A Godly-Play Type Story about the Flight to Egypt

Scripture: Matthew 2: 13-23
Equipment: Sand bag, Two boxes, Holy Family from a Nativity Set, Angel from Nativity Set

Welcome. Are you ready for a story?

(open bag)

Long ago, in a far off land, (spread sand)

God reached down from heaven and became one of us.

Mighty, All-Powerful God could have come in any shape or form he wanted, he could have impressed us with his power, but he loved us so much, he came as… a tiny baby.

(place Jesus in centre of sand)

Born of his Mother, Our Lady Mary… (place Mary)

To be brought up and supported by Joseph… (place Joseph)

God poured his almighty self into this little form, to be with us, alongside us. God-in-a-child.

The King of the Universe was born in poor surroundings and with no comforts that befitted a King. In a Stable, for animals … and all their dirty, smelly mess.

The King of that land, a man called King Herod had heard that somewhere in his land a King had been born, a great King, an all-powerful King… and he was afraid.

King Herod couldn’t bear the thought of being replaced by a King who rightfully should be on his throne, so he sought to catch and kill this threat before it became a problem.

(remove Holy Family, place box at one corner, walk fingers all over the sand)

He sent his guards all across his land to find and kill the new King who might take his place.

(place Holy Family on top of box)

One night, as Mary and Joseph and the baby were asleep, and angel (place Angel on box) appeared to Joseph in a dream.

He warned Joseph that Herod sought to kill the God-in-a-child and that they should run for their lives, to another country.

(place box in opposite corner)

So, Our Lady, and Joseph took God-in-a-child and in the middle of the night, they ran away to be safe in a land called Egypt (meander the Holy Family through the desert). It was a long, scary, dangerous journey until at last they came to the land of Egypt where they could be safe.

They had to live and wait in Egypt until Herod was no longer King and they had to life as refugees for a number of years before Herod died.

(place Holy Family on other box)

Meanwhile, the guards did some horrible things to any child under the age of two, and killed all of the innocent babies just in case they might be the God-in-a-child who threatened Herod’s job. The tears of the Mothers must have fallen on the land like rain

(fingertip pats on the sand)

When Herod died, the Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream once more. (place Angel)

He told them that it was safe to return, and so Mary, and Joseph and God-in-a-child made the long journey back from the land of Egypt to a place called Nazareth, where God-in-a-child grew big and strong and faithful to God and where everyone called him by his name:


From Nazareth. Out of Egypt.


I wonder…

I wonder how Herod felt to hear that a real King was born.

I wonder what it felt like to leave in the middle of the night and go to a far-off place…

I wonder how it might have felt in Egypt,

I wonder how people feel today when they have to leave their homelands for fear of their lives.

I wonder what we might do, if Mary and Joseph and God-in-a… and Jesus came to our door needing our help.



How to use Prezi for Collective Worship (& other useful bits about using tech in worship)

Death by Powerpoint - a crime against humanityI’ve been speaking to people about Jesus (and in previous lives, other things as well) and supporting that with slides for more years than I care to remember. It started with Harvard Graphics for me, and if you too remember that on DOS then we are both way too old for this game. However, Powerpoint eventually took over and on Windows it has been and remains the dominant presentational tool used. However, we have all encountered Death by Powerpoint where a dull speaker simply reads dense and poorly set out text to a bored and lifeless audience.

Text on it’s own is dull. The visual media was intended for the visual, with text kept to a minimum. I see Dr Bex Lewis report from the many many conferences she attends and am struck by how wordy, how dull, how lifeless many of the slides on screen are like. Once when I was giving a Clinical Paper using traditional old-fashioned 35mm slides, as a poor and unfunded Staff Nurse I could not afford to have any extra slides made above the 5 which the conference would pay for. This focuses the mind somewhat on what you really want to illustrate so it was just the most important diagrams I needed. To fill the space, I went down to the National Gallery and interspersed my talk with classical paintings on 35mm slides (remember them?) and it went down a storm as people remembered images and what I said around the images far better. It was not what was on screen that was important, but the story that I told using the images as backdrop. Less words. More images. Images tell a story for you whilst you spin a yarn.

The TED talks have reinvigorated the scientific conference: short and pithy, scriptless 20 min talks direct to an audience which inspire and invigorate. Every Collective Worship should be like a TED talk and enable those in Worship to leave inspired and challenged.


