The Toilet Brush Christmas Tree

Just this past week we completed our annual Community carols, a tradition we have had for many years now, which is growing year on year. We bring together several of the local primary school choirs together to perform some Christmas songs to their friends and family, which we chain together with carols, a generally silly Christmas theme and a short talk. This year the theme was Weird Christmas.

Did you know Germany created the first artificial Christmas tree? But, what was it made out of?Toilet Brush Tree

  1. Hedgehogs?
  2. Feathers?
  3. Toilet Brushes?

Now the correct answer is 2), feathers. They dyed goose feathers green and attached them to rudimentary branches. But, answer 3) is also vaguely correct. The Addis company, who made (and still do) toilet brushes employed the same factory equipment to make fake Christmas trees…in fact if you look at many of the artificial trees we have today, you can see the resemblance. And as if to prove the point, Amy our youth worker and I presented out schools with an extremely authentic and hard to find antique toilet brush Christmas tree. I can guarantee you will not find another one of these in the shops!

We also looked at weird facts about Santa (did you know there’s a Santa Winter Games every year in Sweden, and the Chicago Tribune holds an annual “Scared of Santa” photo competition?), Weird Food (did you know KFC has marketed it’s fried chicken as a delicacy to the Japanese, and that in Greenland there is a dish called Kiviak which is made by stuffing 500 auks (cute penguins) into a seal carcass, smothering it all in whale fat and then burying it for 7 months. The aroma and flavour is akin to a strong stilton apparently….)

And then our final round was Christmas injuries. Can you believe 4 people broke their arms last year in cracker pulling incidents, several were injured by out of control Scalectrix cars, and over a 141 (I am sure men) had injuries from not removing the pins from their new shirts….

But Why?

You may ask, what is the point of all of this? I would say, its Christmas! We share the event with primary school children, and for many it is possibly their first experience of church. And if the statistics are to be believed, then a majority of them may not even associate Christmas with the birth of Jesus. So if we can find a way of including them, sharing Christmas traditions and messages with them, and making it as interactive as possible, for them and their families, then at the very least they will leave with a positive impression of us as a church, and also some stories as to why Christmas is Christmas and what we believe.

Both nights were really warmly received, the six choirs (we had three schools each night) did some great singing of a variety of Christmas songs, and we already have the schools booking in for next year…what an endorsement!

Same for Sundays

I apply the same mentality to planning this as I do Sunday services: humour, real life and common experiences will always go a long way to communicating to any audience.

So this Christmas, or next year, I encourage you to think of creative and interesting ways to communicate the Christmas message to all ages. And if you need some help, drop me a line! I have many years of material stored up in my archives!

The Storm Inside

Have you ever experienced an indoor storm? Do you know acquaintances who cause a whirlwind when they walk into a room. Do you have friends who just can’t ever seem to shake the cloud that follows them around…and they make sure everybody knows about it?

This week at EBC we’re starting a new series called Climate Change. Now I know the instant reaction is to think of global warming, changing weather patterns and farting cows. OK, so maybe not gaseous bovine creatures comes straight to mind. While our series is weather based, it’s looking at the climate we bring with us wherever we go. And we all do, whether (or weather?) we realise it or not.

Travis memorably sang “Why does it always rain on me“. I know if I’m in a bit of a fug, I can bring it home, pass it onto my family and drench them all with my cloudy mood. Fortunately I don’t (think?) I do this very often. Similarly, I have friends who will bring a ray of sunshine and happiness into all situations…no matter what. I love spending time with them, and more often than not will gravitate towards them in social situations (as will inevitably everyone else!).

Horrible Bosses

This clip, from the wonderfully dark comedy Horrible Bosses sees Kevin Spacey playing one of the meanest spirited bosses you could ever hope to not meet. He’s been tagging Jason Bateman’s character along for a promotion, getting him to work overtime, weekends, doing far more than he should… and he’s then awarded it to himself…along with a pay rise and a bigger office. And of course, rather than lending a sympathetic ear and being a “listening” manager, he instead berates Jason for calling his grandma “Gam Gam”. Makes you want to throw him out of the window. Or find a big stick.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? Are there people you avoid because of their climate? Or do you have a climate of your own which means you’re the one who is excluded? The thing is, climates, like the weather, are changeable. It doesn’t have to rain all the time (even if you live in wales), just as life isn’t always sunny. But unlike the inclement weather which we experience in the UK, we do have a choice. We can decide if it’s always going to rain on us, whether we can give our in-laws a frosty reception, or choose to cast out a few rays and share some sunshine.

What’s your climate? Do rainclouds follow you? What would it take to share some sunshine?

Dreams Part 3

I thought I’d finish off the “Week of Dreams” as it’s turned out with this short:

Ormie the pig becomes focused on getting the cookie jar from the to of the fridge. Now clearly this isn’t a healthy obsession, either in terms of consuming a whole jar of cookies, or the measures he has to take to reach the jar. But it is funny.

Everyone’s dreams are different, we all have varied goals and desires which we’d like to pursue and achieve. For some they will always be pipe dreams, for others they may become obsessions. But, as I’ve referred to in previous posts, dreams won’t become reality unless you’re prepared to stick at them and work hard at achieving them. And working hard and putting the time in, while a good thing, needs to be balanced with normal life, family and friendships. When dreams border on obsession, there is a shift whereby your focus on the end goal becomes blurred, and all else around you pales into insignificance. Objectivity goes out of the window, life takes a back seat, and before you know it everything around you has fallen apart while you obsess on the solitary goal.

Journey

The journey is as much a part of realising your dreams, in fact I’ve read many times the journey is often more important than the destination. And the thought of reaching your end goal and then turning around to see the carnage you’ve left on the way is not a pretty one. Kind of like when my kids decide to do some baking…great cakes, disaster in the kitchen.

Work Hard, Play Hard is a commonly known phrase which is often used…I’d maybe like to rebalance it as Work Hard, Play Nice, or Work Hard in Moderation, Play Gently…I know they don’t have the same ring, but make more sense to me…

So work hard on your dreams, but make sure that when you do realise them, there is someone left to share them with at the end.

Until next week…