...and the Littlest Star
Readers of this blog who preach will appreciate the particular challenges associated with the last Sunday before Christmas. The traditional carols by candlelight service is a formulaic creature – certain songs must be sung, certain readings must be read, and a particular story must be told. The challenge when telling that story is to find an approach which is neither so straightforward as to be boring, nor so innovative as to be distracting. The faithful want to hear the story again, and the Christmas visitors may want to know why they should take it seriously. Throughout last week I struggled to find my ‘angle’ on the story for this year. In the end, it struck me that the story of collaborative creativity and shared ‘ownership’ which is Littlest Star was precisely what I was looking for. In many ways the tweets below sumarise its lightning journey from concept to print and sale in 23 days:
During the course of those 23 days, one of the many remarkable things which happened is that a little story in my head ceased to be my story, and became instead the story of those who brought it to birth. It became the story of James and Annette and Libby and Chris and Diana and a host of others who were involved in bringing it out. When God ‘wrote the story’ of the world’s rescue, he involved others in it – from a frightened teenage girl and an overstressed publican to a group of shepherds and a posse of mystics from the wrong side of the religious tracks. God’s story became theirs, and in doing so it invaded the hearts of the human race
I finished last night’s sermon by setting out my long-awaited Oliver Farbel nativity set, pictured below. The artist himself describes it as ‘a crib ensemble for the secularized mystic or wavering agnostic of our day’, but I am not so sure. Surely it is a crib scene for all of us? The characters are devoid of all race, age, ethnicity or adornment. Any of them could be any of us, and so the story becomes our story
After the service was over, somebody commented that this nativity set looked like ‘Bible Jenga‘. If that means that it brought some presuppositions tumbling down, then I’m all for it!