The story is the important thing. Never read it, but internalise it: tell it from the first person, as one of the witnesses or one of the protagonists (but obviously not as Jesus himself), the woman who was healed, a disciple in the boat, or the Last Supper, someone in the Jerusalem observing the Crucifixion. I seem to spend a lot of time playing S. Peter – especially as he was good at stupid statements at critical times which make hugely useful teaching opportunities. Draw the audience in with what is going on and through that communicate the awesome truth of the Gospel of Jesus. None of these stories are very long. You probably grew up with them, and with a little prompt can remember it fully. It doesn’t matter if a word is out of place, for this is the Oral tradition which you are continuing: worry less about the words, but about the word – the overarching meaning of this story. It’s better also, given in your own accent, the accent of the people you are speaking with, as though we were all there.

Reading from the Powerpoint doesn’t work with Children, especially not in Worship

Children are the worst audience. They don’t hide their boredom or disengagement and the problem with many clergy coming into to Schools to lead Collective Worship (previously known as Assembles, but no longer) is that they have forgotten how visual the story we have to tell is. If you simply read a passage of the Holy Scriptures at them in a dull and lifeless way then they will come to believe that Scripture is dull and lifeless. This is a dynamic collection of stories inherited from an Oral Tradition, which was told and retold before anyone ever got to writing it down. It speaks powerfully and so your Collective Worship should also be powerful, driven and lively. I find that with a well-crafted retelling of a Gospel Story, one can hold a large hall of Children rapt with attention, because most of them have never heard the story. It is said that you have to hear the (whole) truth about Jesus dozens of times before it even starts to make an impact, so start here and repeat until evangelised.

“I won’t use the screen because I’m not technical” is not really an excuse, because the screen becomes the backdrop and the prompt for the important bit: the story. Later in this post, I will guide you step-by-step through effective use of presentation software with a minimum of technical skill. If you don’t know how to do it yet, then why not try and learn: baby steps at first because you have the most important task in primary evangelism later this morning, with undoubtedly the largest congregation you will have all week, to make Christ known through your Collective Worship.

Of course this is but one way to reinvigorating Collective Worship, and if you have a team of people, I highly commend the Open the Book project from the Bible Society which uses real live drama, and backs up my point perfectly. However, few of us have those human resources (on our own normally) and have to tell the story as best we can.

The End of Death by Powerpoint

I do use projected images in Worship, and there are some words on them. I always begin worship with “In the name of the Father…”, use “The Lord be with you” on absolutely every encounter with a group of young people, close with the Lord’s Prayer, the Grace and a proper Blessing and Dismissal because, well, it’s part of the Anglican liturgical heritage and how can you teach authentic Anglican values (as desired by SIAMS) if you don’t frame Collective Worship in an Anglican structure? I use the opening, blessing and dismissal and Lord’s Prayer in non-Church schools as well, but whether in Church or LA Schools, children are never forced to pray. “I invite you to pray. If you don’t want to pray, then that’s fine but please remain still with your own thoughts so as not to disturb those who do want to pray...” If the Humanists don’t think that this is adequate, then they really have no confidence in their misunderstandings.

To support the Worship, I use a presentation tool called Prezi.

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-27 11-14-25

Prezi is available online and for free, but you have only limited space for presentations and have to have an internet connection (although it has run very successfully over my phone). You can create a wonderful Prezi online and download it as a standalone, take anywhere presentation (and I have seen them used very effectively as an interactive kiosk tool) but obviously that is fixed and you can’t modify the Prezi rapidly without downloading a fresh, edited standalone file.

However, there is a very reasonably priced Educational/Non Profit licence which schools and churches can sign up for and which not only gives you much more space but the ability to work offline which is what I normally do, particularly as the firewall in most schools block access to YouTube and your carefully embedded video link won’t play. I always embedd a complete video inside my Prezi – of course it makes the file bigger, but it always works, even offline. You can edit and share really easily without Internet and they are synced with your online version. Editing and reusing is a doddle.


Rather than having traditional “slides” it features a canvas around which the user may roam. Once can zoom in and out of sections, revealing text and images and moving around a graphic, a picture or even text. This means that for storytelling, it gives you a perfect backdrop.

I often call up an image: a painting or an icon of a given story, and then roam around it highlighting details as part of my story

You can call up an image or some text, and then zoom in to make a point, or draw attention to something, zoom out to get a bigger picture.


Notice how little text there is above here.

You can link to YouTube Videos to illustrate or amuse or even help tell the story. I often take an animation like a lego brickmation and have the sound off in order to tell my story over the top. As I mentioned before, I have often reedited these slightly to either trim the beginning (the annoying titles are unnecessary and the audio is often not needed). Most of this basic editing can be done in Windows Movie Maker (free for PC) or iMovie (Mac), but you will need to get the movie from YouTube or Vimeo first.

screenshot-www.freemake.com 2015-11-27 17-52-33

There are many ways of downloading video off the Internet, but my current favourite is Freemake Video Downloader. It is free, but comes bundled with loads of bloatware, which you just have to be careful with and decline to install. Once you wade through that, it is a powerful and effective tool that can download in a variety of formats. My preferred format and which is perfect for Prezi is the one with the little Apple Symbol next to it – 640×480 MP4 (if this means nothing to you, don’t worry, just look for the little Apple icon and you’re fine. Prezi can import other formats, but it needs to upload them, crunch them and send them back (automatically) as the same format I just described – so saving a file directly means that you cut out the middleman.

