“Once in Royal David’s city, stood a lowly cattle shed…”
Forget those pristine figures, gathered round the manger favoured by Christmas card manufacturers.
Don’t think about an idyllic setting, featuring cloudless, starry skies.
Ignore perfect, picture-postcard nativity scenes, churned out each Christmas.
Yes! You read that correctly!
Rev. Naomi and her potty-mothed companion, Shaun the Sheep, delivered a ‘poo-tiful’ Crib service on Christmas Eve. There was a LOT of poo, including a ‘crown’ of poo, gracing Rev. Naomi’s head, which caused much amusement.
The conversation which ensued, between Shaun and master puppeteer, Rev. Naomi, returned to the subject of poo, over and over again, much to the giddy delight of the excited youngsters, gathered in the packed church. It was hardly a conventional topic for polite company! Children of all ages, sporting sequinned Christmas jumpers, sparkly headbands and clutching neon glow sticks, clearly loved the banter between the two, narrating the real-life Nativity story, a story of unplanned, unpredictable events, set in a dirty, messy place with a sense of chaos about it. A far cry from the more traditional and saccharine sweet images we are used to.
Think about the messy circumstances of Jesus’ birth. Reflect on the harsh reality of being born in a cattle shed. Consider the undesirable characters who turned up without an invitation to see the new-born. All of this = REAL LIFE. A life which can be chaotic, messy, and make us feel in a state of being not ready.
Each snippet of conversation, was followed by community singing of carols. All age groups joined in most enthusiastically and glow sticks were waved like little batons of light.
Rev. Naomi invited the little ones to gather round the crib and fill it with the familiar figures. This task was carried out with great gusto, and little finesse! The normally organised, perfectly placed characters found themselves in chaotic heaps – strangely reminiscent of real-life events currently afflicting the Holy Land. The crib was blessed and prayers offered, using the glow sticks as a means to focus attention on how the light of Jesus can be found in the deepest, darkest and most uninviting places where we sometimes find ourselves.
Jesus comes to us in the messiness of our lives; he can be found in the chaos; he meets us in whatever state we are in and wherever we may be.
Of course, no birthday celebration would be complete without a cake! The little ones loved singing ‘happy birthday’ as the candle was lit. Pieces of cake and crackers were shared as everyone made their way home, ready for more Christmas Eve chaos!
The ‘poo-tilicious’ crib service was over, but the message was not forgotten.
The Advent journey is over.