Build a Box

Way, way back in the dawn time. Well around the start of 2001, I found myself in Albania as part of the Action Team gap year scheme ran by BMS World Mission. Now I could tell you what I found myself involved with, but it was so crazy and varied I’m only going to focus on the one thing:

Shoeboxes.

I don’t mean random boxes containing shoes, I mean presents put in shoeboxes for children around the world.

I mean Operation Christmas Child style shoeboxes.

These shoeboxes are collected up at supermarkets, schools, and churches* around England and sent abroad to give to poor kids.

That’s one side of it. I was lucky enough to see what happens to the boxes on the other side.

Simply put: These boxes can be a great bridge builder between Church and the community where these boxes are being shared, and if the chance raises, it can also be a chance to share the link between giving of presents and the gift of Jesus. At the end of the day, no matter who gives them out on the other end, it is a chance to make some sort of difference this Christmas time.

Now, why I’m I waffling on about this? We discovered the fantastic Shoebox World website this evening, part of the Samaritans Purse / Operation Christmas Child setup, this is a website that takes the hassle out of putting a box together.

It’s easy to use.

More importantly, it’s not to late to give a needed gift.

* and more then likely a 101 other types of locations.

Operation Christmas Child FAQ
Shoebox World
Samaritans Purse

 

Weekly Round Up: The Star Edition

Its getting nearer Christmas, so take a break from the Christmas shopping (which I’m avoiding), and catch up with some weird and wonderful stuff we’ve found online:

Bah Humbug?

Two things.

I love Christmas. Really I do. I love warm mulled wine, the taste of warm spicy apple, Christmas decorations, good will to all men – and all that. I love the fact that the combination of Christmas and New Years is a ready made excuse to catch up with friends and family. I’ve not even mentioned The Doctor Who Christmas special…

Also. Even with its bag full of faults, I also love the Church. A group of people trying to live like Christ? When it goes well, it’s one of the most beautiful things to be part of.

So. Why do I get particularly bored of Church at Christmas? I don’t mean the church I go along to, I mean the whole lot. When I say “the whole lot”, I mean the the carol services, the readings, the carol services, nativities, and more Carol services.

I just can’t help but find approx 6 services with the same readings and same old tunes a tad on the predictable side.

I’ve not even got started on “Away in a Manger” or the lyrical contents of other Christmas Carol tunes… Thinking about it, are there any Christmas worship tunes?

Well…

What advice do I have for anyone else who may also feel the grumps about Christmas? Simply put. Find a way to engage with the Nativity. Be it by watching the latest high budget non glossy production on TV, following either someone like @natwivity or @sofachristmas, following a reading plan on YouVersion, or simply just read it for yourself in the Bible. Let’s face it, we all ‘know’ the story but how much could there be that we’ve missed? Or forgotten? After all they say it’s the greatest story ever told and when we really ‘get it’ it probably is…

Engage with it the way you can, then get back to church. Because even through it feels predictable, that can be what people are looking for at this time of year.

Over to you.

  • What do you think of the Church at Christmas? Is it predictable or special?
  • Do you also have an attack of the “Bah Humbugs” during particular Christmas Carols?

The Original Christmas PhotoBlog

A long time ago… Well last Easter, inspired by the Easter Live event hosted by Share Creative, we presented an Easter Play starring members of the Star Wars Universe. Where members of the Rebel Alliance, and the Evil Empire joined forces to tell the Easter story.

Yes it was crazy, but it was good fun. It also inspired us to maybe do something for Christmas…

Inspired by comments at #cnmac11 inviting us to “tell a story”; we’ve decided to do exactly that, and tell the Christmas story through using a photoblog.

Our aim is to go some way to answering: If Christmas happened now, in modern day England… What would it look like?

Join us, either at the Christmas Photoblog website, or follow it on Twitter.

What was Tony Jordans: “The Nativity” about?

Well. Its been and gone, but what was Tony Jordans: “The Nativity” all about?

Easy Answer. The Birth of Jesus

Was it really?

You have the Magi, Herod, Elizabeth and the whole cast but the script seemed to really draw out two characters; Thomas and Joseph. Two guys struggling with faith. Thomas  has a simple job as a shepherd. He believes in God, but struggles with money, work, health, and finding his place in the world.

While Joseph, in my opinion has the biggest story of them all. A little shy and perhaps a little unsure of himself we see him fall in love with the girl he’s been dreaming for, we see how much he misses her when she was gone, and we see his heart break. We see him question, we see him run, and we see him return.

A few days ago I commented to @iccleanne, that the Church almost seems less human around Christmas time. Worship becomes about predictable carols, sermons almost become guessable, the whole Church thing at Christmas… I cant help but sometimes feel its scripted…

The Nativity reminds us of the humanity at the centre of Gods heart.

Even if Mary is wrapped in Blue by the end…

Watch on iPlayer.

Why Christmas?

Christmas.
Its a mad time really, full of dashing around making sure everyone is happy, but have you ever wondered about some of what we do at Christmas, such as:

  • Why do we have Christmas Trees?
  • Why bother sending Christmas Cards to each other?
  • Who on earth is Father Christmas anyway?
  • Where did this all start?

The WhyChristmas website aims to answer these questions of the season and many more, and worth checking out.

How to find a carol service

Want to find a carol service?

Maybe you fancy a chance to do something traditional, eat some mince pies, sing a few carols by candle light, or something?

Well if you’re in the Exeter area then you have www.findacarolservice.com, yes the picture is a little cheesy, yes there is  bug in the database (put a space in your post code – or its odd), and no my own C of E church isn’t in there… oh and there seems to be a church called NULL…

…but I do like the idea.

(With hand tip to the mouse.)