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Four steps to a memorable Christmas story

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There will be plenty of opportunities this month to share the Christmas story. And whether you tell it to a restless gaggle of preschoolers or to an unbelieving acquaintance grumbling about “all the Christmas hubbub,” there are four simple steps you can take to make the story more memorable.

Step one: See the story, don’t memorize it

Can you see the nativity story unfold, from census to shepherds, with detail and clarity in your imagination? If you can, jump ahead to step three. If not, read on.

Open your Bible to Luke 2. Approach the story in four distinct scenes: getting to Bethlehem (verses 1–5), the birth in the stable (6–7), the angel’s appearance in the field (8–15), and the shepherds’ adoration (16–20).

Read slowly. Take time to visualize each scene. Use all five senses. What are Mary and Joseph wearing? Are the streets quiet or noisy? Is it chilly or mild? What does the stable smell like? The more vivid the story is for you, the better you will tell it.

Step two: Know your opening line

Choose an opening line that you really like. The NIV reads, “In those days…” but other good ones are: “Long ago in Bethlehem…,” “A  long, long time ago…,” and “Two thousand years ago….” Take your pick and memorize it.

Step three: Prepare for distractions

Before you unleash your opening line, ground yourself. This will bolster your confidence and help you stay focused when – not if – there are interruptions. Keep it simple but physical. Try planting your feet firmly on the floor, smiling at your audience, taking a deep breath, or whispering a prayer.

Step four: Use your voice and body

If you feel brave and want to go the extra mile to make the story memorable, consider bringing your whole body to the telling. Here are just a few ideas:

Slow your pace and soften your voice as you describe Mary swaddling Jesus and lying him in the manger. Deepen your voice and spread your arms wide when you talk about the angel’s message. Run on the spot as you describe the shepherds blazing into town to see the newborn king.
If you are unsure about step four, think of it this way: storytelling is about connecting. The teller’s job is to connect the listener with the story so that the listener can, in turn, tell it to others.

In summary: be prepared, then just go for it! By making your telling memorable, you will make more tellers.

Laura Thomas is a spoken-word recording artist, professional children’s storyteller, and creator of the Seven Secrets of Spontaneous Storytelling workshop (www.AgentStory.net). She attends Gracepoint Community Church in Surrey, B.C.

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