Enabling all ages to grow in faith

The story of the big surprise

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Will you be telling the Christmas story at an all-age service this December? This idea offers a simple way to involve everyone in the story as you tell it.

Advent candles

On your marks

Christmas was God’s big surprise. Even though there had been tantalising clues all throughout the Old Testament, no one really expected the miracle of ‘God-with-us’ in the form of a helpless baby. The Christmas story is about God’s surprising gift to us: a gift that not only transforms the way we think about ourselves and our future, but also one that gives us a surprising insight into the very nature of the love of God for us.

Get set

No special props are need, but there is a suggested sound effect which occurs several times – namely, a sharp intake of breath and the phrase ‘It was a big surprise’. Before you start, you might like to rehearse this.

Go!

This retelling of the Christmas story can involve the whole church contributing sound effects and actions.

Story: Long ago the people of God were waiting…

Action: Looking at watches and looking around

Story: Waiting for God to come and rescue them

Action: Shading eyes with hands and looking to the skies

Story: But their country was occupied by Roman soldiers

Action: Marching on the spot

Story: And they wanted to be free

Action: Both hands in the air, longing for freedom

Story: But then the angel Gabriel came

Sound effect: Sharp intake of breath and ‘It was a big surprise’

Story: To an old man called Zechariah in the Temple

Action: Pretend to be walking with a walking stick

Story: The angel Gabriel said: ‘You and Elizabeth shall have a baby’

Sound effect: Sharp intake of breath and ‘It was a big surprise’

Story: ‘His name will be John and he will prepare the way for the King’

Action/words: Punching the air and cheers all around

Story: But Zechariah didn’t believe the angel and was from then on lost for words

Action/words: Hands raised in despair and mumbling sounds through closed lips

Story: Six months later the angel Gabriel appeared again

Sound effect: Sharp intake of breath and ‘It was a big surprise’

Story: To Mary in the village of Nazareth

Action/words: Puzzled looks and cries of ‘Where?’

Story: ‘You shall have a baby, who will be the King’

Sound effect: Sharp intake of breath and ‘It was a big surprise’

Story: ‘His name will be Jesus.’ Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and… Elizabeth’s baby jumped inside her when Mary arrived

Sound effect: Sharp intake of breath and ‘It was a big surprise’

Story: Elizabeth had her baby and he was called John… and Zechariah now sang a song of praise to God

Action/words: Mime singing enthusiastically while also shouting ‘Hallelujah’

Story: John would prepare the way for Jesus. Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem

Sound effects: Clip-clop of a donkey’s hooves

Story: They had to travel, even though Mary was about to have a baby… The town was busy and the hotels were fully booked

Actions/words: Shaking of heads and chorus of ‘No room at the inn’

Story: They had to sleep in a cattle shed

Sound effects: Animal sounds

Story: And then the angel Gabriel came

Sound effect: Sharp intake of breath and ‘It was a big surprise’

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