Messy Church at Almondbury Methodist Church and The Wesley Centre
The Christmas Journey

A few of us responded to the invitation on the Sunday notices in Autumn 2016 to contact Rebecca or Sarah if we were interested in helping with the Christmas Journey during December. Few, if any, knew what it entailed, but there was no need to worry - Rebecca and Sarah had done their homework. People were needed to take part in the story, some to make scenery or props, others were needed for refreshments or craftwork - but very quickly jobs had been allocated to each 'performance', some eleven in total. Some had lines to learn, some had to learn how to manipulate puppets, others had to practise Godly Play techniques.

Space was needed if it was to be done properly, and so after Sunday's service all the chairs were taken out of the church; four gazebos were erected then set out and decorated for some of the scenes. At this stage we had to have a run-through to make sure we all knew what we were doing!

Monday morning came and the year 2 children from our first school arrived - they were welcomed and set off around the various scenes on their journey:
  •   Creation, Godly Play style
  •   Gabriel's visit to Mary in her kitchen
  •   the angels's visit to the shepherds on the hillside
  •   inside the stable with the Baby Jesus, the story told by talking animal puppets
  •   inside the wise men's palace
  •   looking to the future, again Godly Play style
Following this the children made a Christmas card to take home, had a drink and were given a booklet to take home.

Throughout the week children from seven schools visited and there were open performances on Saturday. Some rearrangement of the gazebos took place for the Sunday morning worship so that the church congregation could remain seated but see the whole performance as a group of children from Junior Church went on their journey.

Comments from children, teachers and members of the congregation all endorsed what they had seen and have given those involved the appetite to repeat the journey in December 2017 (11th - 15th); what's more, in March 2018 there is to be the Easter Journey, aimed at year 5 children.

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