It’s that time of year when preparing Christmas services comes to an end. Or, if you’re not into planning, starts with increasing levels of panic as the deadlines loom. Finding fresh ways of working familiar themes is always a challenge but also needs care as, for most UK churches, Christmas is a season where many services have visitors who anticipate carols and familiar stories.
So where might we find inspiration?
In recent years I’ve tried to focus on a different gospel each year. It’s given me something particular to focus on, and while most services have a range of readings, means that the talks I do have some interaction with a specific text and that my preparation includes work on Scripture as well as juggling service formats. I may be deluding myself of course but I’d like to think that even in the midst of tinsel, carols and trinkets, as pastors and preachers we are seeking to connect people with the Bible and the importance of the incarnation.
I’ve tended to use a fair number of videos (Worship House Media is a good source and I also like Dan Stevers stuff). As always with video and multimedia, it is worth asking why you are using it and what you are hoping to achieve. I think they often make good introductions to services, particularly where visitors come on time but regulars don't; allowing you to start promptly and then do a formal welcome a few minutes later. They also help create space in services, particularly with visitors and families, to allow for prayerful reflection without being silent.
My favourite of recent years is this by the Skit Guys, who do some good drama things as well. We used some of them in carol services.
But this looks a great option for a service where it might be hard to have a sustained time of prayer. (As do some of the other resources from www.rethinkworship.com
Our Church is collecting money for Boaz Trust (who work with destitute asylum seekers) but this is another good cause.
As well as videos, I have found these two websites have a range of useful resource material and ideas.
Wordsout by Godfrey Rust
I quite like this video, though it doesn't have the dark side which makes the original work so well.
Some years our Christmas programme has also included a 'blue' Christmas event. I blogged about this before here.
If you have any other good resources or ideas please let me know in the comments below.