Christmas Outdoor Crib

Over Christmas in 2020, we realised that we couldn't offer our usual Crib Service (which usually attracts over 300 people) or indeed many of our other popular pre-Christmas services. We concentrated on two main ways of taking the good news to the community, and these ideas can be used any year going forward for lower Covid risk Christmas outreach.

First we prepared 2D wooden figures for a Nativity scene to display in our porch which we gradually built 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. We took the doors off and put up some perspex up, so people could see into the crib scene all day and night. There’s a busy public footpath past our church so we expected lots to see it.

A member of the congregation cut out the figures at home – see the photo. One by one, families were invited to take a figure and paint / decorate it at home. They then brought it back on a designated Sunday during Advent to put into the porch display.

This happened with several families and figures over Advent until the Jesus figure arrived in the display on Christmas Eve.

Then on Christmas Eve, the church opened for reflection/individual private prayer for a period of time. During that time, different families told an aspect of the Nativity story outside. It ran a little like a Mystery Play, with different groups telling different parts of the Nativity story outside – visitors moved along a one way route listening to each group as they went, then they finished off walking into the church, (which included the usual indoor crib scene), while music played and there were other display items too.


David Guest, Vicar, St Bartholomew's, Otford