carry. Oh, his gout! Oh, his sciatica!
• NOTE: This story easily translates into an all-ages pageant. Also, The Last Straw is included in a CBC recording, Along the Road to Bethlehem, that includes performances by the Toronto Children’s Chorus and tenor Ben
Heppner as Hoshmakaka the camel.
• The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. A short story about a
young married couple and how they deal with the challenge of buying Christmas gifts for each other with very
b. Watch “Wisemen”. Storyteller Garrison Keillor tells his
own version of the story of the magi and explains the real
meaning of myrrh.
The Rev. Robyn Brown-Hewitt, Director Youth Ministry
Diploma Program at Atlantic School of Theology and
United Church Chaplain at Dalhousie University, Halifax,
These resources can be copied and used by communities
of faith. Please credit the author and The United Church
of Canada when reproducing the materials. This originally
appeared on Advent Unwrapped, where you’ll find more
intergenerational Advent stories and resources.
Note: this activity is best done in the evening.
All ages (try this at home)
A smartphone or app with SkyView® installed
Talk about the star in the Christmas
story. Was it a supernova? A comet? A
conjunction of planets? Uninterested in
natural causes, Matthew points to a supernatural event. He is recalling a prophecy from
centuries past: “The oracle of Balaam son of
Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is clear,
the oracle of one who hears the words of God…. I
see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near—a
star shall come out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise
out of Israel” (Numbers 24: 15–17). The star guides us
all to the one who would be called “the bright
morning star” (Revelation 22: 16) and “light
of the world” (John 9: 5).
Find the stars!
ACTIVITY 4: STORYTIME
a. SkyView® Free brings stargazing
to everyone. Download the app,
and then point your hand-held device at the sky to iden-
tify stars, constellations, satellites, the space station, and
b. Spend some time wondering and enjoying the stars, or
have a scavenger hunt for constellations.
c. Invite a local astronomer or star watcher to share their tele-
scope and the story of the stars with you. Plan an excur-
sion to a planetarium or science centre.
Storybooks or videos about the magi.
a. Read or watch a story that focuses on the magi:
• The Last Straw by Fredrick H. Thury. This is the story of
the magi from the camel’s point of view. Hoshmakaka, a
curmudgeonly old camel, has been chosen for the great
responsibility of carrying gifts to the new baby king.
Every day in the heat crossing the desert, his pack grows
heavier as the crowds of people give him their gifts to