Things needed: Stable (or local B&B), candles, torches.
During advent last year we held one of our evening services in a stable. I was so unbelievably excited about this service from the time the idea popped into my head, until…well I’m still pretty excitable about it, and already looking forward to next year’s one. But despite this fact, I managed to tame my extrovert tendencies and not tell the whole world about it before the event. So it was all a bit of a surprise for everyone.
This is how the service ran:
– Everyone arrived at the church knowing only that we might be going outside for a bit, so they should wear warm clothing. I asked them all to write down on a piece of paper their answer to the question ‘What signifies Christmas for you?’ (If I had had the resources I would have got them to write this on a stone).
– We then walked to a local B&B (owned by a member of our church) which had a stable out the back. I had put some fairy lights up beforehand and made a couple of benches with hay bails and wooden planks. I had also placed a candle in the center on a table.
– As people arrived they all received a candle and a service sheet. The service was then fairly reflective and contained liturgy, carols, a poem, and some readings (if you would like a copy of the service sheet let me know).
– At the end of the service people were invited to respond to the message by making sure Jesus was the significant thing for them this Christmas (said in a less cheesy way than that!). If they wanted to, they could place the piece of paper (from the beginning of the service) around the central candle.
– We then enjoyed some hot spiced apple (Mulled wine spice with Capella apple juice) and mince pies.
If you don’t happen to have a stable near your church, you could always ask around at local B&B’s to see if you could go there and have a service out the back somewhere because there’s no room for you to have it in the inn…