Here's the Christmas story, developed for Faversham Baptist Church meeting with some of the other churches on Christmas Day (2012), with a slight(!) footballing twist. Everyone was encouraged to wave scarves or anything they had whenever they heard something to do with football. We ended with a pre-rehearsed football chant. (With acknowledgements to Loanhead Parish Church for the inspiration and some original ideas. I built on and expanded what they did.)
Now it came to PASS that God sent an angel to a girl called Mary. She didn't live in a great big ASTON VILLA. Just a small home in Nazareth. ‘Keep your WIGAN, girl' the angel said, 'Do not be afraid. You have been MARKED by the Holy Spirit. You will give birth to a baby, and his name shall be Jesus.’
When the time came for the baby to be BOURNEMOUTH, Mary & Joseph had to travel AWAY from HOME. Bethlehem was crowded, and the RESULT was that all the inns were FULHAM. 'What are we going to do if any MORECAMBE?' the innkeepers asked each other. Mary and Joseph could find nowhere to stay but they PRESTON from door to door, each time receiving a RED CARD. 'I wish we'd BOOKED' said Joseph. 'I knew I shouldn't have left it to you,' Mary replied, 'I should have handled the (Sir Trevor) BROOKING myself.'
At last they found a place. The MANAGER of the inn lit his (Frank) LAMPARD, and SENT them OFF to a DUG OUT in the CORNER of his stable - it was a bit like one of those old (John) BARNES. 'I'm sorry it's not very (Wayne) ROONEY', he said, 'But I hope you'll be comfortable.' That was where Jesus was born - and they laid him in a RANGERS. Sorry, Manger.
Meanwhile out on the (Jimmy) HILL there was a motley CREWE abiding in the HUDDERSFIELD. (That's the one next to the CHESTERFIELD, past the MACCLESFIELD and opposite PETERSFIELD). These shepherds earned their SPURS guarding their sheep from WOLVES. Suddenly Angels appeared on SKY. I mean in the sky. (4-3-2-1, the so-called Christmas Tree FORMATION I think, with a FLAT BACK FOUR. In any case, they were all WINGERS, singing at high PITCH). 'We’ve some good news for you' they sang, 'Today in the (Stoke) CITY of David a Saviour has been born. Gloria in exCHELSEA Deo.'
The Shepherds were sore afraid, but one of them whose name was Stanley (oh I should explain - he came from a little place in Lancashire, they used to call him ACCRINGTON STANLEY. He was always on the (Alan) BALL and the sheep loved him; he was the best (Alan) SHEARER of the lot of them.)
Well, when the angels had gone, this ACCRINGTON STANLEY said: ‘LEICESTER go and SWANSEA what these angels are talking about’. So, off they went and when they reached the town they SHEFFIELD into the BARNSLEY. (It was unlocked because Joseph had forgotten to put the BOLTON). They saw the MARADONNA and child, and rejoiced for they could see the HAND OF GOD at work. Their HEARTS were glad. They BECKHAMMED to each other to worship the new-born King. (Interviewed afterwards ACCRINGTON STANLEY said he was OVER THE MOON).
Meanwhile in the distant LEYTON ORIENT, three (Dennis) WISE men see a BRIGHTON shining star. They are waiting for the sign that a king has been born. ‘Let us follow wherever it LEEDS’ they said. And so they travelled. Past GOODISON PARK, through WHITE HART LANE, and down ELLAND ROAD. They had a quick cup of tea in CRAVEN COTTAGE before crossing STAMFORD BRIDGE, then hurried on their camels along THE RIVERSIDE and through THE HAWTHORNES, right across the VALLEY.
The star took them into Jerusalem, where they hurried to the (Crystal) PALACE of King Herod (having first tried to find him at the NEWCASTLE he had recently built). ‘Welcome you WANDERERS, you ROVERS' he said, 'WALSALL the fuss about?’ ‘Although we are not (Charlton) ATHLETIC', they replied, 'we have travelled FORFAR looking for a new King’. 'We don't know where he is to be born, NORWICH CITY to look in. We thought it might be YORK CITY. It's all been (Hamilton) ACADEMICAL to us. So where is it all going to KICK OFF?'
King Herod wasn’t too pleased. In fact he was as SICK AS A PARROT. He was a FOUL man, and played DIRTY – he tried to CELTrICk them for he wanted to keep them ONSIDE: ‘Tell me when you find him and ALBION my way to worship him too’. But as soon as they left he got his whole ARSENAL ready. His intention was to KILMARNOCK every new-born boy.
The star led the wise men to the BARNET where they found both the baby and his MOTHERWELL. 'WYCOMBE with gifts', they said, and, filled with joy, they presented their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and ST MIRREN. (Look, I was getting tired by this point). Now these were wise men; they were pretty SHREWSBURY and not about to be SWINDON by old Herod so, having been warned in a dream, they EXETER CITY by a different route (thereby avoiding the QUEENS PARK RANGERS Herod had sent to find them).
So what is the point of all this? Let's DRAW this to a close before I LOSE you. Left to ourselves, our chances of knowing God have gone for a BURTON. Sin has put us OFFSIDE and we are RELEGATED to a life without God. Yet, though we have broken his (Dennis) LAW, God (Jimmy) GREAVES over us, and remains our greatest SUPPORTER. Far from sending us to COVENTRY, or getting ALDERSHOT of us, he wants the very (George) BEST for us, so he sent his Son to visit us on our HOME GROUND and TACKLE the problem of our sin. Jesus is in a different LEAGUE, the Saviour of the world. He died on the CROSS for us, SAVED us from the PENALTY of our sin, and has now been PROMOTED to the place of highest honour. As for our sins: as far as EAST FIFE is from WEST HAM, so far has he removed them from us.
The GOAL of the first Christmas was to end the DIVISION between us and God - God and MAN UNITED at last. God loves us (Bobby) MOORE than we can ever know. So let's not BURY our heads in the sand. Because of Jesus we will NEVER WALK ALONE, we can LIVERPOOL with God for EVERTON! Sin has met its MATCH. HULL has been defeated. Jesus has the VICTORY. There's the FINAL WHISTLE. So let’s give God’s Son, Jesus, a rousing football cheer.