Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent: 8 Ways of Telling The Story

Dear Christians, no one has taken Christmas away from us but ourselves.  Advent is a time when we’re invited to travel back into the story, so maybe this advent season, we can use some family time in creative ways to tell and retell the story of God’s entry into time and space in the person of Jesus, son of Mary and Joseph and God.

1. Read the story aloud – from the Bible – specifically from Matthew 1.18-3.23 (you can stop wherever you like, but including the death of the children at the hands of Herod is part of the story) or Luke 2.1-21 – over and over again.  You might read it every night as a bed-time story.  Repetition is how children learn and they don’t mind it.  Even if you’ve no children in your home, reading and rereading the story ingrains it into your very being – you might think of it as an act of prayer.

2. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Charlie Brown, at a moment of despair, wonders what Christmas is all about and Linus takes center stage and tells it – stars and wise people and Mary and Joseph and shepherds and baby Jesus and all.

3. While you’re driving in the car to the mall or work or wherever the car is taking you, tell the story from your own memory out loud.

4. Whenever you watch a Christmas movie, think about and say out loud (doesn’t matter if you’re by yourself or in a room full of family, story-telling is always done out loud) how this story (doesn’t matter if it’s A Wonderful Life, The Christmas Story – you know, the one about Ralphie and his BB gun, or the latest Hallmark romantic incarnation) how this story ties in to the story . . . the family in the car can tie to Mary and Joseph journeying to Bethlehem. . . buying presents to the magi . . . and there’s always a star somewhere.

5. Tell the story with finger puppets.  Don’t have any?  Make little faces on your fingers with markers or pens and tell away.

6. If you have a nativity, tell the story as you put the pieces out.  You might try putting the wise men and camels in different places, moving them closer to the creche every day and keeping the baby Jesus out of the manger until Christmas morning.

7. Retell the story as if you and your family are the characters.  Who would each of you be?  You can change that up, so that one night you’re Mary and the next a shepherd and the next King Herod – or you can stay the same person.  Entering the story opens eyes and hearts to new understandings.

8. Sing the story.  Pick a favorite Christmas carol everyone knows the tune to and just sing the story – don’t worry about how it sounds or whether the words rhyme or not – just sing away.

It matters whether we know the story or not.  Shouldn’t we devote at least as much time in the story as we do in the mall?  Just a thought.

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