All you have to do is find the video you want, copy the address of the video and then paste it into Freemake Video Downloader, choose your format and choose just Download.

Making a Prezi

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-23-38

As with all things, Prezi provides a host of templates which enable your presentations/worship to look like everybody else’s. My advice is to ignore those and concentrate more on your look and feel. There is a limited pallete of fonts for each Prezi which prevents the ‘I’ve just got a new presentation tool’ riot of colour, whizzy transitions and fonts which proliferate: Teachers, I’m looking at you. Choose a colour scheme to suit you. Choose fonts which are first of all legible. Non-Serif fonts are generally accepted as better. However if you use Comic Sans then you are patronising the children and you might as well leave now…screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-22-37

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-21-52I tend to create ‘invisible frames’ which I suppose are the closest to slides Prezi has. By being invisible it does not clutter up the screen. There is only one form of transition, praise the Lord, which is the simple fade-in and is all you need: seriously, all you need.

Stop thinking in bullet points.

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-23-16It is possible to do bullet points, and I do occasionally use them, but it should not be your default way of thinking. Consider instead how to illustrate your story. Move through that story using the screen as your support, not your script. Engage by telling the story to, not at your young people.

The Zooming around concept in Prezi is awesome, but you should be careful with moving rapidly across a massive canvas, in and out quickly: it can disorientate, so better to make reasonable, non vomit-inducing moves. Or provide a bucket – your choice.

The rest of this tutorial

The only way to learn is to play: start basic and then progress. My first test Prezis were very basic indeed, then they got horrible and over-ambitious and so I scaled them back to where we are now. It’s a good tool, but it doesn’t replace YOU. Your story is the heart of this: short, pithy, challenging and with something to learn from: oh yes, just like the stories Jesus himself taught…

Collective Worship: Oh Yes We do


Prezi can be viewed and downloaded from here

We are all different. So unique, so special. Different educations and interests, tastes in music or clothes; different ways of thinking, different ways of doing things.

And because everyone in the world was so different, so the way to reach out to the world had to be different:

  • Some in the world were young and some were… more mature,
  • Some in the world were clever and some were … in need of a simpler explanation ,
  • Some in the world were easily confused and some were very strong-minded,
  • Some in the world were cynical and some were open,

But the Boss knew he needed them all in his world-changing team.

And each time The Boss chose someone to follow him, the others said:

We don’t need you.

But the Boss said:

Oh yes, we do!

(get half the audience to yell out ‘we don’t need you‘ and the other half ‘oh yes, we do’.)


The Boss chose hot-headed, loud-mouthed, never-stop-to-think-about-it Peter.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose angel-faced, quick-to-smile, far-too-young-looking John.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose quick-eyed, clever-in-class, good-at-languages Andrew.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose grumpy-faced, stick-in-the-mud, ‘I don’t believe it!’ Nathaniel
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose very-excitable, won’t-ever-give-up, always-in-a-rush Philip
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose thoroughly-nice, his-mummy-loves-him, he’ll-go-far James.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose good-at-maths, rather-selfish, ‘I’ll do anything to succeed’ Matthew.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose never-trusting, always-doubting, ‘I’m-not-sure-about-this’ Thomas.
and the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose not-very-strong, easily-overlooked, ‘I’m-too-small’ James.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose temper-losing, tantrum-throwing, ‘I’ll smash your face in’ Simon.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


The Boss chose very impatient, money-loving, ‘I’ll-do-it-my-way’ Judas.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!


And finally, The Boss chose nobody-special, easily-overlooked, ‘what’s his name?’ Jude.
And the others said: We don’t need you.
But the Boss said: Oh yes, we do!

The Boss chose each one of these twelve disciples, with all their differences. They became a great team, working together. to help the Good News reach the ends of the earth. Even though Judas let the side down a bit, and needed to be substituted for Mattias, who did a good job instead. There were lots of others as well, included some women but we didn’t always write their names down. They told lots of others and they told others and someone told me and now I’m telling you, so we can continue to pass on the good news that our lives can be sorted by Him.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, nor what age, gender, lifestyle, income or education you have. The good news is God has a place for you, and if all of these wierdos, these normal people, these average people, these outstanding, amazing people can come close to God through Christ, so may you.


Collective Worship: In the beginning (Creation, Science & the beginning of the school year)

Creation: Where it all comes from. John 1.1–18.

