Sunday, December 25, 2005

Wadja git?

Merry Christmas, everyone!
What a wonderful and tiring day it was. The action began last night with our church's annual Christmas Eve service (okay, it actually began last month around Thanksgiving, but I'm talking immediate past here). It was a beautiful service as always. Afterwards, we went "light looking." It too was fun and enjoyable.
And then...home. And some yuletide snacking. And some last minute wrapping. And last minute cleaning. As for me, I was putting the finishing touches on a "Playtime Parable." Now let me interrupt this missive long enough to explain what a "Playtime Parable" is. Once in awhile, during Sunday Morning Celebration Large Group Time (often referred to as "Children's Church" in some congregations), I will present a Biblical story or Bible truth or lesson using action figures. I have a camera set up to the big TV so the kids can see the action. It's a lot of fun and very well received. Now in the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I did not originate "Playtime Parables." Way out in the Chicago area lives my counterpart in children's ministries, a warrior for the Lord named Karl Bastian. He and I have met exactly twice, along with a few hundred of my closest friends, so if he does not remember me, that's perfectly understandable. Anyway, if creativity and innovation have a picture attached, it's Karl's. And one of his innovations is "Toybox Tales," in which he acts out Bible lessons using action figures. And here's the neat part...he even gives instructions on how to do the same thing! So I launched "Playtime Parables" at our church. If you want to see what experience, better technology, and a slightly offbeat mind will produce, check out for Karl's sight (it even includes free downloads). Let him know Tim sent you (to which he might say, "Tim who?)
Anyway, I was up until 2 a.m. working on Playtime Parable's "A Christmas Caroble". I told my lovely wife to set the alarm for 5:30, since I wanted to get an early start. She laughed and said I really did not want to get up that early. I went to bed, thinking about how I would get up early. And then, to show that God has a sense of humor, at 5:45 a.m., I got a tremendous cramp in my foot! I sprang out of bed to walk it off, only to realize the pain had vanished just as quickly as it arrived. And as I sat on the edge of the bed, weary, sleepy, and disoriented, I heard a voice within say, "So you really want to get up now?" I went back to sleep for a while longer.
Large Group Celebration went very well. We had a craft. We had a game. We had a festive holiday song. All that was left was the Playtime Parable and the object lesson. I flicked on the camera and began the scene. I had barely started the dialogue when my wife gave me the "sign" that the worship service was over and parents were starting to pick up their kids! I was faced with a choice. I could try to "rush it", but that would sacrifice the quality. So I stopped the action and told the kids, "To learn what happens next, come back next week!" I then did my object lesson, since it contained the very essence of what we were getting at, which is keeping Jesus at the center of our Christmas and of our lives.
A good ending for a good morning.
Afternoon was spent at my wife's mother's house. We had a great dinner, then opened presents. Some of you may wonder what a guy like me gets for Christmas. Well, I got socks and other articles of clothing, but I also received a 12 cup coffee maker (I am immune to 10 cups anymore), a commentary, a jar of peanuts (a tradition), a copy of the Fantastic Four movie, and one of the neatest gifts of all, a PlayStation 2 game called "Nintendo Museum", which features all the classic arcade games of the 70's and early 80's. I don't do a lot of current video games, but these games bring back memories of when video games were simple and fun.
So it was a good Christmas. But the older I get, the more I find that the presents are secondary to the joy and wonder of this season.
I hope all of you had a good day and that the upcoming new year will be a Christ centered one. God bless us, every one!

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