for the
Family Service
St. Augustine's

2003 December 14

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 : Five symbols made from Christmas tree lights around the walls.
Furniture :
  • chair in front of altar;
  • manger and two chairs on Hospital side next to the altar;
  • Christmas tree with lights as decoration and a star on top. ( The star is not just decoration; it's mentioned in the service. If you don't have a star on a tree, you'll have to twiddle the words a bit. ) As this left the tree looking rather bare, we also added some "angel Hair" - long thin reflective "golden" strips - and a few small red bells; these were decorations used in a previous year and had no particular significance for this year.
People :
  • Overhead projector person in place;
  • Angel Gabriel hidden behind altar;
  • "Baby Jesus", with mother, hidden behind the Christmas Tree;
  • "Caller" sitting in front pew on Hospital side at side aisle.

CALLER The Caller's only task is to call attention to the several symbols as they are switched on, and to suggest what they symbolise. The symbols are placed all round the church, so most are behind at least some of the congregation.

CANDYSTICK The story of the candystick is probably apocryphal - see, for example, here or here. We were careful always to call it a story. More detail.

CHRISTMAS TREE The tree was by the wall near the usual position of the lectern; the lectern was moved across to the west side of the church, behind the short rail. The tree could be illuminated by a spotlight fixed to a beam approximately above the second row of pews. This light was operated by a switch behind the Christmas tree. The tree was also decorated with a set of Christmas tree lights, which could be operated from the balcony at the back of the church.

the DOOR The door is imaginary.

LAMB A small woolly toy.

LEADS US ... The soloist sang the verses, everyone sang the choruses. There is no particular dramatic reason for this; it did introduce a bit of variety into the singing.

SPOTLIGHTS We have a set of spotlights attached to a beam above the altar rail; these are operated from a switch in the lobby, and are normally set to illuminate the sanctuary ( the area around the altar behind the altar rail ). For this service, one of these spotlights was redirected to the picture of an angel above the altar, and we used an additional spotlight to illuminate the Christmas tree.

STABLE The stable was set by the altar, behind the usual position of the lectern. It comprised two chairs and the manger, made of wood slats to look like a manger on a Christmas card, and filled with straw ( incidentally covered with a sheepskin for the baby to lie on ).

The stable "wall" ran from the end of the altar to the altar rail. There was no physical wall, but while the stable formed part of the action care was taken not to walk through the "wall"; instead, people moving from the main action ( in front of the altar ) to the stable would come out of the central gap in the altar rail and walk back through the gap on the east side, and vice versa where appropriate. This was surprisingly effective. Angels were allowed to ignore the wall.

STORY We don't remember what the story was. It should be something like how an apparently small action can cause a great effect for good.

SWITCH ON This is an instruction to the electrician to switch on the lights for the symbol concerned - see SYMBOLS below.

SYMBOLS The symbols were constructed as frames of no. 8 fencing wire, with sets of Christmas tree lights bound to the wire. They were suspended high enough on the walls to be easily visible, between the windows. Each set of lights was individually controlled from a switch in the balcony, as were the lights on the Christmas tree. ( Ideally all the lights used should have been operated from a single position, but for various reasons this proved to be difficult for the main spotlights and the Christmas tree spotlight. )

The symbols were in the shapes of fir tree, angel, lamb, star, and letter J. Each was labelled with a descriptive caption : respectively : HOPE, PEACE, LOVE, GUIDANCE, LIFE OF JESUS. Here they are - click any picture for a separate version.

Fir tree - Symbol of hope Angel - Symbol of peace Lamb - Symbol of love Star - Symbol of Guidance J - Symbol of the life of Jesus

THIS SONG Mary's song, the Magnificat; Luke 1.46-49. This version is from Mission Praise 479.

WHAT CAN I GIVE HIM ? - from "In the bleak midwinter".