Opening activity: Celebration charades:
Two or three volunteers act out scenes without talking and the congregation has to guess what they’re celebrating. If you can, choose the people before the service starts so they have chance to think about what they might do in advance.
- Watching your football team score a goal
- Getting good exam results
- A birthday
- Winning a big prize in a competition.
- Receiving a gift that you’ve always wanted
Once all have been guessed, invite people to briefly discuss the following question around their tables: “Can you think of a time that you had something big to celebrate? What was it and how did you celebrate?”
These are ideas and suggestions designed to help you to prepare your own talk rather than a script to use word for word.
- In today’s passage we meet two women who are celebrating unexpected arrivals. Mary and Elizabeth are at vastly different stages of life. For both of them pregnancy meant a change at a time when they definitely weren’t expecting it.
- Elizabeth had been unable to have a child for many years. Now, in her old age, it seemed like something that would never happen. Mary was much younger and not yet married – announcing her pregnancy to her family, community and her fiancé Joseph, who of course wasn’t the father, would not have been an easy thing to do!
- Although they were very different, there was one amazing experience they both had. Both of their babies were announced by an angel! An angel had appeared to Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband in the Temple.. Mary’s of course had a visit from the angel Gabriel who told her that she was pregnant and would give birth to a God’s child who would go on to be King.
- And now, in today’s passage Mary and Elizabeth meet. It could have been a meeting full of fear, of questions, doubts and worries but instead it is overflowing with joy. Elizabeth describes how the baby inside her jumps for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. Mary, in turn, bursts into song.
- In Advent we are reminded that the birth of Jesus wasn’t just good news for Mary but would be, in those words of the angels that we heard at the start of the service, “good news that will bring great joy to all people” – including us! What is the good news? Emmanuel – God is with us! In Jesus God has become one of us, experiencing what we experience and giving himself to save us.
- Of course this good news doesn’t guarantee us an easy life now. For Mary Jesus’ life would go on bring incredible moments but she would also experience pain, suffering and loss.
- Key Point: But the joy that the good news brings is something that can sustain us through the most difficult of times and is definitely something worth celebrating!
This talk is followed by the “Party” prayer stations