See/Download Prezi from https://prezi.com/mvuj1cxlit9j/in-the-beginning-new-school-year/

[gigya src=”http://prezi.com/bin/preziloader.swf” allowfullscreen=”true” allowscriptaccess=”always” width=”550″ height=”400″ bgcolor=”#ffffff” flashvars=”prezi_id=mvuj1cxlit9j&lock_to_path=1&color=ffffff&autoplay=no&autohide_ctrls=0″


It’s impossible to gaze up at the sky and not wonder ‘where did all this come from?’ You can’t observe a starlit sky or a sunset without some sense of awe and wonder. Even knowing that the sky at night is red because of pollutants in the atmosphere does not make it any less impressive. As science feels its way forward to the first moments of the big bang, it still hasn’t captured the essence of it all, and there remains a sense that something is behind it all. However, we do know what that something is, not so much a thing as a beyond thing: God.


In the beginning there was nothing: nada, zip, zilch … not even chaos, which would at least have some form, even if it was … well … chaotic.

But beyond the nothingness, there was a something, even if we didn’t have the words to call it anything. This something was a word, well, not just a word, but THE word. The word of God spoken before all space and time, not shouted but whispered, a still small voice amid … nothingness.

That word, that whisper spoken by God, was God: the same as God, which cannot be divided, or diluted, or mucked around with, it didn’t matter how loud he had to speak it, because for God, just a whisper was enough, more than enough, and then springing out from the word, things happened and all creation was let loose …

That word had a name, the name we now know as Jesus … the Man, the Son of Man, the Christ, the Messiah and when that word was said by God, things happened. That word, just a word, was life itself, more than just inert inorganic stuff, but life … life itself that lit up people’s lives, a light that could shine into the darkest, scariest corners of existence and make it good .

There is no dark corner that this light cannot touch, nowhere that can’t hear – somehow – the whisper of the word of God. It’s in everything, through everything, with everything. It’s the thing that glues the quarks together and makes the sun shine, the reason to get up in the morning and the reason to go to bed at night: the fingerprints of God are in all of creation, and the challenge is to spot it.


Go to random word generator on Internet (http://creativitygames.net/random-word-generator/randomwords/8). Note that although some sense might randomly come out, it doesn’t make complete sense. We could continue to mess around with these words : swapping pairs of words or paragraphs of jumbled, meaningless babble but it’ll never be totally right. Try and see.
Imagine this pile of words, and a mighty wind blows through them, like a tornado, and whips up all these words and when they hit the ground again, the fall into the complete works of Shakespeare: imagine how difficult and unlikely this might be … and that’s how likely that all of this world came together by accident, at random, that chemicals and amino acids collided together and made all this in its marvellous, wonderful diversity, and made all you in your beautiful, random wonderfulness.

The truth is, I don’t have enough faith to believe that all of this happened by accident: I don’t have enough faith to believe that you are a random, freak accident and so I have to conclude that something is behind it all, and that takes a lot less faith than believing in the random whirwind.

Application: Faith isn’t Asking the Impossible

We often think of faith and science as opposites, and certainly there are some who would like you to believe it’s a black and white, one or the other kind of decision, and yet as with most things, faith and science overlap, merge, combine … who do you think invented the lasers and the volcanos and the particle physics in the first place? The whole world contains the fingerprints of God, and the more science shows us, the more it shows us the handiwork of God. Hundreds of years ago a wise man by the name of Thomas Aquinas thought about God, and how if you thought of one thing happening, and then thought of the thing that caused it to happen, and then the thing that caused that to happen: like dominos toppling, if you go back and back and back until you run out of causes on this earth, and then go back another one, you are at the thing we call God: the ‘first mover’, the one who pushed the domino in the first place. Steven Hawking and many other scientists have touched on this issue, have explored the wonders of the first few nanoseconds of the creation (or the big bang you might want to call it) and still haven’t got close to the one who pushed the first domino. What was before? The Word. Let us try and hear that word and spot the subtle, oh so subtle fingerprints of God on this marvellous universe.

Let us pray…

Christingle Service, Christmas Eve

You can download a Prezi to support this here Use freely. Share freely.

Christingle Kits and Grace, Knitted Nativity dotted around Church, Candles & Tapers, Fire Extinguishers and Water Buckets in Chancel. Voile covers the big nativity. All words and liturgy on TV/Projection Screen

People gather in Nave; while Tom & Jerry’s “Twas the Night before Christmas” plays



(coming in from the back) 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1…

Christmas starts… now! Welcome to our Christingle Service

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Lord Be With You
And also with you

O Come All Ye Faithful (vs 1-3) ( Number 12 on Carol Sheets)

1 O come, all ye faithful,

joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
come and behold him,
born the King of angels:

O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

2 God of God,
Light of light,
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
very God,
begotten, not created:

3 Sing, choirs of angels,
sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above:
‘Glory to God
in the highest:’

Gather Children in Chancel. Call any stray children to join us.

