Christmas Videos: Kings Church Edinburgh & St Pauls Auckland

On Tuesday we highlighted some music to get you in the Christmas mood. Today we have some videos- 2 to be precise. Christmas always gets Christian creatives motivated and there are plenty of good videos out there, retelling the Christmas story or exploring the questions it raises.

To stand out from the melee, you’ve got to be good. You’ve got to come in at a different angle, you’ve got to exhibit a level of quality that will stand up even discounting the seasonal good cheer. These two videos do just that. So here goes:

Threadbare (King’s Church, Edinburgh)

Kings Church, Edinburgh, is a church that I’d love to get to know better. They’re in the New Ground bit of Newfrontiers, we’re in the Catalyst bit, so we’re like siblings, or at worst cousins. My good friend Luke Davydaitis is one of the leaders (and he’s a great bloke). Nathanael Smith, Thinktheology’s resident film reviewer, is one of the Kings Church faithful. And so is a lady called Jennifer Rawson.

Jennifer Rawson used to be called Jennifer Taylor and featured in our very first Sputnik Anthology back in 2014. Her poems were some of the highlights of that particular publication but I’d heard nothing from her since. Until this video. I don’t think that Jennifer is the lady in the video, but she certainly wrote the poem that it is built around.

To put it simply, this is how to do a church Christmas video. Forget all the wrappings and just go for the heart of things. This will work in a carol service, but it stands up in its own right as an excellent piece of work at any time of the year (inside or outside a church meeting). It’s well shot, well edited and well recorded. I get the impression that Kings church folk were also responsible for the soundtrack too. Phew!

As Christians left, right and centre fill Youtube with earnest and deeply mediocre ‘spoken words’, it is so refreshing to hear someone who knows how to wield the English language with subtlety and skill.

Take note: this is what happens when you get an actual poet to do a church video, rather than getting a pastor,student worker, or just some good looking member of your congregation to do it.

Seriously guys. This is awesome.

Star of Wonder (St Pauls, Auckland)

I’ve rather selfishly kept this up my sleeve for the last week or so, and noticed that none of my Facebook pals or twitter cronies have cottoned on to it yet. I LOVE this video.

When Sputnik began, St Pauls, Auckland were a huge source of inspiration to me. They are most renowned for their Christmas videos, particularly the Spike Jonze-y ‘Good News of Great Joy’ and Michel Gondry-esque ‘An Unexpected Christmas’. They then dropped off most people’s radars (although their subsequent offerings were also fantastic).

Upon a little investigation, I soon found out that, while Christmas seems to be their shop window, St Pauls is more than a sanctified Santa’s grotto. These guys don’t just have a creative streak, they seem to be something of a creative powerhouse in their city. They put on art exhibitions, gather thousands to their creative services and basically put the rest of us to shame (or spur us onwards, depending how you’re feeling that day).

Behind all of this is a guy called James Bowman. He was senior art director at Saatchi until 2013, but has since moved to New Zealand based advertising and communications company bcg2. We exchanged some emails early on and he was really encouraging in those early days, for which I am still very grateful.

Therefore, it was excellent to see a link from him in my inbox to the new SPAM (St Pauls Arts and Media) Christmas video. What was more excellent though was the video itself. After the full on cuteness of GNoGJ and AUC, this is more of a stealth attack. It is a masterful piece of work- drawing you in, with a light smile here and a furtive glance there, until the understated, but still grand, reveal.

Whereas most Christmas videos talk and talk at you, this features just one Bible verse. But there is a simple profundity here that should not be missed.

City crowds are a helpful window into modern life. We walk through our lives increasingly isolated and individualistic, cut off from those around us, in our iPod dream chambers, augmented reality games or just swapping emojis with people on Whatsapp. But, even in such a world, Christmas has something to say. Christmas is about the one who can still grab our attention and he can turn our vacant stares and world weary frowns into huge beaming smiles.

More than any other video I’ve seen this year, this one boils Christmas down to its most crucial component: Joy to the world.

Happy Christmas!

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