Hosts of angels, numerous crib scenes and a wonderful start to the parish family Christmas.
In recent years, the name of Holy Ghost church Exmouth has become synonymous with creative family worship during Advent and the Christmas season – this year never more so.
Inspired by a Parish visit to Greccio to see the permanent Nativities displayed there, the call went out from Father Phillip to all members of the parish to spend Advent creating their own crib scene to be displayed in church over Christmas week. The only guidelines given were that the Crib should be no bigger than a shoe box. The resulting creations were assembled at church on Sunday 21st December and were a delight to behold.
There were Lego crib scenes, knitted Nativities, a crocheted Nativity displayed inside a lantern complete with glowing light and a very moving miniature cardboard box with baby Jesus inside and a small sign reading ‘Homeless, any kindness appreciated’ – to mention but a few. The cribs were the centre of much discussion amongst the gathered congregation at all masses over the Christmas period and encouraged many to linger a while in church to discover and appreciate each one. A diverse range of parishioners took part in building these cribs from the youngest members at Rainbow Nursery, to social groups within the church and elderly members of the parish.
In addition to this lovely start to Christmas Week, preparations took place on Monday 22nd December to decorate the Church for Christmas with the children’s annual Advent Art attack. This year the group of 35 children created larger than life angels and smaller ribbon wreaths which were then festooned around the church.
The annual Christmas Eve crib service for children is the opportunity for the children to bring the Nativity story to life. Facilitated by Children’s Liturgists Amanda Turner and Emma Richardson the children were all encouraged to dress as their own favourite Nativity character which meant there was a congregation containing stars, soldiers, Marys, Josephs, and as always a host of Angels! As Amanda and Emma told the story, the children were invited up to share what they knew and to act out each part.
In an ambitious addition to the usual order of service, Amanda led the assembled families in an impromptu ‘flash mob’, encouraging everyone to join in with a little dance to the tune of ‘Dude where’s your Donkey’ from the film Nativity 3. Possibly the first time there has ever been a flash mob inside a church – Guinness World Records are yet to confirm…
Throughout the course of the 45 minute service, we danced, we sang, we prayed and we contemplated what it all meant. Surrounded by so many lovely interpretations of the crib scene, it was impossible to leave without truly appreciating the real meaning of Christmas. How lovely to have experienced so many different ways to praise together, keeping the Spirit very much alive in Holy Ghost’s Centenary year.
— Emma Richardson