Resourcing the church

Playmobil Advent – Day One

In seeking to establish a family Christmas tradition, this year my wife and I purchased a few Christmas and Nativity scene kits from Playmobil. Every day from now until Christmas Eve we will reveal more pieces and characters for our scene, tell a little bit more of the Christmas story, read a short passage of scripture, sing a Christmas Carol, and maybe enjoy a treat or two. I share this as a resource to other parents, and as a fun way of connecting.

Today’s character is from Playmobil kit #4887 and can be viewed/ordered here.

“Hello, my name is Nick. Some people call me St. Nicholas. Some people call me Father Christmas. In many languages, there are different names and stories about who I am. But a long time ago, before there were candy canes, or reindeer pulling a sleigh, or elves making gifts, there was a simple priest who gave gifts of toys or money to poor children and their families. I wear a preist’s hat and I carry a shepherd’s staff to show that I was a church leader and so I gave these gifts as a sign of my love for God. I also carry this Bible as a sign that I would tell people the story of Jesus.

So, everyday, as we get closer to Christmas, I will tell you the story of when Jesus was born and what that means to us.”

Today’s scripture reading is from the book of Isaiah, from a time when the people of God were waiting for their prayers to be answered, that God would send someone to rescue them.

Day 1Isaiah 40: 1-5 (TNIV)

1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Resourcing the church

Maundy Thursday labyrinth

Every year our church hosts a Maundy Thursday service.  I have been given the grace from my congregation that I can try new things, as long as I stick within the holy week theme.  One year we had a kind of foot-washing service   Last year we had informal stations of the cross where I used the various senses to recreate in people’s minds, Jesus’ last days (ie. jingling coins to simulate the 30 pieces of silver, pita and olive oil to call to memory the last supper, etc.).  This year, as part of our (re)discovering spiritual practices, I decided to use a prayer labyrinth.

Our sanctuary is a multi-use auditorium, so I thought I might move the chairs out of the way and temporarily draw, paint, or tape a traditional labyrinth pattern on the floor.  Then it struck me that it might be easier to construct the labyrinth out of our movable chairs.  I played with a few designs.  It seemed to me that it would lose a sense of purpose without a visual symbol, so I put a cross at the middle, and built it from there.  There wasn’t room to do much else, so it was a fairly simple design.


Generally we have 2 sections of 9 rows of chairs for a total of 162 chairs.  This design calls for 178 chairs, so we had to bring out of storage.  The chairs that made up the cross were covered with banners and tablecloths (otherwise most people would miss the imagery), but other devices (ie. other coloured chairs) could accomplish that separation just as well.

I didn’t ancitipate any more than 30 people would attend, so turned the chairs in the last/bottom row toward the back and then added another row of 15 chairs so there was a place for everyone to sit without disturbing the maze setup.

Ideally, in a prayer labyrinth, people can go their own speed and reflect on whatever God puts on their heart, but in a worship service with a group of people, many of whom would prefer to get home before the sun completely sets, I felt I needed to add a little structure.  I composed a series of writings for each of eight stations within the maze.  The PDF is available here.  I simply used a scriputre passage from the Luke account of the Holy week narrative and asked people to reflect on their own journeys.

This meant that people walked through quite slowly which meant a lot of reflecting/waiting patiently and a lot of background music for the pianist.  This was a new experience for everyone, and all the comments I heard were positive.

If anyone has questions about the details, I would be happy to respond in the comment section.