During the weekend prior to Christmas this last year Emmanuel held a very successful Crib Festival. During the three days many people came to visit the Exhibition of nativity sets borrowed from members, Circuit friends and models made by local schools. On the Thursday prior to the 'open' weekend the Exhibition was open to the local schools, and Summer Lane Primary school brought its whole school to share in an act of Christmas worship before enjoying visiting the displays. Each class in the school had contributed a different scene – from collages to a very memorable Andy Warhol style version of the Christmas scene. St Mary's Primary year 6 class had created an item entitled 'If Jesus was born in Barnsley today – 2012' with the backdrop being the Premier Inn and the wise men arriving in a black limousine! Wilthorpe Junior School class 4 & 5 had invited each child to create an individual representation of the stable scene – and there were some really creative contributions.
On the Friday afternoon we hosted a Community Carol Sing with a good number of local people joining us for a sing through many favourite carols. With a steady flow of visitors throughout the weekend, many people were amazed at the many different representations of the first Christmas available to see. Nativity sets made from pegs, lego and playdough – plus sets travelling from the Holy Land, Poland, Africa and beyond. It was interesting to see how different cultures represent the coming of Jesus into our world 2000 years ago.
Outside the Church there was a piece of participative art created by the art department of Horizon Community College. Students and teachers together had created a backdrop where people could then put themselves in the picture to make Christmas relevant to their lives. Art teacher Dominic McCall had inspired a Barnsley based backdrop with students painting a modern Mary & Joseph pushing a pram, past a bus shelter (based on the one outside the College!) with visitors including a postman and a small boy with a dog.
In all it was a great weekend, and many people were surprised and delighted by all that was on show. Someone said, "I thought I was going to be under-whelmed by the Exhibition, but actually I came away overwhelmed by such a feast for the eyes!" Such is our God – overwhelming in being Emmanuel – God with us now and for always.