Christmas during Covid – Outdoor crib idea

David Guest, Vicar, St Bartholomew's, Otford

We realise that we cannot offer our usual Crib Service (which attracts over 300 people) or indeed many of our other popular pre-Christmas services. We are concentrating on two main ways of taking the good news to the community.

First we have prepared 2D wooden figures for a Nativity scene to display in our porch which we are going to gradually build up on Sundays during Advent, adding a few Nativity figures each week – we are fortunate to have a wooden porch which can easily be transformed into a stable scene. The idea is we take the doors off and put up some perspex up, so people can see into the crib scene all day and night. There’s a busy public footpath past our church so we expect lots to see it.

A member of the congregation has been cutting out the figures at home – see the photo. These have now been moved to our church centre where they are being kept securely and hygienically. One by one, families will be invited to take a figure and paint / decorate it at home. They’ll then bring it back on a designated Sunday during Advent to put into the porch display.

This will happen with several families and figures over Advent until Jesus arrives in the display on Christmas Eve.

Then on Christmas Eve, the church will be open for reflection/individual private prayer for a period of time. During that time, different families will be telling an aspect of the Nativity story outside. It will run a little like a Mystery Play, with different groups telling different parts of the Nativity story outside – visitors will move along a one way route listening to each group as they go, then they will finish off walking into the church, (which includes the usual indoor crib scene), while music plays and there will be other display items too.