Sunday, December 03, 2006

Advent Update

It's been a long time since I updated this blog. Sorry to all of you who have been waiting for news. Life has been busy for me and my community. When I volunteered to help coordinate screenings for "The Nativity Story" movie I had no idea what a roller coaster adventure that would entail. I had been told that a company in California would arrange a screening of the movie for us here in Toronto. We would provide email addresses, and they would send them for us. They also would rent a theater, etc. In the meantime a Canadian distributor contacted us, and we hesitated to work with them because of the Los Angeles connection. In the end, the LA firm realized that in Canada we had to deal with the local (or national in this case) distributor: Alliance Atlantis. This company had hired two Christan men: Jeff Thiessen who runs a TV PR company and who is experienced in Christian media; and Deacon Bill Kokesh who lives near Montreal. Jeff was extremely helpful in introducing us to what all this meant. We met him finally at a screening which we partially helped to arrange at a downtown theater.
Then we were offered two screenings: one on Nov. 22 and another on Nov. 27. After we had sent out 500 emails, we were told, "No. The theater is not available on the 22nd since that is the eve of American Thanksgiving. Three new movies are released that date, so no space. Change to the 23rd. " That entailed many emails, and phone calls. Part of our screenings included a duo of Sr. Marie Paul Curley, FSP and Ms. Marilyn Ephick who contributed chapters to the book "The Nativity Story: Contemplating Mary's Journey of Faith." After the film screening the two invited comments from the audience and then told of their involvement with the film, especially with the script, and how that happened.
As of tonight, I have seen The Nativity Story 4 times. This evening after we closed our book center--after having about 300 or more children, their parents, grandparents and others come to our Birthday Party for Baby Jesus, we headed off for the theater closest to us in the Yorkdale Mall and saw it for the 4th time. This time we paid for the tickets in order to support the film finacially. Films are usually gauged by how much they bring in at the box office during their first few days of release. We wanted New Line Cinema to be encouraged to keep doing this type of good movie. For Sr. Marie Paul it was the 5th time. She had seen a first cut of the movie when it was screened at the City of Angels Film Festival in Los Angeles.
Our last screening for the film included among the close to 300 attendees, about 40 to 50 Christians of various denominations. They all seemed very positive in their reactions. I personally see it as a "meditation" on the journeys in the spiritual realm and in the material, physical world for Mary and Joseph. It also starkly shows the harsh surroundings and difficult political world into which Jesus was born.
I will say more about this later.

These pictues show some of the Baby Jesus Birthday Party activities. Sister Marlyn took all the Polaroid photos. Sr. Donna headed up the face painting area, and Sister Hosea coordinated the ehole affair, while Sr. M. Paul was in charge of the costume area. I was upstairs greeting the folks and helping the grown ups find books.
Here are a couple of pictures of the Party for kids today. New Line Cinema also provided, via Alliance Atlantis, for a nice Advent Calendar with pictures from the film to be given to each child.
Have a blessed beginning of Advent.
By the way, the weather this morning was our first steady snowfall for Toronto. However it cleared up and the children kept coming. For many families this Baby Jesus Party has become a yearly tradition. Besides getting a picture taken with Baby Jesus; there are birthday cakes; crafts and gifts for every child (and grown ups too.)

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