This article is from Issue 57 of “On The Move,” a publication of new learning possibilities for churches, at one time published by The Joint Board of Christian Education of Australia and New Zealand.
Although some ideas and liturgies may appear somewhat “dated” in style, concept, imagery or language, they may nevertheless offer a spring-board for new ideas among people who find themselves leading worship, perhaps in a new context, and with some trepidation.
Reproduced by permission. May be reprinted for use in local congregations only.
Halfway through a normal Sunday morning worship service a group of young people enter the church. They are carrying what looks like a huge Christmas gift (a TV or washing-machine carton, gift-wrapped). Attached is a large card which reads: ‘To the church with love’.The young people bring the gift forward during the singing of a hymn and place it on the communion table or in some other central position in the sanctuary. They simply place it there and then move into the congregation and join in singing the hymn.
As soon as the hymn is over the minister begins the following exchange —
Minister: (very sternly) What’s the meaning of this?
Youth: We’ve brought a gift for the church.
Minister: What is it?
Youth: It’s a surprise. We want you to keep it here until Christmas Day.
Minister: Nonsense! We can’t have that cluttering up the front of the church, disturbing people’s worship.
Youth: Oh, please keep it here. We’ve brought it in especially for you.
Minister: We are fully aware that you brought it in. You disturbed our worship and now you’re making a scene. Why couldn’t you leave it outside until after the service? We would have found it later.
Youth: But we wanted everyone to know who sent the gift — or rather, who brought it. We wanted you to know it came from us. It’s for everyone — as a token of our love.
Minister: Well it can’t stay here. It’s most distracting. See how everyone’s looking at it.
Youth: We wanted people to see it. Please let it stay. We thought it would help people to worship as they prepare themselves for Christmas.
Minister: Take it away and stop your nonsense!
Youth: Please, it’s for everyone. Let the congregation decide. (To congregation) Do you mind if the gift stays here? We brought it for you.
The congregation has the opportunity to make an impromptu response.
The youth has the final word —
Youth: ‘The Word was in the world, and though God made the world through him, yet the world did not recognise him. He came to his own country, but his own people did not receive him. Some, however, did receive him and believed in him; so he gave them the right to become God’s children.’ (John 1:10-12)
Close with a short silence and prayer.
If the box does remain in the church you could use it for a ‘Magic Box’ exercise on a subsequent Sunday. Tell people that the gift is whatever they want it to be for the whole congregation. Have them decide in small groups the gift that they think the church most needs at this time. Share what the groups have decided. Then talk about how you can ensure that these gifts will indeed be received.