NATIVITY STORIES From Around New Zealand
The Christmas Story
by Dave Mann
by Dave Mann
This initiative called, “The Night That Changed the World” has been run over the last few years by the Heretaunga Christian Centre which brings the Christmas Story to life. They have set up an interactive experience where people journey back to the manger at Christmas… to the night that changed the world forever.
People wander through the streets of Bethlehem, interacting with wood and leather crafters, potters, bakers, and fishermen. There is also an opportunity to stop and relax beside the town water well, and for dressing up and having a photo taken with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. In addition, children get to and experience the stable animals. From time to time throughout the evening a town crier, and a choir of angels fill the air with messages of peace and hope.
Through this interactive experience people can discover the true meaning of Christmas and how it can impact their lives today. This is achieved as they are immersed in a quality experience, as they chat with event staff, as they hear the message of the gospel through the angel’s songs and the town criers and as they read various descriptions of the stalls, which explain biblical contexts.
This live nativity experience (complete with animals) and traditional craft activities is great for the whole family.
In 2021 the combined churches in Hāwera united to bring the Nativity Hunt to life with 10 local businesses. The idea was brilliant – because everybody won.
1. This idea works! From a ‘business’ sense, shops in rural towns suffer the problem of people taking an hour’s drive to a city near them to do their Christmas shopping. This encourages people to stay in town.
…so the business community loved the idea, as would the local Council. Entry boxes were in three locations – in local shops.
2. The way Christ was represented was wise. The entry form included a direct quote of the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible.
• The entry form included a direct quote of the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible. While wordy at first glance – this kept the story central, and with people reading it exactly as it is in the Bible – without comment.
• This lack of comment is especially notable. This was a wise and gentle approach – to note it, None could be accused of trying to ‘preach’ at people. It’s just the story – in raw form.
3. By presenting this ‘On behalf of the churches’ they gave visibility to the churches as one. The role of the churches is also a support role, helping people value their own community and local shops.
• This idea would still have worked had it been done in the name of just one church – but they chose to share the credit, which presents very well. The Church looks better when it presents together!
• Some costs associated (like for the free-standing core flute prints) were paid from the combined churches account.
We suggest there was wisdom inherent in the way this was approached. If two or three Sunday schools agree to participate, you have enough people to ‘anchor’ it. Then it is only a case of talking with relevant people and promoting.
For more ideas go to Hope Project Christmas
The Shining Lights Trust is a strategic resourcing ministry, serving Christian churches.
It’s purpose is to help resource, encourage and aid the Christian church in the sharing of it’s message of God’s love to a world in need of hope.