sadly. He had really hoped that the rabbi would be able to help him.
Many months passed. And still Benji wondered. Sometimes he looked up at the sky and tried to stare very hard past the stars. Maybe he would see God peeping around the corner of the star curtain of the sky, peeping from Heaven. But he never saw anything.

Until one night. Something amazing happened.
Benji was helping his father and his brothers mind the sheep on the hillside. It was a very cold night. They had wrapped up warm in fur jackets and they had lit a fire to keep their toes warm. Then suddenly a big white shiny person appeared. It was so scary at first that Benji hid behind a really fat sheep with fuzzy hair.
The shiny person was an angel - and the angel had a message.
“Don’t be afraid shepherds.
You can come out from behind that sheep Benji! I’ve got some really happy news to tell you. A baby has been born in Bethlehem. He’s the Christ who will make our sad world happy again. Look for the one wrapped in cloth in an animal’s feeding trough.”
Benji felt braver. In the sky he could hear beautiful singing. It was so beautiful that he came out, and while the others were listening to the song, he went right up to the angel.
“What’s your name?” 
Gabriel, the angel said.
“Have you ever seen God?’
“Oh yes. It was God who sent me here.”
“Then what does God look like?”
“I can’t tell you that. Its something you have to discover for yourself.”
And then the angel disappeared.
And the sky was very quiet once more.

Benji was sad that the angel hadn’t told him what God looked like. But he figured that if the angel was so bright and big and beautiful. Then God must be even bigger and brighter and more beautiful still.

And so the shepherds walked down the hill into Bethlehem, looking for a particular stable. In the end it was very easy to find, because a very bright star was shining in the sky, lighting up the way. There was a beautiful lady, looking very tired, and a man and a donkey and a cow. And a baby lying in a feeding trough, just as the angel had said. Benji bent over and looked closely at the baby. It was very very tiny. He looked deep into the baby’s eyes and as he looked the baby reached out a tiny little hand, grabbed his little finger and gave it a squeeze.

Then Benji heard a voice whispering in his ear. It was Gabriel, the angel. He had shrunk himself very small and was standing on his shoulder. “Look Benji. That’s what God looks like? Benji whispererd back. “I don’t understand. This is a baby. He’s so little that he can’t even sit up yet”

“Yes but he’s the Son of God. He’s the one who will grow up and say ‘If you have seen me, you have seen God our father’ Look again!”

And so Benji looked again, and deep inside the baby’s eyes he saw such love. The baby loved him so much that a little tear leaked out of the corner of his tiny eye. He loved him so very very much that he would do anything for him. Anything to make his world better, even if that thing was going to hurt him and make him sad.

And then Benji understood. In the little baby,Jesus, he had seen the face of God. And what did God look like? God looked like someone who loved him very very much.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Video Stock Footage Libraries.

I've just signed up for a free trial at videoblocks. I'm pretty impressed so far and on the free trial you can download 20 pieces of video a day. There are some really nice worship friendly ones in there too. Worth checking out and you can view the clips without buying them.

The other footage library I've been using lately has been showfootage. I got a voucher for some free videos from them when I bought the latest version of Arkaos. Per clip these are quite dear though at $11.99 for a single sale, but if you scout round and like them enough, you can get 75 clips for $1.49 each ($111.75,which at the time of writing translates as £70 which isn't too bad for a whole library load of stuff). Again you can view the clips before you decide whether its worthwhile or not.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A new Transfiguration Hymn

I'm going to sing this to Paul's stunning 'O little Town of Bethlehem" remix, but it should fit any 8686.
The usual rules apply. Feel free to use and tweak if necessary in a worship situation.

Transfigured Christ. Your presence here
Makes faith and sight combine.
Through incandescent clouds of white
God’s blazing Son, You shine.
Now to our feeble human minds
You’re veiled but not concealed
We see in You the Father’s face
The heart of God revealed.

We partly know, and dimly see,
As through a mirror’s gaze.
And yet Your words can make a world
And set our lives ablaze.
Our hearts are tinder dry and cold
We walk through sorrow’s night
And yet within our darkest hours
You say “let there be light”.

Transfigured Christ. We cannot stay
Upon the mountain peak
When evil screams and claws the earth
You call us “Go and speak.”
Come plant your footsteps in our world
And help us follow too.
To offer healing in Your name.
To all who cry for You.

Sue Wallace 2011
(inspired by John G Whittier’s
“O love O life”)

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Angel Beach (The Second Wave)

I accidentally stumbled across this on itunes today. There are some really good tracks and I think you might recognise some of them (an ambient remix of Clocks for instance, or Bittersweet Symphony). I didn't buy the whole album though as I thought some of them were either a bit too cheesy or a bit too intrusive, but well worth checking out to see which ones you like.



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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Slow Wait

From time to time I watch CSI (all 3 of them), despite the fact that they are often a bit gory and depressing. Usually I half watch them, and am doing something on the laptop at the same time (thus missing the gore and keeping the storyline :-) But anyway, that's beside the point. The point is, while they are in the lab doing tests on something or other, they play some brilliant pieces of music. Last night was one of those occasions. And so I quickly looked on one of those sites that lists the pieces of music played, and discovered that the very nice piece of ambient music they were playing was called "The Slow Wait, Pt 1 by The American Dollar, from the album A memory stream. Its one of those still, blissful pieces that you could chant over, or just enjoy for its own sake.

While I'm at it, another artist I discovered recently (I think it was via itunes genius application) was M83. I particularly like "my own strange path", "Strong and Wasted" and "Sister, pt 1" but i haven't reall got around to listening to any of the other tracks yet.

Stop press: I've just been listening to a few other tracks by The American Dollar, and they are definitely worth checking out. So far I've also bought War on Christmas, Call, Anything you Synthesize, Signalling through the flames and DEA, and while I was at it I was recommeded "Dust Breeding" by Stars of the Lid (a 9 minute very ambient piece) and A City Lost by My Majestic Star.

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Friday, March 19, 2010


You're probably really going to hate this idea, but I'm going to mention it anyway!

I was after a song about perfume, (as the gospel reading is about the woman anointing Jesus with perfume) and I really couldn't find one, which was annoying me a bit. Then reluctantly I wondered if there was anything at all I could do with "may the fragrance of Jesus fill this place". So I stuck it on top of "A letter from home" by Ulrich Schnauss and realised that it fitted beautifully and the reharmonisation stripped out the slightly twee feeling that the song had before for me. We are however, NOT having the men singing the first line and the women following meekly after, because that implies that women can't be worship leaders, which is extra bad in this particular context, because there is Mary of Bethany cheerfully pointing the way forward for the whole church in worship with the aid of a perfume bottle. Instead it will be LHS and RHS.

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