It all started fairly innocently at a friend’s house. A group of us sat round the table having just eaten, children merrily playing in another room.
We were discussing the up and coming Nativity play which I was going to organise.
“I bet you can’t add in a skateboard, a ventriloquist’s dummy and three parsnips.” Challenged one friend.
Then another friend, who is French, decided with typical French flair that I should also add in the line “Vive la France!”
Now both of these “friends” are newcomers to our little group and I don’t know if they quite expected where this would lead. But I took this on as my personal mission.
After many sleepless nights – only joking – I came up with a plan and a script which not only included all the required elements from above but a few extra props, jokes and lines to make all the children happy…
We started with Mary on her laptop updating her Facebook status to “in a relationship with Joseph the Carpenter”.
Then Angel Gabrielle appears (there are never any boys that want to be Angel Gabriel) to tell Mary the good news. Mary sends Joseph a message via Facebook or phone or email.
Joseph is too busy in his workshop making a SKATEBOARD but eventually the message gets through and he skates over to Mary’s side.
Obviously a SKATEBOARD is not big enough to carry the happy/bemused/holy couple so Joseph goes back to the workshop to make something bigger.
They are pulled around the church in a trolley (not a supermarket one – no one had a pound coin to borrow one – that’s a new joke I’ve just thought of, file that away for another year!). The music to accompany their journey is Fleetwood Mac – The Chain, not the singing bit but the instrumental at the end used in the Grand Prix.
Oldest son, who rarely accompanies us to church these days, was coerced into pulling the trolley round with the diminutive Mary and Joseph inside but he refused to wear the donkey ears suggested by youngest son!
When they get to Bethlehem they find an innkeeper who has no room but a garden shed round the back which they gladly accept. In the corner of the shed is the manger where the SKATEBOARD is deposited.
Now out on this cold, dark night are some shepherds – well make that one shepherd and his puppet Nehemiah – it was the nearest we could get to a VENTRILOQUIST’S DUMMY. They are discussing supper – PARSNIP soup AGAIN as that is the only vegetable available.
The angels arrive to share the good news and the shepherd and angels walk round the church to the sound of The Proclaimers singing “I Will Walk 500 Miles”. When they reach the garden shed they give Mary a gift of a PARSNIP.
“Just put in over there in the manger with the SKATEBOARD.” Suggests Mary.
Now I had very little responsibility over the Wise Men scene as youngest son and his friends wrote it…
Our three wise men were, Albert Einstein in a white lab coat, Isaac Newton in a T-shirt saying “Down with Gravity” and Stephen Fry in a shirt, tie and tweed jacket!
Their gifts were a little unconventional too, a Lego Star Wars Death Star, a chocolate cake and almost sticking to the original story they discussed taking Frankincense, they knew it was something that smelled nice so they opted for a bottle of shampoo called VIVE LA FRANCE.
Along with a star, a camel and all the angels who wanted to go round again, they processed, ran and danced round church to “Go West” by the Pet Shop Boys. We have a new vicar and I’d been told they are his favourite band and it seemed fitting for these men from the east.
Once more the gifts were left in the manger to one side.
And that was the first Christmas.
Only we have one little girl who couldn’t decide who she wanted to be this year so at the end she came on carrying a baby doll.
“You’ve missed someone out.” She quietly told me.
Apart from her, I assured her that I had added everything I needed for the perfect Nativity and more besides.
“But you missed out Jesus.”
So we took out the Death Star, the cake and the shampoo. We removed the parsnip and the skateboard. The manger was placed centre stage and the angels busied themselves making a bed for the baby Jesus.
We all get so busy planning the best Christmas ever, getting the right gifts bought and wrapped, all the food, seventeen vegetables to accompany the Christmas turkey, a tree, tinsel co-ordinated baubles and lights. Sometimes we forget what it is all about and how it all started with a baby, so tiny and helpless, yet he was God’s own son.
Without Christ there is no Christmas – I hope you get some time to remember that at this busy time of year.