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Tis the Season

Lori Haynes Niles

THE CHRIST CHILD AROUND THE WORLD

Have children divide the work equally in this nontraditional worship that works especially well for larger churches.

Instead of a traditional worship service, have your kids research and set up stations in a gym or fellowship hall to show how baby Jesus is welcomed around the world. Form multi-age groups that'll plan minipresentations according to their selected country and interests. There are many traditions that lend themselves to wonderful displays. For example, a tradition in Malta is to sow wheat on clots of cotton four to six weeks before Christmas and raise it in a dark cupboard. The result is snow-white grass to line baby Jesus' bed.

Let each group choose what to do to best share the religious heritage of the country it selects. If some sing, then give them an area to perform. If some cook, let the congregation sample their food or take home copies of their recipes. This gives every child a chance to shine in the arena each chooses.

To direct each group's endeavors, you may set some standards you want each group to meet, such as the following:

Each group will decorate a 6x6-foot area in the gym that could include a flag of the country selected, a display or picture of the country's representation of baby Jesus, a poster about religious traditions, a costume of religious celebration for a person or doll, a tape or video of the country's Christmas music, sculptures or models, or a cooking project to share (with copies of the recipe for everybody).Each group must prepare to talk about its country as people visit its presentation station.Set up the day before the presentation, and let the children take turns exploring each other's stations. During the presentation, encourage the congregation to roam freely. Then complete the experience by gathering everyone to sing carols the children have chosen.

CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD RESOURCES

Provide research material, such as books from the library, a set of encyclopedias, or downloads from the Internet. Here are great Internet sources:

www.christmas.com/worldviewwww.cvc.org/christmas/index.htm

Lori Niles is the co-author of The Warm and Wonderful Church Nursery (Group Publishing, Inc.).

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