• Now I won’t want to keep you long tonight as I know you all have to get back to your beds
• because some of you may be expecting something or someone later to call.
• However, before then, I want us tonight to go on a special journey.
• There are so many of us that we can’t actually move, but this will be a journey of the mind: a journey through the Christmas story, and through this journey, I hope that we will be able to remind ourselves of the reason why we gather on this special night, the reason for the season, the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

• So, let us begin our journey by hearing what Isaiah foretold…

Listen to this:

A reading from the book of a wise man called Isaiah

“Once upon a time, everyone lived in the dark,
but now – we can see!
They used to live in a world that was so full of shadows
But now – we have a light to light up our way!

We have God with us
And he has made us happy
He has sent us a baby
Who is to be our King,
And he will keep everyone safe.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

This is certainly an exciting time: and as we get all figitty with the sheer fun of seeing all our relatives, eating lots of scrummy food and may (if we’ve been good) opening the odd present or two! Sometimes, we can miss the reason for the season: sometimes amid the hustle and bustle, the noise, we can lose sight of the stillness, the pause.

My grandma told me something special when I was young, and it forever changed my life.

She played the piano and the organ in Church for many years, and tried to get me to play as well, but I wasn’t ever any good.

She would teach me the names of the notes, what a major key is, what a minor key is, she would try to teach me musical theory, but I was just bored.

Then one day she told me that the best news in the world could be found by playing a simple scale

I had no idea what she meant, so she told me to play a simple 8 note scale.

So I did…

I said “how on earth is that good news?”

She said that although I had played it fine, I had not played it correctly and that I needed to play it the other way. So I did.

Again, I said “how on earth is that good news?”

She said that I had played it the right way, but that I needed to add the pauses…

The pauses? The pauses she said. I needed to add them to the the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th and last notes.

I was frustrated. How can a scale with random pauses make good news? I got up, left the piano and went outside.

Frankly, I didn’t get was she was saying, and I didn’t really like playing the piano much anyway.

Years later, I remembered what she told me, and I even remembered as clear as day the pauses: the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th and last notes.

So I sat down at the old piano and did it, including those pauses

And that’s when I realized the good news she was talking about

Let us sing

Joy to the world (Verse 1 only, Number 11)

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.

Tonight we get the chance to think of the CHRIST who is behind all Christmas

GOD IS HERE – Emmanuel

Let us now sing The First Noel (Vs 1+6) as we turn round to the sanctuary

The First Noel (Vs 1+6) (Number 5)

1 The first Nowell the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay:
In fields where they lay a-keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep:

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
Born is the King of Israel.

6 Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with his blood mankind hath bought:

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
Born is the King of Israel.

Knitted Nativity – dotted around the church, who should be there?

Mary / Joseph / Shepherds / Kings / Animals

As people are spotted, let them go and pick them up and return to form mixed human/knitted tableau

No Jesus, because he is born tonight.

We have another crib in this church, before we see it let us sing While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.

While Shepherds Watched their flocks (Number 7)

1 While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground,
the angel of the Lord came down,
and glory shone around.

2 ‘Fear not,’ said he (for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind);
‘glad tidings of great joy I bring
to you and all mankind.

3 ‘To you in David’s town this day
is born of David’s line
a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord;
and this shall be the sign:

4 ‘The heavenly babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
and in a manger laid.’

5 Thus spake the seraph; and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
of angels praising God, who thus
addressed their joyful song;

6 ‘All glory be to God on high,
and to the earth be peace;
good will henceforth from heaven to men
begin and never cease.’

The Voile is lifted from the Big Nativity

Here we can see all those characters that we collected at the front of Church.

Listen to the story from the holy bible:

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew:

Joseph lived in the town of Nazareth
But one day he had to go all the way to Bethlehem with Mary
Even though she was going to have a baby.
While they were in Bethlehem,
The Baby was born – it was Mary’s first little boy,
And she dressed him up in baby clothes
And made a bed for him in a stable
Because there was no room left for them at the Inn.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

God, the powerful creator of the world, could have sent his Son in power and glory and forced us to be good; but God loves us, and wanted his Son to show us, not force us.

God sent Jesus in the world as a tiny, vulnerable baby; in an obscure corner of the world; so that the saviour of the world would be one of us: tiny and vulnerable in this great big world.

