For me Christmas is about Emmanuel, God is with us, in the midst of all we do:
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. (John 1:14 MSG)
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.
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.
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.
Designed for adults and students, this spoken word reminds us that a little over 2,000 years ago, God’s people were in the midst of centuries of silence. But God was at work, and He was about to show Himself in a most unexpected way:
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:
News from around the world of youth ministry and church:
Baby Jesus stolen from St Annes Square nativity scene: Baby Jesus has been stolen from his manger in a town centre nativity scene. Police are investigating but an amnesty was in place and baby Jesus could be returned to any church in the parish with “no questions asked”.