I wrote the Christmas Participation Story over 20 years ago. When I was a student at The Presbyterian School of Christian Education, one of my textbooks was A Guide to Recreation, by Glenn Bannerman and Robert Fakkema. One of the activities in that book was a participation story with a “cowboy setting.” It was a popular activity but written in a period where inclusive language and political correctness had yet to develop. I really enjoyed the format, however and began to write similar stories based on biblical texts. I paraphrased the text into a storytelling format in which I repeated words and phrases throughout and assigned groups to respond with certain words, actions, inflections, volume etc.
During my supervised ministry at Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, I was given the assignment of creating an intergenerational worship service for Christmas morning since it fell on a Sunday. I assumed that the crowd would be small and wanted the service to be fun but truly worshipful. I had written several monologues for children and youth to share as the meditation. I wanted a call to worship that would be engaging and set the tone for the service. I decided that a participation story would create a festive and participatory mood. Then I adapted the story and used it to call everyone to participate in our service.
I believe that I even instructed the congregation, beforehand, to bring bells of any kind to the service. Anytime the word “angel” appeared in the service, the congregation was instructed to ring the bells for a few seconds. People brought every kind of bell imaginable: cowbells, jingle bells, a Christmas Bell filled horse collar, dinner bells and bells used in the worship of other religions collected on trips around the world. The participation in the story was very enthusiastic and I received many comments and thanks about how much people enjoyed the experience and that it created a great sense of joy. I am happy that so many people have enjoyed it and used it.
Christmas Participation Story File- Osborne Christmas Participation Story-2
Paul Osborne is in the process of developing his own website to share the many creative pieces that he has written over the years for church use. When that site is available, I’ll add the url to this post. –KLD