It’s very tempting to only think of the baby Jesus and to forget that this is not the end of the story, but only the beginning. The child born in a smelly, cold, cave which sheltered animals would grow up, and the fabulous stories told of his birth would be mirrored by those wonderful things he did as an adult: to make the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk and to heal the sick; but none of that compares to the ultimate giving – the best present of all, the gift of our eternal life, won by the baby grown into the man, the man who offered himself on the cross.

So remember, don’t keep the baby in the manger, don’t cling onto the chocolate box image of the child, but allow the child to grow, and your faith will grow too – for the mature Jesus is the man who won us the ultimate freedom through the victory of the Cross.

Let’s see about this unexpected Christmas story, as told (rather cutely) by a bunch of kids from New Zealand…



This is a Christingle Service, which means I suppose that we should have some Christingles around here somewhere… Oh yes, you have them in kit form! I hope no-one has opened and eaten the sweets yet…

Because this year, I thought it would be a good idea for us to make our own, and you have the kit here

Can anyone tell me what a Christingle is?


The Christingle was invented by Saint Lucia in Scandanavia to explain symbolically God’s goodness to the world. As this is quite a large crowd, I’m going to scale up my Christingle a little bit, so everyone can see. It features:

• An Orange, which represents the World that God made.
• Four cocktail sticks, representing the four seasons, the four corners of the earth
• … dried fruit, and sweets representing God’s gifts to the world.
• A Red Ribbon tied around the Orange, representing the Blood of Christ
• A Lighted Candle representing Jesus Christ, shining in the world today

Christingles not only signify the goodness of God to us, but also they can be a focus for Christmas.

If you can, replace the sweeties on the Christingle tonight (show pic of bare Christingle) and place it alit on your Christmas table, so as you gather as a family, you can be reminded of the place that Jesus Christ has amongst your festivities.

Say the Grace Prayer in your pack before your meal, and thank God for bringing you together as a family. Inside the bag there is a special grace that you can say together when you have re-lit your Christingle

When you have completed your Christingle, let us gather before the Altar Rail, where we will light them.

The children will sing the first verse of Away in a Manger in the candlelight and then for the next two verses we will all join in.

Light Christingles LIGHTS OUT

Away in a Manager (Number 6)

(in dark, Children first verse, 2nd/3rd verse, all)

1 Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
the stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

2 The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
and stay by my bedside till morning is nigh.

3 Be near me, Lord Jesus: I ask thee to stay
close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven, to live with thee there.

Now, tomorrow is the birthday of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, and all these candles make it look a bit like a birthday cake.

I don’t know if we have 2014 candles here, but we have quite a lot… What song do we sing at someone’s birthday? Why don’t we all sing “Happy Birthday Dear Jesus” to remind ourselves of why we celebrate Christmas – the birthday of the most special man ever in the history of the world!

Happy Birthday to you

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Jesus,
Happy birthday to you!

Blow Candles Out.


May the humility of the shepherds,
the faith of the wise men,
the joy of the angels,
and the peace of the Christ Child,
be God’s gift to us and to all people this Christmas
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the +Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be upon you and remain with you, this night and always.



Go in the light & peace of Christ.
Thanks be to God.


Reading for Christingle Service 1

A reading from the book of a wise man called Isaiah
(small pause)

“Once upon a time, everyone lived in the dark,
but now – we can see!
They used to live in a world that was so full of shadows
But now – we have a light to light up our way!

We have God with us
And he has made us happy
He has sent us a baby
Who is to be our King,
And he will keep everyone safe.

(small pause)
Thanks be to God

Reading for Christingle Service 2

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew:
(small pause)

Joseph lived in the town of Nazareth
But one day he had to go all the way to Bethlehem with Mary
Even though she was going to have a baby.

While they were in Bethlehem,
The Baby was born – it was Mary’s first little boy,
And she dressed him up in baby clothes
And made a bed for him in a stable
Because there was no room left for them at the Inn.

(small pause)
Thanks be to God

Book Review of Frontline Evangelism

I wonder if “not shockingly radical or painfully trendy” will end up in my Church Times obituary; possibly alongside “he did a good wedding”

Amazon Link

frontline evangelism

Book Review Creative Ideas

[caption id=”attachment_5214″ align=”alignleft” width=”262″Church Times, Sept 2014 Church Times, Sept 2014[/caption

Stories to trust

Richard Lamey reads suggested plans for youth-group sessions

Creative Ideas for Frontline Evangelism with Young People by Simon Rundell
Canterbury Press £19.99 (includes CD-ROM) (978-1-84825-276-9)
Church Times Bookshop £18 (Use code CT263 )

SIMON RUNDELL is a parish priest in Plymouth who states (on his wonderfully titled website “parishLife: Me liturgy, you drains”) that his likes include mission, youth work, and espresso coffee, and his dislikes include prejudice and the Anglican Covenant.

