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Home-made nativity set. Photo by Anna Lagos and Holly Jewell.
Home-made nativity set. Photo: Anna Lagos and Holly Jewell

Five nativity no-noes

We all know that you should never work with children or animals, yet the annual nativity play is a cherished tradition in which church communities across Australia re-enact a story precious to our faith. Journey staff present the following tips to ensure that your nativity play is an angelic experience.

1Apocalypse now

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth is caused by lack of planning. Afflictions such as Droopy Wing Syndrome, Beard Peel and Tea Towel Tilt can be avoided through attention to detail. Adequate supplies of safety pins and masking tape (do not pin directly onto heads, torsos or limbs) will ensure that angel wings achieve the correct celestial angle and that costumes remain intact.

2Overfeeding and overwatering

To prevent accidents in the sanctuary, live animals and small children should be fed only after the performance, and then sparingly. Remember that red cordial is not your friend.

3There’s only one star, and it’s over the stable

Keep a long shepherd’s crook close to hand and deal promptly with any internecine conflict or over-acting. Keep a close eye on the wise men and always separate the sheep from the goats.

4Eschatological angst

Everyone wants to be Mary and nobody wants to be Herod. Since the leading characters are fixed, finding enough roles for everyone and allocating parts requires theological flexibility and a keen sense of natural justice. It’s okay to broaden the range of secondary characters and animals but stay away from drummer boys, lobsters and Australian fauna.

5Contemporary creep

Unless you have the resources of the Bell Shakespeare Company, and actors with a memory span of more than 10 words, think hard before you decide to update the classic story. Watching the nativity unfold is a powerful, sacred moment; the wonder and the sorrow of what lies ahead breaks our hearts, yet we join with Christians around the world to proclaim the message that love still comes down at Christmas, every year. It’s okay the way it is, honest.

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