The Preview 1
The Preview 2
The film NOT the Nine Lessons and Carols of Christmas went live on YouTube at 8pm on Sunday 13th December 2020. It is now visible above and it can be found on YouTube by clicking here.
The Film Synopsis
This film is a made-up story of Christmas, taking us up to Christmas eve. It is told through nine sketches, or scenes, or dialogues. These sketches can be downloaded (see below) and anyone can use them in a church context. They may NOT be used to make money! I would love to hear from anyone planning to use the sketches on this web page, or any of the sketches on other pages of the website. Contact details can be found on the contact page.
Sketch One: Mary and Joseph (part one)
In this sketch, Mary and Joseph are being interviewed on stage at a big Christian Summer conference. In this dialogue they talk about how they grew up in the same village (Nazareth) and their relationship gradually developed until they knew they just wanted to be together for the rest of their lives.
Sketch Two: Elizabeth and Zechariah (part one)
In this sketch Elizabeth tells the story of how Zechariah saw an angel in the Jerusalem Temple who told them they would have a baby boy (called John). Zechariah has lost his voice due to his lack of belief and so has to communicate by holding up boards with writing on them.
Sketch Three: Anna and Simeon
Anna and Simeon will usually be found in the Temple courtyard, either praying for people in the silence of their own heads or praying out loud with people who have come to the Temple in need of connecting with God. In this dialogue, they are talking about their ministry and their belief that the Messiah will come very soon.
Sketch Four: Mary and her Father
In this sketch we come into the room just after Mary has told her dad that she believes she is pregnant. The news has come as a bombshell to her dad, and the conversation carries on from there.
Sketch Five: The Three Shepherds
In this sketch the three shepherds from Bethlehem are sitting down to have their lunch, and through a dream that one of them has had, their thoughts and discussion turns to the subject of the long awaited Messiah.
Sketch Six: Mary with Joseph’s mum
In this made-up story, Joseph’s mum is also the village mid-wife. So Mary has to go and see her about finding out if she is pregnant, which makes for a rather awkward conversation!
Sketch Seven: Elizabeth and Zechariah (part two)
This sketch takes place after Elizabeth has given birth to John, and Zechariah has got his voice back. Elizabeth, however, continues to do most of the talking, and she tells us about what happened when Mary came to stay.
Sketch Eight: Mary and Joseph (part 2)
We’re now back at the Christian Summer conference where Mary and Joseph are continuing to tell their story of how they were reconciled and married.
Sketch Nine: Closing stories
This is one sketch, but made up of short dialogues which tidy up the loose ends and lead us up to Christmas eve. The scene is now set for the birth of Jesus and the much bigger story that carries on from there.
The story behind this project
In December 2018, a few of the ladies in our church (Christ Church, Chilwell) decided to organise a Christmas play for the younger children to perform at the Christmas eve service.The play was called “An Unexpected Christmas”, written by J. M. Davies. The main organiser asked me to film the show, which I did, and the film is still available for viewing on the ‘Children’ page of the church’s website.
In the Autumn of 2019, I was thinking about this play and wondering if I should have a go at writing another play for the children to perform at Christmas (having a youngster of my own). But, as I thought about it I quickly realised that the sort of things I wanted to say in a play about the Christmas story made the play unsuitable for young children to act in. So I wrote a play which envisaged older teenagers playing the different roles. The play is called “Mary and Joe” and is set in the now, with Joe playing in a rock band and the angel Gabriel contacting Mary through a video message on her mobile/cell phone. But having written this play, I quickly discovered I had a problem. Like many churches, our church had only a few older teenagers in the congregation, and not many of them wanted to act.
So, at the start of 2020, after much more reflection, I came to the conclusion that I had got a little ahead of myself. I needed to find out who we had in our congregation that could act, and were keen to do so. I then created a drama group called “The Prophets Minor” and began writing short sketches to fit in with sermons. This not only enabled me to discover the human resources in the church, it also enabled the church leadership to discover what I could do. Meanwhile, it wasn’t long before new ideas were coming to mind for a Christmas play which was much more in line with the resources we had, and so I wrote the nine sketches which became the “NOT the Nine Lessons and Carols of Christmas“ film.
In the Autumn of 2020 I was told by the church leaders that we could go ahead with this project. But because we in Nottingham were already in Tier 3, in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, I knew that doing this play live before an audience in church was not going to be possible. The question now was whether a filmed version would be possible, and I had my doubts. However, I knew that some of the scenes could be filmed by the actors in their own homes, so I decided to get started on doing what we could do, and see if the other scenes became possible as we went along. In fact, that’s what happened. I knew I wouldn’t get things perfect doing it this way, but I think it was good enough. So, when you watch the film, be aware that these are 15 none professional actors, often acting without the benefit of having the other actors in their scene anywhere near them when they were being filmed. Also, the music was put together by one musician recording their part and then sending the recording to the next musician to record their part, etc. There was not the advantage of having the other musicians present when the recording was made. In these conditions It is, I think, surprising that this film was ever completed!
The film was released on Sunday 13th December 2020 at 8 pm through the Christ Church, Chilwell YouTube account