The Story Sack Recently a colleague was telling us of a way to share your own personal faith story with children by using a story bag in which you place items that relate to your faith journey that explains your story in a more visual way for children. This idea is the basis for this year's All Age Christmas service and we thank Rosemary Kidd (Training & Development Officer, Manchester and Stockport) for her inspiration! The retelling of the Christmas story is an important part of any Christmas service and we hope that this way opens up the story in many different ways for children and adults alike. After listing the item or prop from the sack we have expanded a little on the connection to the Christmas story. You may come up with many more of your own! Prop – An old worn sack under the Christmas tree with the items below inside - Take the sack out and explain that it has been left there and perhaps we should all take a look inside and the contents. As you take each item out of the sack you can either pass it around the children and adults or maybe lay it on a large table or covering at the front of the Church. The idea is that people get to experience each item either through sight, smell, or touch. Use ‘wondering’ type questions to ask those in the church to engage with the story that is being told - 'I wonder what this has to do with the Christmas story?, I wonder what this makes you think of? Prop- silver tinsel – This can remind us of Mary, a young girl who was visited by angels and was asked to do an amazing and quite frightening thing by God – to have a special baby that would change the world. Prop – a piece of carved wood – Mary was going to marry a man named Joseph who was a carpenter, he made things from wood. Prop – a bag of sand- the long journey through the rough terrain that Mary and Joseph made on the donkey. What would the landscape have looked like, how would it have felt underfoot? Prop – Hay- reminds us of the stable, used to keep the animals warm, used as food, harvested from the fields. After the long journey how would the stable have looked? Prop – Nappy- When the baby was born it would not have had a nappy like this wrapped around it but it would have been bundled up to keep it warm from the cold night air. How do you imagine Mary and Joseph would have felt being so far away from home with a new baby to look after? Prop – Woolly scarf – think about the shepherds and the sheep out on the hillside. Although we think of the sandy desert of Israel as being warm it gets very cold at night on the hills. (Check the actual weather in the area on the BBC weather site!) Prop – a piece of velvet and/or a crown – Other people who came to visit the new baby are described as Kings, Wise Men, or Astrologers who watch the stars. They had known where the baby was born by following a bright star in the sky. They too had travelled from far away to see Jesus. Prop – A bottle of scented oils and a bowl – the gifts they bought remind is that Jesus was born to be a King, but not the kind of King that had great palaces and armies, but the kind of King who was to lead people to a new life and new understanding of how to live. Encourage the children to share in touching and smelling the oils. Prop – pieces of sack cloth similar to the one used to put the items in. Remind all the congregation that this story is not just to be remembered at this time of year but it is part of out whole lives as Christians. At this time of year we can sometimes forget the whole story of the life of Christ and today you are giving them all a piece of the sack to take home and asking them to hold on to this and use it as a prayer reminder for the months to come. Alternatively you may want to tie in the pieces of sack into the phrase 'sackcloth and ashes' – which was an Old Testament way of saying that we had to be humble before God. Jesus was humble in all that he did with the ultimate expression of this being his walk to the Cross and his willingness to give up his life for all of us. The piece of sack cloth can then be taken away by those present as a reminder of the connection between the baby Jesus and the crucifixion.
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