Revd. Mark Carrick explains how Central Methodist Church in Chesterfield are using a 'Murder Mystery' style event to explain the Advent story.
He said: "The idea came about in response to a self-posed question 'how do we offer the story of our faith in a relevant, engaging, and immersive way?'
"For many of us, the Christmas story is a well-trodden path, whether we attend church or not. Stories of stars, mangers, shepherds, and gift-bearing visitors from the East are recalled in carols, films, and books. How do we, in church, avoid becoming acclimatised to such well known events? And how do those outside the church see it as more than just a story that's rolled out each year? The challenge was to tell the story in a way that was both missional and inspiring for us all.
"The idea was to offer something that made the story personal. But how do you offer an immersive experience with events that took place over 2,000 years ago? Using the 'Murder Mystery' idea of inviting people to eat together and solve a mystery unfolding before them was perhaps one way. Initially, it was 'who stole the manger?', but we decided on a play on words, hence 'Myrrh, the Mystery'.
"So, the event will be based on offering a buffet tea for around 80 guests. Seated in squads of five, guests will be invited to assist the Bethlehem Police in solving the mystery of the missing Myrrh. We have drafted in the creative talents of Chris Warren in the writing and construction of the event, and Abigail Carrick in designing unique, bespoke artwork to both advertise and assist in the event.
"The event works by sending a steady stream of information, supposedly from detectives in the field. Each squad gets the same rolling flow of clues and police interviews. These are both displayed on a big screen and delivered on slips of paper, so that a record of all the data can be kept, sorted, puzzled over, and re-arranged.
"As the scenario unfolds, each group in effect reconstructs and re-imagines the story of the Nativity in Bethlehem, as told by Luke and Matthew. Using a map and eyewitness reports, we hope people will be 'transported' into the story. But in our version the myrrh goes missing. Who has taken it? Why was it stolen? What will happen next? Lots of happy talk, and a satisfying solution – it's all part of the game! Of course, we can then explain why the myrrh was so important, who the baby was, why was he born in a stable, and what was the significance of the star or the Eastern visitors. It all comes together so those who have been in the mystery can see the Nativity story from a fresh perspective. We hope people who aren't used to coming to church will hear for themselves the real mystery of God coming to earth!
"Tickets are on sale in Cornerstone, Central Methodist Church, priced £3. We hope the event is a missional opportunity to invite others to hear the story of Christmas.