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An FMS Night Before Christmas

Giotto di Bondone - Legend of St Francis - 13. Institution of the Crib at Greccio

Trying to find a simple and fun way to celebrate the holidays with your community, Secular fraternity, or office?

This year, the Franciscan Mission Service staff played the following game at our annual Christmas party and it was a big hit.

We sat in a circle and each person had in front of him or her a wrapped gift — we chose to use $5 goodies from Trader Joe’s, but you could do ornaments or other generic items. Communications manager Bridget Higginbotham read a poem written especially for the occasion, and every time she said the word “right” the staff passed the present to the right, and every time she said “left” they passed the present to the left. At the end of the story — which took a while to get to due to laughter– the staff opened whichever gift was in front of them.

Inspired by Clement Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas” the poem incorporated names of the staff, some inside humor, and, of course, a visit from our patron saint:

Twas the night before Christmas and over at FMS,
the staff was reflecting, “This year, what a success!”
Kim was pleased with the new missioner class,
And Natalie relieved to have had the taus at commissioning Mass

Sarah liked that there were no more mission appeals LEFT,
And Bridget excited by the social media ministry’s new heft.
But for now their work they LEFT at the office with care,
In hopes that Christmas vacation soon would be there.

The associates were nestled RIGHT snug in their beds,
While visions of missioners danced in their heads;
And Melissa in her kerchief, and Nate in his cap,
Had just settled their brains for a long winter’s nap,

When outside the Casa there arose such a clatter,
Katie jumped RIGHT out of bed to see what was the matter.
RIGHT across the room she ran, on her feet she was light,
She jumped towards the window and pushed the blinds to the RIGHT.

In the yard she saw a little man, poor and lank,
Who she knew RIGHT away, must be St. Frank
Examining our house of hospitality and formation,
He whistled, and shouted, and praised all creation:

“Praise be Br. Sun, Br. Wind, Br. Fire, Lord’s power and might
Praise be Sr. Water, Sr. Earth, and Sr. Moon, who lights up the night
From the mountains of the Bolivia, to the shores of Jamaica and Guatemal,
praise be, praise be, praise be it all!”

He was dressed all in brown, from his tonsure RIGHT to down to his bare feet,
Patches from LEFT over scraps made his rough habit complete.
Around his waist was a chord bearing three tied knots,
and all knew in an instant that they liked him lots and lots.

He walked through the door, looked around and said “ciao,”
RIGHT behind him we noticed a donkey and cow.
At first Slavka thought he was making a mess-io,
Until she realized he was recreating the scene at Greccio.

Though his LEFT and RIGHT hands had wounds in their flesh,
He carefully went about setting us up a creche.
To the RIGHT he put Joseph, to the LEFT he put Mary the mother,
These statues and more, were lovingly placed by our brother.

He spoke not a word, ignoring the holiday festivity
For the most important piece was LEFT out from the nativity.
Laying the little infant Jesus in the borrowed manger,
Francis reminded us that is it RIGHT to welcome the stranger.

Reverently he gazed, for the scene was all done –
A simple reminder of the birth of God’s Son
The angels so heavenly, the sheep so fleecy
With nothing LEFT to do, Francis headed back to Assisi.

He sprang out of the house, looking for his brother Juniper,
dancing down the street like a RIGHT little troubadour
And we heard him exclaim as he tugged on his hood,
Merry Christmas to you! Peace and all good!

Hopefully this game gives you some ideas for how this Christmas you can share in joyful fellowship with the Franciscan-hearted people in your life.

The key is to customize the beginning so it is tailored to your gathering. Also, you can use the references and descriptions of St. Francis as possible teaching moments for those who are not very familiar with the life of this saint.

staff xmas party 2014


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We prepare and support lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.

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