Lined up for Harvest
Even when your seating is traditionally arranged - or being the guest preacher at another church, there are ways of introducing a flexible feel to the 'holiday' services. Sunday's Harvest Festival at Hethersett was such an example. The uniformed organisations attached to the church had been invited along so there was to be a mix of traditional expectations and some children and parents for whom church was a new experience.
The service was around Psalm 23
Step One: Pick 3 easy to pick up traditional hymns - I went with For the Fruits of His Creation, Townend's The Lord's My Shepherd and We Plough for a strong finish.
Step Two: Choose some fun songs - we included the Green Green Grass of Home; Colin Buchanan's Jesus Hokey Pokey and Doo Baa baa
Step Three: Choose a modern worship song to show people that we aren't just about hymns written when Queen Victoria was a small child... I chose Leeland's Waymaker as it would be a perfect point for refection during the prayers.
Make it interactive
This is not the time to preach hard - it is about making relationships. Gather the produce for the food bank, take the collection, talk about how our gifts will benefit people who are nothing to do with the local church. We give because we love.
Sheep - we made our own sheep and became a congregation or 'flock as the children stuck them round the Spoon Shepherd. A local farmer pointed out that sheep don't come in ONEs, they are always a flock.
We then looked at the place of rest and safety in 'lying down in green pastures'
I took time to sit in the green pasture I'd made out of some fake lawn and a flowery cushion. It was a nice break as everyone made sleepy-people in matchboxes with dolly-peg top people and tiny pre cut coverlets. We love double sided sticky tape!
We made a river out of a long piece of blue fabric, 'borrowed' from another church and talked about what we like to do by the stream and there in (polystyrene) pebbles, paddled, lay down next to it and went fishing with both net and rod. We agreed that it is good to be by still waters.
My photographer was busy, so I don't have photos of these bits!
We talked about paths and problems. How God is with us and when we don't see him or feel him near, he is there. Each person had approx 50cm string which they tied to the one of the person next to them. All of our problems and struggles and ways forward are held by God. He excludes no one. This ring of string was big enough to go around the middle block of chairs and some of the church people held it high as we prayed for all the issues of the world. While the string was being tied, we played Waymaker in the background
It was the Under Seat Feast that was my favourite! With stashes of grapes and biscuits; party rings and crackers hidden in takeaway containers where the hymn books go, the Table that God has prepared was broken out and passed around. The older people were not seen exercising restraint! And this was the point when - as everyone was tucking into chews and sweet treats that I was able to tell something of the gift of Jesus' own body and blood - the gift of all-embracing sacrifice and salvation. Again - there are no photo's because the photographer was busy finding sweets and scarfing grapes!
We learnt a Psalm and shared in fellowship.
It was good.