for the
Family Service
St. Augustine's

2003 October 26

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 : Phrenologist's banner, by the wall where it will be needed, ready for erection.

The "symbols" to be carried up to the altar during the service, laid out in order ready for collection. Ours were on a table at the back of the church. The list of "symbols", in order, is :

  • cross;
  • wine;
  • bread;
  • water;
  • oil;
  • Bible;
  • fruit;
  • candlesticks.

The "blessings" to be carried up to the altar during the service, laid out in order ready for collection. Ours were on the table with the symbols. Each is accompanied by a set of cards carrying an appropriate Bible verse, with an illustration. The list of "blessings", in order, is :

  • lamp;
  • heart;
  • crucifix;
  • burden;
  • red cross;
  • hot-water bottle;
  • poster;
  • picture;
  • provision basket;
  • vase, and seed;
  • owl;
  • "sparklers";
  • dove.
Furniture : The ALTAR is clear.

The LECTERN is placed on the organ side.

TABLE : A long table, placed by the altar on the congregation side, forming a T with the altar as crossbar.

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

Phrenologist's BANNER Our banner was painted on paper and attached to a light ( bamboo ) frame which could swing out from the wall when required, and was inconspicuous when not in use.

BLESSINGS. The objects used are listed in the script. These are placed on the table in front of the altar, and complement the symbols already on the altar. See the instructions for preparing the table for further details.

CARRIERS. The carriers carry the blessings and Bible verse cut-outs from the table at the back to the altar. There will be some minimum number of carriers, depending on the geography of your building, necessary to keep the stream of items going steadily without waits, but there's no reason why they can't go round again for another turn if that's useful.

CONSULTATION. The consultation is a flashback. For the duration, we imagine the area by the left wall to be the phrenologist's consulting room. It contains a chair, and a banner reading "PHRENOLOGIST" is temporarily displayed above. There is a notional, but invisible, door between the previous actors and the consulting room.

DOOR The invisible door is a joke, which works well provided that the business of knocking on the door, opening it, closing it, shaking hands etc. emphasises its "existence". It must be sufficiently convincing that the congregation recognise what's happened when Freda bumps into the door on her way out.

FREDA. - or Fred. It doesn't matter ( though the vowel sound of "Freda" fits in better with the abbreviation to "Free" ). Make corresponding changes elsewhere if you change the gender.

FREE STUFF. It obviously doesn't matter much what articles you choose - an amusing combination is good. Look for topical items, local conditions, etc. The list of places should be as widespread as possible while staying within what's regarded as the local area.

INORGANIC RUBBISH Every now and then, local councils in New Zealand proclaim an "inorganic rubbish" day. On such a day, people pull out bits of rubbish too big to fit in the weekly bag collection, up to bed size or so, and leave it at the side of the road. Typically, it stays there for a few days before the collection. That gives a day or two during which people in search of old furniture, electronics, utensils, tools, wood, etc., can inspect other people's cast-offs, and by custom can take it away if they so wish. And they do.

MILFORD - Onehunga, Mission Bay, Waitakere are all Auckland suburbs. Replace them with local places known to your congregation. The examples of free offers listed were imaginary, though plausible; no one complained.

PICTURE We don't remember what the picture was. Presumably it was something depicting goodness and mercy.

PREPARING THE TABLE. The objects - symbols and blessings - used are listed in the script. These are carried up to the altar.

It is convenient to lay them out on a table at the back of the church in order of use so that those carrying them don't have to spend time searching. ( It all happens faster than you expect. ) It is also useful to have on the table a sketch of where they are to be put on the altar.

Those taking the symbols - and, later, the "blessings" - up to the altar should synchronise their performance with the narrator's words, display them clearly to the congregation, then place them on the altar or table as directed.

PSALM. The Psalm is Psalm 23 sung responsorially - the cantor sings most of the words as a solo, with the people joining in with the refrain where shown. Before starting, the cantor teaches the refrain to the people. We seem to have lost the details of the music.

SEED. We used a packet of wheat grains.

SOUND EFFECTS. These need not be too realistic; they add a little amusement to the action. Ours were produced with the help of a largish plank of wood representing the "door". Details :
  1. Knocking : sharply tap the "door" with a smaller block of wood. To aid synchronisation, the knocker should knock fairly slowly and deliberately.
  2. Bumping into the door : hold the "door" just above the floor, and slap it with something fairly soft - we used a rubber mat - so that it makes a slapping noise and also hits the floor.
  3. Slam : Hit the "door" with the smaller block slightly obliquely, so that there are two impacts close together.
Our effects came from the balcony at the back of the church; no one seemed dismayed by the inappropriate direction.

SPARKLERS Short ( 20cm ) wooden sticks with several shiny brightly coloured strips attached to one end; they give a festive impression when waved. ( We've used them before. )

SYMBOLS Each symbol represents a gift which God makes available for us. They are placed on the table in front of the altar. See the instructions for preparing the table for further details.

TABLE. A long table, by the altar on the congregation side, forming a T with the altar as crossbar. The "banquet" is set out on the altar and the table.

VERSES FOR BLESSINGS. The verses were provided for collection later in the service, printed on thin card. Each was accompanied by an appropriate picture, as shown below; click on any picture for the corresponding .jpg file.
God's Word a lamp
His only Son a heart
Blood of Christ a Crucifix
Rest person stooped carrying burden
Healing a red cross
Comfort someone comforting someone weeping
Safety sleeping safely
Goodness and mercy two people embracing
Food a basket of provisions
A full measure a vase
Wisdom an owl
Joy a rejoicing person
Peace a model dove