Things are winding down at CFB Suffield, the base where I am currently posted. One of my duties as Padre is providing worship services at the small base chapel. If you follow my sermons on this blog, most are preached in this setting. Well, sort of. The chaotic nature of the chapel, where parents and kids are mixed together because we are too small for a Sunday school, means that the sermons here are the formal versions. What I preach on Sunday mornings is usually much simpler and aimed at all ages. But I digress.

Our chapel was decorated on the first Sunday of Advent. A spanking new Advent banner stands behind our Advent wreath. On the left, you can see one of our two new flat screen monitors getting its first use. The chapel was fortunate enough to get a large equipment grant ($30K+) under the previous base command, with the aim of making our services more contemporary and accessible to the community. Most small churches could only dream of such an outlay. For those of you who are curious, the program we are going to run on these monitors is called Easy Worship. I also plan to use content from a Christian multimedia developer called The Work Of The People – it’s thoughtful and theologically rich material, as well as being well produced.

After our Advent 1 service, some of our families put the finishing touches on the creche after a delicious pot luck lunch. Church suppers seem to mirror the feeding miracles in the Gospels, there is always more than enough food..

The following Sunday, Advent 2, the chapel was home to the first Nativity play I’ve seen in my three Christmases here. The seed for this idea was sown, I believe, by one of the British Army chaplains coming through on training this summer. Padre Nigel had a good noise for finding a cup of tea, and often visited the British wives club that meets in the chapel hall. Pretty soon the idea took root and as he left, Nigel apologized with a cheeky grin for leaving the job to me.

Actually it wasn’t much work. I helped the ringleaders write and revise a script, and gave them the few fruits of my wisdom from my time in the civvie church, namely, keep it simple. About ten hours of preparation came together in a chaotic fifteen minutes of performance.

The shepherds visit the manger. The costumes were all done at home, and some were quite well done. Note the angels sitting off to one side at the prieu dieu.

Shepherds are followed by the wise men. It’s a pity that the little girl in the lady bug costume isn’t in this shot. She was quite lovely, and spent much of the play sitting beside the boy in the camel costume. Isn’t that in Isaiah somewhere, about how the ladybug and the camel shall lie down together?

My only regret of the night is that for almost all of the children in this play, only a very few had ever been in the chapel before the rehearsals. A friend of mine noted that only 6% of the British population are churchgoing today, and I would say the percentage is lower in this expat British community. However, I found it interesting how many of the wives wanted to do “a proper Nativity play”, so maybe the seed that Padre Nigel planted will take root.

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