His latest book on exploring faith with young people draws together most of his confessed passions, and is practical and worth while. It is made up of 30 fully planned youth-group sessions.

It would be a good resource for those who plan their youth programme many months ahead, and also for those who need to pick up a resource on their way to leading an accessible and yet challenging session for their youth group. It has the most detailed explanation imaginable of how to blow the yolk out of an egg before you paint it. It also has the great virtue of doing simple things really well, and of making the reader think that he or she could do this, while also setting the bar on vision and preparation very high.

The most impressive thing of all is Rundell’s confidence in the treasures found in the Bible. In his Introduction, he writes: “the stories of Christ and the early Church are so alive, so captivating and dynamic that they cannot fail to engage new audiences, hungry for timeless stories and the eternal truths that God reveals through them.”

Rundell argues very strongly, and very convincingly, that secondary-school children have the great advantage of coming to the stories of the Good Samaritan or Jonah or Doubting Thomas without preconceptions, which makes them particularly open to good storytelling, and then to reflecting on the responses that the story evokes from them.

The sessions start with an introduction of the theme, followed by a modern retelling of a Bible story, and then a practical exploration of the theme raised by the story – for example, a craft activity, an act of penitence, a drama, or some baking. Each one ends with a closing thought that drives home the point of the story.

Rundell is not shockingly radical or painfully trendy. His great strengths are his calm confidence in the stories that we have inherited, stories that speak afresh to each generation, and bring people face to face with the living God; and his ability to do simple things extremely well. It is a book to read, use, and be inspired by.

The Revd Richard Lamey is Rector of St Paul’s, Wokingham, with St Nicholas’s, Embrook, and Woosehill Community Church, Berkshire.

I’m glad they used that one – very positive. This was the other one they had on file. I know this because Emma spotted it.

frontline book review

Teaching on Marriage – the Marriage of Barnaby and Bernadette (Bear)

This is the outline of the session for KS1 aged children (Infants Year R,1 & 2)

  • We gather the Children in Church
  • Important things:
    • Many people mark important events in their lives by coming to Church
      • The birth of a baby – baptism
      • The passing of a loved one – funeral
      • The love of one person for another – a marriage
    • It’s more than just a day to dress up pretty and have a party
    • It begins something more important: two people sharing their lives together and making important promises to each other
    • The wedding day enables us to mark this beginning and to pray that the couple enjoy a life-long loving time together
  • Places everyone!
    • Sides of the Church – where the congregation sit
    • Groom and Best Man
    • Bride outside
  • Text:

In the name of the +Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

God is love, and those who live in love live in God
and God lives in them. 1 John 4.16

God of wonder and of joy:
grace comes from you,
and you alone are the source of life and love.
Without you, we cannot please you;
without your love, our deeds are worth nothing.
Send your Holy Spirit,
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
that we may worship you now
with thankful hearts
and serve you always with willing minds;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In the presence of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we have come together
to witness the marriage of Barnaby and Bernadette,
to pray for God’s blessing on them,
to share their joy
and to celebrate their love.

Barnaby and Bernadette are now to enter this way of life.
They will each give their consent to the other
and make solemn vows,
and in token of this they will [each give and receive a ring.
We pray with them that the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen them,
that they may fulfil God’s purposes
for the whole of their earthly life together.

Barnaby will you take Bernadette to be your wife?
Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her,
and, forsaking all others,
be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?

He will probably whisper in the ear of Fr Simon like Sweep used to do

Bernadette, will you take Barnaby to be your husband?
Will you love him, comfort him, honour and protect him,
and, forsaking all others,
be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?

She will probably whisper in the ear of Fr Simon like Sweep used to do

The Priest says to the congregation

Will you, the families and friends of Barnaby and Bernadette,
support and uphold them in their marriage
now and in the years to come?
We will!

These are the promises they make to each other:

I take you,
to be my bear,
to have and to hold
from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death us do part;
according to God’s holy law.
In the presence of God I make this vow.

Heavenly Father, by your blessing
let these rings be to Barnby and Bernadette
a symbol of unending love and faithfulness,
to remind them of the vow and covenant
which they have made this day
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Priest addresses the people

In the presence of God, and before this congregation,
Barnby and Bernadette have given their consent
and made their marriage vows to each other.
They have declared their marriage by the joining of hands
and by the giving and receiving of rings.
I therefore proclaim that they are husband and wife.

The Priest joins their right hands together and says

Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.

The Priest says to the couple

God the Father,
God the Son,
God the Holy Spirit,
bless, preserve and keep you;
the Lord mercifully grant you the riches of his grace,
that you may please him both in body and soul,
and, living together in faith and love,
may receive the blessings of eternal life.

