Christmas video 25: Christmas Starts with a Baby’s Giggle

The constant onslaught of Christmas advertising from October onwards can start to wear a little thin as we enter December. Something inside us knows that however lovely the advert featuring a snowman giving a gift to a unicorn is – or whatever this years iteration is – it’s not really what Christmas is all about.

Instead, here is a concise and creative away of sharing the crux of the Christmas message: two parents, one baby and a whole lot of love.

NORAD will still track Santa, despite the government shutdown

Even though the United States government’s shutdown has forced agencies to run with a skeleton staff, it won’t be affecting a long-running holiday tradition.  The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed that it’ll still be tracking Santa’s journey on Christmas Eve, which it has done so for the last 63 years.

Every year, around 1,500 volunteers take calls and answer emails from kids around the world about the whereabouts of Santa Claus with the help of satellite systems, high-powered radars and jet fighters.

In 2018, NORAD will also be publishing Santa’s location on social media, however, an estimated 140,000 calls are still expected to be made to the hotline, with volunteers taking two-hour shifts to answer enquiries.

NORAD Tracks Santa wouldn’t have started if not for a typo appearing on a newspaper ad back in 1955. The ad was placed on behalf of Sears, purporting to be from Santa himself. The ad read:

“HEY KIDDIES! Call me on my private phone and I will talk to you personally any time day or night”.

The ad published the wrong phone number, which directed to a top-secret CONAD (the predecessor to NORAD) line reserved for reporting a crisis. On duty was Colonel Harry Shoup, who received a call from a child looking for Santa Claus.  Shoup, initially thinking it was a prank, was incensed. But after realising it was indeed from a child, Shoup decided to play along as Santa.  Then, more calls from children came in, thus beginning a long holiday tradition that’s persevered to this day. Even if all in the White House is not well.

Christmas Video 24: Nativity on the Overground

Accompanied by an indie-folk version of ‘In the bleak midwinter’, the traditional tale of the nativity is shown juxtaposed against the urban background of South-East London.

All Saints Peckham, a church in Southeast London, took to the iconic London Overground to stage this fun and experimental video.  Part flashmob, part timelapse, part street theatre, the goal was to retell the Nativity story with London as our backdrop.

Filmed (remarkably) in only one take on a fairly cold Saturday morning.

Christmas Video 22: The Mystery of the New Noisy Neighbour

A brilliant child-friendly way of exploring the nativity through the eyes of a mystery-solving mouse, as he discovers more about the birth of Jesus, finding that Jesus really is Emmanuel, Rescuer and King:

Order the Noisy Neighbour story booklet, download this film for free and get more Christmas resources at the Bible Society website.

Christmas video 21: Mary’s Song

Spoken Truth and the Bible Society have partnered together to tell the story of Mary’s journey to motherhood in a 21st century setting.  Mary’s Song is a spoken word poem and original song – enjoy!

I’ve used it with a couple of groups of non-Christian young people who I work with who really enjoyed exploring the themes from it.  Download the videos or the sheet music for free from here.

Youth Ministry and Church News from around the world

News from around the world of youth ministry and church:

Christmas video 18: Shepherds, Wise Men and baby Jesus spoken word

Miriam Swaffield wrote these spoken word videos about the shepherds, the wise men and baby Jesus. They are brilliant, we’ve used them with our 11-14 year olds who’ve loved them.

Fusion have recorded them and made them available for FREE download here – you might want to use them in your services or youth events you’ve got planned.

Funny things children say at Christmas

The funny things children say at Christmas according to the Daily Mail

What gifts did the three wise men bring?

  • Rebecca, 5, Merchant Taylors: “They brought Jesus gold and myrrh but I would have brought him a nice warm blanket.”
  • William, 7, Merchant Taylors: “I don’t know what presents the wise men brought Jesus but a Lego set would have been better.”
  • Ellie, 5, Broomhill Infants: “The three wise men brought Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh – no real presents. I feel sorry for him.”
  • Ellie, 6, Merchant Taylors: “When he was born three kings brought him gold, coins and a sheep.”

Who was the angel Gabriel?

  • Erin, 6, Broomhill Infants: “The Angel Gabriel is a big white fairy. He helped Mary and Joseph look after the baby – kind of like a doctor.”
  • Jay, 5, Broomhill Infants: “There was also an angel called Gabriel, whose favourite thing was to fly around all day.”
  • Molly, 6, Broomhill Infants: “Angel Gabriel was also there and he has yellow wings and a white costume.”
  • Katherine, 9, from St James’ Church of England Primary School, Weybridge, Surrey: “Gabriel was this herald angel. He was a boy but he’s played by a girl in Christmas plays.”

Why do we celebrate Christmas?

  • Ellyshia, 9, St James’ Primary: “I am not really a Christian. I believe in unicorns and pixies.”
  • Ben, 7, Broad Oak: “We celebrate Christmas because Santa comes and gives us lots and lots of presents.”

Where was Jesus born?

  • Charlie, 4, Broomhill Infants: “He was born in a stable a long way away from here in another country. Bethlehem – it’s in England.”
  • Erin, 6, Broomhill Infants: “Jesus was born in the stable – it had lots of hairs.”

Christmas all-age and youth talks

Here’s some of my favourite Christmas and Christingle talks I have done over the years: