for the
Family Service
St. Augustine's

2002 December 8

These are notes and comments on some of the items which appear in the Family Service script. Links from the script point to these entries; clicking the links in the left hand column of the table takes you back to the corresponding link in the script - or, where more than one link from the script points to the note, back to the first such link.

The comments are typically related to features of the service which are specific to our church or the time of the service, or which for some other reason we think might require alteration for another setting.

For references to the internal geography of the church, it might be helpful to inspect the plan.

Properties : Tree set up ready to work;

Lights, power switched on, individual sets switched off;

Two Dolls ( one baby,one toddler ) on left hand side near palm plant, by the manger;

symbols on table next to altar;

torch candles on altar;

taper on altar;

four tapers at front;

collection bags ready;

"New people" card in lectern book.

Furniture : Manger and two chairs on left hand side near palm plant;

Lectern and microphone at organ side.

People : Overhead projector operator, please be in place before the service starts;

Tree operator in position;

Angels hidden behind altar, including Angel of the Lord and at least one adult.

GENERAL NOTE : Actors wore costumes for the Nativity part of the service. After the Nativity part of the service all the actors come to the front and sit down.

As each section takes place, those nominated to be in it stand up and do their parts then proceed with their torches to light their lights and then wait at the back.

During the singing of "Te Harinui" all actors come to the front again and as each section takes place, they do their bit and once more end up at the back.

It worked fairly well, but sometimes the front was rather crowded !!

HOWEVER the response of the Congregation : "'Don't let the light of Jesus grow dim, pass it on, is the cry !" was very effective.

St AUGUSTINE. We chose St Augustine only because he's our patron saint. Perhaps you have a favourite saint or other Christian figure who has some story of missionary activity which you could use instead.

BROADCASTING. The services listed are Christian broadcasting ministries active in New Zealand. Substitutions are obviously appropriate for other environments.

CHRISTMAS "TREE". The folding "tree" was perhaps the main spectacle of the service. It is painted on fabric, and was drawn upwards step by step throughout the service to its very considerable full height.

The tree is lifted by the tree operator, who is concealed from view behind furniture ( or anything convenient ).

DOLLS Dolls representing Jesus as a new-born baby and Jesus as a toddler were hidden by the manger, in such a way that Mary could pick them up unobtrusively at the right points in the service.

JAIL Jail can be anywhere currently not in use; ours was an area at the hospital side of the church at the front.

JOIN IN The congregation can join in because the whole script is displayed on a screen as the service proceeds.

JOY MINISTRIES. Joy Ministries is a Christian organisation serving people with intellectual disabilities. At that time, they were meeting monthly in St Augustine's, and were invited to the service.

LIGHTS. Sets of Christmas tree lights were arranged round the walls of the church, one for each of symbols on the tree. ( We made no attempt to make the lights "look like" their corresponding symbols; each set was simply and - we hope - tastefully spread around an area of the church wall. ) All were initially switched off, but after each symbol was placed on the tree the corresponding set of lights was switched on using a switch provided near the symbol. At the end of the service, the sides and back of the church were all illuminated.

This looked very impressive, but it took rather a lot of wiring to arrange. You need an enthusiastic electrician.

MIMER. Not a new cast member - designate one of the actors to do the job.

PLACES. Various places ( such as France, England ) are mentioned in the St. Augustine section. These weren't marked in any way; pick convenient points to use. The important thing isn't the place-name, but the journey, and that's clearly shown by the movements of the people.

RETURN TO THE FRONT. That was necessary because we didn't have enough actors - so some actors took more than one part. If you have more actors, you might not need it.

SYMBOLS. Several symbols suggesting various stages in the spread of the Gospel from Bethlehem at the nativity to here and now were placed on our TREE during the service. These were made of card or flat polystyrene and attached to the fabric of the tree using Velcro strips. Each was appropriate to the person it was representing.

... THROUGH THE WORLD. We have, for obvious reasons, chosen a sequence of steps which lead from the nativity scene to New Zealand. It is perhaps oversimplified, but essentially factual. For a production elsewhere, a new set of steps, with appropriate scripts, would probably be necessary. ( You're welcome to use the New Zealand script if you wish, of course ! )

TAPERS. The tapers are used to pass on the light.

TORCH CANDLES. The torch candles look like candles but are electric lights. We use them where safety is a particular issue - for example, where candles are carried by children. Real candles could be used if it were considered safe enough.

We had a few torch candles, normally kept on the altar. They are used here at each addition of a symbol to the tree; we tried to make a little procession as the torch candle was carried from the altar to light the lights and to the back of the church.

We didn't have enough torch candles to use a different candle in each case, so they were returned to the altar after use. The script includes instructions covering this operation, but the fewer return trips, the better; interpret the instructions to minimise the potential disturbance to the service.