The prayers conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

The Priest says

Barnby and Bernadette,
May God the Holy Trinity make you strong in faith and love,
defend you on every side, and guide you in truth and peace;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the new Mr and Mrs Bear

  • Pictures outside as per tradition

Prezi Repository for Worship

As you know I love Prezi the new and exciting presentation tool that blows Powerpoint out of the water…

However, as much of my work is in school, Youtube is routinely blocked, so I am forced to embed the whole video into my presentation. This makes them considerably larger, and uses up my account faster. I have therefore archived my presentations onto the Agnus Dei website. You can import these pez files into your own (free) Prezi account and use at will.

Download Video Resources   Agnus Dei

Check out http://www.agnusdei.org.uk/download/?txtRootPage=L3d3dy93cF9hZ251c2RlaS92aWRlby9QcmV6aS8= 

Use freely…



Collective Worship: Valentines Day

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Prezi may be accessed here: http://prezi.com/tvabdmf95lb1/collective-worship-valentine/

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

The Lord be with you and also with you

“It must be love..” “Love is all around” “All you need is love” “Love is in the air”

Love, it would seem is the major concern of our lives. Music and Adverts are full of it. It fills our iPods and clogs up our TVs. We can’t seem to get away from it… but What is this thing called love?

Tomorrow/Today is St. Valentine’s Day.

Maybe you are expecting to send a card (or two)

Maybe you are expecting to get at least a card! I some some of the teachers are. I know one at least who’ll be disappointed!

St Valentines Day is the day when sales of cards and flowers and chocolates and teddy bears rocket.

A day to celebrate love. And it is the feast day of this Saint of Love,

…about whom I bet you currently know next to nothing

St. Valentine was a priest in Rome sometime (and to be honest, we don’t know exactly when) in the Third Century AD, so that’s about 1700 years ago…

The Roman Emperor disapproved of marriage, believing that it prevented young men from being excellent soldiers, but St. Valentine disagreed with him, and would secretly marry young men and women to came to him.

He was caught and thrown into gaol, which is where he met the jailer’s daughter, who was blind. They often say that love is blind, and their love flourished. He converted her to the faith, and it is said that his love healed her.

He used to write to her, and always signed his letters “From your Valentine…”

Love is a very complex thing. It isn’t as straightforward a thing as One Direction or Taylor Swift sings about…

Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow: they see there’s a difference between the light flakes of snow that dance in the morning sunshine and the heavy ice that clogs up our roads and needs parents and governors to dig the school out of.

In the same way, there are many different ways to think about love.

Of course the songs we mainly hear about are the soppy kind of love: the “I love you baby” type of love.

But there’s also the love between a parent and a child, so you’d say “I love my Mum or Dad”

Then there’s the love between friends, or between brothers and sisters

And there’s the selfless love that we try to show to our neighbour that Jesus tried to tell us about – the kind of love that doesn’t need chocolates or teddy bears or flowers to be proven – the kind of love that doesn’t have a price tag.

I believe God loves you as a parent loves a child – as one of his own

I believe God loves you with a passion, with intimacy, as a pair of grown-ups love each other

I believe God loves you and celebrates you as you are – as a friend and a brother or sister

I know, and I have experienced, that God loves you, and me, regardless of whether we love him back.

God’s love has, I believe, no strings attached, no conditions.

That’s the most challenging thing about this sort of love – the love that Christians believe Jesus poured out for us on the cross.

It’s not something we asked for, but still God still gives it. God wasn’t required to give us this love, he didn’t have to, but he gives his love anyway: his amazing grace.

It flows as freely as running water, and all we need to do is jump in and be prepared to swim in this amazing love.

This love will never run out, never fade like the flowers, get consumed like the chocolates, get threadbare like the teddies.

This love is for all time, and it is for you. St. Valentine is a symbol both of the love between two grown-ups and the love of God for us.

May you, know, deep down, that you are loved. Amen.

Let us pray…

Lord’s Prayer

Blessing and Dismissal

Gloria to Old MacDonald for the Nursery Rhyme Mass, a better version

From the genius pen of Sue Wallace (@PrecentorSue), shortly to be Precentor of Winchester Cathedral

Where you see a word in red, the congregation can clap or ring a bell, hand chime

Glory be to God on high
On the earth be peace 
Lord and God and heavenly king
Our praises never cease

We praise you YES!
We bless you YES!
We praise you, bless you 
Glory and adore you
Thank you glorious God on high
Lord God Heavenly king. 

God Almighty Father Dear
Jesus Christ God’s son
Like a lamb you take our sin
The wrong things we have done

Hear our prayer YES!
Hear our prayer YES!
Hear us  Hear us.
Have mercy and be near us
For you are the Holy One. 
Father, Spirit, Son.

see http://www.nurseryrhymemass.org.uk/gloria-to-old-macdonald-revised-version/