Ultra-modern nativity

A CHURCH has broken two thousand years of tradition with an unusual nativity scene which shows baby Jesus lying in a SHOPPING TROLLEY.

Ultra-modern Grange Park Church, in Northampton, unveiled the scene, which also features Mary and Joseph lying in sleeping bags on the floor of a shed surrounded by tools, this week.

The church's bizarre 21st Century interpretation of the traditional story, called 'The Christmas Journey', starts in 15-year-old Mary's bedroom where she is visited by an angel.

It ends in the shed, where Baby Jesus sleeps in a shopping trolley filled with newspaper, next to a stack of paint pots and a lawnmower.

And while all the usual elements of the story are included - the shepherds, wise men and King Herod - the nativity also offers visitors the chance to try their hand at carpentry, touch and smell the gold, frankincense and myrrh, and advise Mary on her plight.

The display at The Kairos Centre, in Grange Park, Northampton, also includes a video diary by Mary as part of the reinvention of the Christmas tale.

The Rev Charlie Nobbs, minister of Grange Park Church, believes the modern day interpretation makes the characters more real and the story easier to relate to.

He said: “The aim is to engage everybody. Children enjoy it but because it’s pretty interactive, even for adults who know the story really well, it brings life and freshness to it, which sometimes you lose because hear it so many times.

“Because there’s a mixture of traditional and contemporary people get a feel for it.”

The minister added that the setting of the shed and shopping trolley corresponded to the stable and manger in the original story.

Rev Nobbs said: “If it was Grange Park today and nobody would let them in the house and the Holiday Inn was all booked up where would they end up? In a shed or a garage.”

Mr Nobbs said: “A lot of people have said they’ve been quite blown away because coming through the door you get that surprise factor. They said they found it quite emotional. Seeing the sleeping bags on the floor and the baby have brought it to life.”

Jayne Ellingham, 42, from Northampton, took three children around the nativity yesterday. She said: “I think it was really good because it put a modern twist on the story that children understand a lot more.

“You can’t imagine being born and put into a shopping trolley but that’s the equivalent.”

Mother of three Lisa Warriner, aged 34, from Northampton, agreed: “My son’s come back twice. He did it with school and he was so enthusiastic he gave us a tour.”

Volunteer Peter King, a history lecturer from Pitsford, has led a number of tours.

He said: “I think it works to give it a contemporary feel. Jesus wasn’t born in a hospital or a palace, he was born in a donkey shed.

“It comes home as a story where people made real, life-changing choices.”