1. Our story begins...

Luke 1:5 When Herod was king of Judea…

Imagine with me that you are sitting in an olive tree. The day is a little chilly, and the wind is blowing. Your friends hang off branches and jump from rock to rock. You are in your family'solive grove and the year is about 4BC, although no one quite knows that for sure.

When you look around you see a small village. It’s not famous or important, but its home. Most of the people who live in this village are your family. This village is called Nazareth. It’s up in the north of Israel, near the mountains dusted with snow.

This is your village, the place you call home. Life is pretty good for you. Sure, you have to go to school, carry water from the town's well to your house, and you also have to work pretty hard in the family olive grove, but you get plenty of time to play with your friends climbing trees and keeping out of trouble.

But, things are not good for your country. The man in charge is named Herod. He is the king of Israel and he …

Do you see what I see?

Are you looking for some media or video clips for your Advent and Christmas events or church services? Here are some options to get you started. Some of them are Youtube clips, others are free to download and use. 

Learn more about the Shepherds who feature in the Christmas account. 
This video series 'Drive Thru History' is well worth a watch, for giving you background information, as well as for playing in a church or community service:

The Mystery of the Noisy Neighbour:
From the Bible Society UK. Show this free animation in your church services, children's programmes and community events. Suited for a young audience. Discover who Jesus really is... Emmanuel, Rescuer and King. Click here to find out more and download.

The Bible Project: The Birth of Jesus - Gospel of Luke Ch. 1-2:
If you are looking for an excellent series of clips digging deep into the Bible, these are great! Use them as study material for your Sunday School team or volunteers, before exploring the story wit…

The Three Kings by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What a beautiful poem to read this Christmas, (despite the fact we don't know that there were three wise kings, nor do we know their names). This would make a great addition to an All-Age service, or as part of a church service during Advent. Find someone in your congregation with a great reading voice. You might even like to have them sit in a comfy arm chair with a lamp for light. 
For extra drama, soak a little frankincense or myrrh oil onto cotton-wool balls and pass these out before you read the poem. Let people smell the spice of the wise kings gifts, as they listen to the poem, and take home the cotton-wool ball as a reminder. 
The Three Kings 
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Three Kings came riding from far away,
Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;
Three Wise Men out of the East were they,
And they travelled by night and they slept by day,
For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.

And when they came to Jerusalem,
Herod the Great, who had heard this thing,
Sent for the Wise…

Looking for some Christmas tunes?

I apologise to your ears in advance. This post is full of Christmas music, ranging from the traditional to the dance-party vibe. If you are looking for some songs for your church or children's community or church programme, then here are a few we have come across. I have provided the Youtube links to them so you can have a listen. 

Listen at your own risk :) 

Mary, did you know?Stunning! Good to play in the background.
Away in a Manger: A beautiful rendition of this classic carol. 
O Come O Come Emmanuel: A slightly 'dance-party' version of this carol. 
Angels we have heard on high: This is a Youtube clip of the actions to go with the carol. You can purchase the song from Amber Sky Records
Noel: ...more dance party vibes
Noel: a really lovely version to balance out the dance party version above!
Do you hear what I hear: A lovely rendition of this song. 

Hear the bells: This is a good option for children to learn and sing. 
Peace has come: a lovely song from Hillsong. Great for al…

Be a peace maker...

5 November On the 5th Nov 1881 government troops marched on the peaceful settlement of Parihaka, Taranaki.  The events that happened at Parihaka are an important part of our New Zealand history, but they are not very well known.  They tell a story of peaceful resistance and belief in a God of peace, not violence.  This story is so important that Gandhi and Martin Luther King referred to it as helping them to make their peaceful stand against injustice. It is a story our children should know.  5th of Nov is known as Parihaka Day.  

Programme: I have written a one-off programme to be used with children to explore the events of Parihaka. It is approximately 30mins in length. This programme focuses on the value of Community and Participation, Porihanga. It focuses particularly on PEACE, Rangimarie, and what it means to be peace makers.
* Activity ideas  * Story telling ideas and a script to use * Discovery questions. 

If you would like a copy of this programme please click here download it from…

Maori Language Week

10-16 Sept: It's Māorilanguage week!
What a great reminder that we live in a country with three official languages; Māori, English and NZ sign language. It also provides a reminder to consider how our programmes and our conversations reflect this diversity. Here are just a couple of simple suggestions and resources to help you this week and beyond.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori: Maori Language Commission: 
The Māori Language Commission has a great collection of resources for you to download and use.
There are fabulous posters and phrasebooks available. Why not print them off and display them around your church?

The importance of correctly pronouncing Māori words:
This YouTube clip has been around for a while, but it's great! If you haven't seen it, it is worth a watch.Click here to check it out. "My name is Finnian Galbraith and I am a year 11 student at Kāpiti College. I wrote this speech initially for a speech competition in 2014 because I see this as a big issue and I…

As easy as 5 steps

Weaving spiritual practice into our day can be a challenge. In the busyness of work, school, meetings, sport and life, setting aside time to connect with God can seem one step too far. Here's one simple practice we have found helpful. It's as easy as 5 steps. And it's a simple version of an ancient practice. That means people have been using this method for centuries. That's gotta mean its good, right? 

Faith Five: Five steps to help you and your family connect with God. 

This method is based on a practice called the Examin, an ancient way of pausing at the end of the day to reflect on where God has been. It can be incorporated into your bedtime routine for five to fifteen minutes a night, or can be used during a meal time. We use this on our kids camps as a review at the end of each day. 

Five steps, hence the name.

1. SHARE your highs and lows of the day 
As a family you could share one high and one low each. This works well at the dinner table as well as sitting together…