“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…”

 As darkness fell on Christmas Eve, huge excitement and anticipation filled St. James’ Church Stalmine, at the start of the ever popular Crib Service.  It was clearly going to be a fun-filled occasion for both the young and the not-so-young, judging by the vast array of neon glow sticks, sparkly reindeer headbands, quirky Christmas jumpers and, a rather special birthday cake!

The crib was blessed by Reverend Dyllis Dickinson, and the service revolved around the word ‘CHRISTMAS’, with each letter being used to engage the excited youngsters in dialogue, songs and actions.  A rather cheeky puppet and enthusiastic audience participation added to the joyful proceedings.  As the Nativity story unfolded, the children were invited to bring forward the crib figures to place in the lowly cattle shed.

“All the angels sing

That Christ has come

To a manger bare

Mary laid Him there

Come on fill the sky

With shouts of praise

Lift your voice with me

And sing sing sing sing sing.

(The Angels Sing)

It was absolutely delightful to see all the little ones gathered in front of the crib, waving their glow sticks in the shadowy light, singing ‘Away in a Manger’. This was followed by the lighting of the candle on Jesus’ birthday cake and singing the familiar ‘Happy Birthday’ song!

The highlight of the service came when the young, the elderly and all those in-between took to their feet, waved their glow sticks or mobile torches in the air and sang and swayed along to ‘The Christ in Christmas Time’ (Paul Field):

Hurrying along

Buying things and making plans

It’s such a crazy season

Such a busy time

It’s easy to forget how it began.

You’ve chosen all the presents

Written all the cards

Hung the lights around the Christmas tree

With all the celebrating

It’s easy to lose sight

Of the star that’s shining down for you and me…

If all that wasn’t exciting enough, the children then formed a conga, snaking round the church swaying to the song, ‘Hallelujah’ (Mark and
Helen Johnson). It was a memorable sight!

At the end of the service, in true St. James’ style, the cake was swiftly cut, wrapped up and shared with everyone who attended; a piece of the joyful celebration, to be taken home and enjoyed!

The Advent journey is over…