Love Is Here Christmas 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 4.28.39 PM.pngChristmas. It always has that special challenge to present a unique, creative, moving experience that will give a fresh perspective on a well known narrative. One of the keys for us as we begin the process each year is to have a conversation around the tone and emotional objective we are looking for in the Christmas service experience. This will become the catalyst forward as we begin working with elements, choosing music, and enhancing the environments.

This year we landed on the theme, “Love Is Here”.  The theme was actually inspired by a Laura Story song we ended up NOT using (but it is an awesome song we may use someday). Love is such a cliche term, but we wanted to communicate the warmth and security of God’s love especially in the midst of some real tumultuous times people were experiencing. We expected that people would be looking for a sense of confidence and comfort this holiday season so we let that be our tone.

The reason we didn’t use the Laura Story song was because our Music Asst. Matt Biel had written a Christmas song that we loved in its raw form and encouraged him to strengthen and refine. Fittingly, the song was titled, Love is Here. Matt and the band recorded an acoustic version and followed that up with a music video. This was used in our Christmas promotion and marketing as a free download and a “share” opportunity on social media channels.  This was released the first week of December and created some great traction for us.

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Our desire was to start the service up, lite and big. So we kicked it off with a great video from Igniter. The power of this video is the whisper element as it really grabbed everyone’s attention even as they were still loading into the room and finding seats.

We tied this element together seamlessly with our own original element using a Brady Bunch opener motif. The idea was to contrast the appeal to slow down and breathe with the realities of what many are feeling.  We projected this on a 9-surface screen that was build specifically for this element, but used throughout the service. For effect, we lowered the screen using our lift motors and truss and started the service with the screen near the surface of the stage. At the conclusion of the video, we raised the screen as the band kicked into an upbeat version of the original song, Love Is Here (rough mix).

Two Christmas worship tunes:
*Joy To The World (Ashes Remain)
*He Shall Reign Forevermore (Chris Tomlin)

Our big element was an interwoven piece combining monologue, live painting, and music to set up the message. April Holiday, one of our key creative players, delivered a moving introductory monologue setting the context for the arrival of Christ. It can be found here.

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Cloverton’s Christmas Hallelujah accompanied by the cello and highlighted with the live painting contained a powerful moment that set up the message so well. Our intent was to execute this moment with subtlety and allow it to speak to the heart without going over the top.

Following the message, O Holy Night (Kerrie Roberts) was sung as the painting was completed. One of our signature moments each Christmas is to feature our local and global missions partners. We chose to do this as candles were being lit throughout the room via video. Each of our partners sent a video of candles being lit as they said, “love is here, Merry Christmas” in their native language. It was powerful as the light from the screens were overwhelmed by the light in the room as 1000’s of candles were lit.

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We concluded with our traditional singing of Silent Night.

Element Links:

Full Video of Christmas Service 2015

Christmas 2015 PCO Run Sheet

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Christmas 2015 Stage Set

This was one of our favorite Christmas sets to date.

Constructed over three days and involving numerous volunteers, the trees were made of 20 foot lengths of twine. Our strategy was to tie off each tree initially (100 strings per 6 ft. base/ 80 strings per 3 ft base) onto the large hook which we would later rig from our stage grid. This was a tedious process, but resulted in 6 ready to hang trees.

For our bases, we used pre-bent 1/2 rebar from a local steer company. Four 6 ft trees and two 3 ft trees would comprise our set.

After the rings were placed, a laser was used to hang each ring from the rigging. The next step was volunteer intensive and required patience. One individual on our man lift was responsible for isolating each string and 2-3 individuals on the ground would then tie the strings to the rebar. It was important to tie the strings on a rotating basis around the rebar to keep it in balance. We also weighted the rebar rings down with sand bags which allowed us to create some tension with the massive ring at the top of our trees. This was important to keep the taut look. Each string was tied approximately 2 inches apart with the excess being cut off as a final step.

This tying process took approximately 2 hours per tree.

Each tree was then lit with one colorblast LED on the inside and four colorblasts surrounding the outside to create the desired effect.

The back start lit drape was rented from a local stage shop here in Las Vegas.

Center Screen:
Constructed of 9 2×3 plywood panels wrapped in white muslin and then hog trough-ed together before being flow on our center truss. This truss was attached to our motors as we wanted the ability to raise and lower the screen.

Simple design. String trees are VERY cheap to construct, but time consuming.

 

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Inspired by String Trees at Church Stage Design

Let It Be Week 2 Christmas Series

This week we continued our Christmas series. Each week we also highlighted the message and our theme by introducing a communion mediation moment. Traditionally our elementary kids join us on this weekend and present two full band Christmas songs. They are accompanied by emerging musicians from the local Shepherd School of Music and it is always a highlight.

This week our focus was on being compassionate as we reflect the light of Christ. We were privileged to have a very real, heartfelt communion moment that dealt with pain of loss that we especially feel during this holiday season. Laura’s story reflected that loss so vividly and she shared so openly. There is always power in the narrative of a life.

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Laura Hiatt Communion Meditation:

December has become a difficult month for me. In 2011, on Christmas Eve, my mother passed away. Then a year and 9 months ago, my husband Chuck – who poured his life into making this building a reality died. His birthday is in December and so was our wedding anniversary.

At 4 in the morning, my phone rang with the news that he had collapsed while praying at the wailing wall in Jerusalem. In an instant my world changed. Things, simple things, became hard to accomplish. Other things that had brought me joy – tasted like ashes in my mouth. I cried out to God for help and He was there – always there.

I was part of a loving small group, church family and many friends who prayed for me. One friend said something particularly impactful. “I can’t even begin to understand your pain, but I am here”. We text a simple greeting each morning and it continues to this day.

For a long time, all I could do was soak in the love and prayers of others – But that is not where God wanted me to stay. He desires each of His children to Do for One What You Wish You Could Do For All.

And by His grace – I have been drawn back to life. I began giving tours of the campus and enjoyed talking about the building that Chuck was so involved with. Then I went back to teaching His Word in Kids Crossing and the 3s and 4s in Early Childhood once a month. God has led me to reach out to others who are devastated by loss through GriefShare and Surviving the Holidays. And not to neglect my need for study and continued growth, I have been attending Life’s Healing Choices and will join Celebrate Recovery in January.

As God continues to lead, heal and bring back my joy – I can’t help but reach out to others with a simple, yet powerful message – I may not understand the pain that you are experiencing right now – but I am here.

So let’s take the bread, that represents Christ body and the juice that represents his blood shed for us and consider where God desires us to share His compassion and message of Hope this Season.

Set List:

Furious

This Is Amazing Grace

Trust It All

Cornerstone

Run Sheet:  December 13, 2015

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