Our annual visit to Edinburgh’s winter celebrations today. That most attractive of cities dresses up specially at this time of year, and the result is genuinely magical. We discovered a free children’s area at the west end of Princes St Gardens. A paddock of reindeer, evidently occasionally fed by Santa, caught our eye. Behind it was a large ‘nordic-style’ tent, in which colouring and craft tables were available, and every so often a storyteller performed in a grotto-like setting with a log fire to warm the audience. We sat through a performance: a couple of songs (‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Jingle Bells’), and three or four stories in similar vein. The storyteller, identified only as ‘Fergus’, was talented, and easily held his audience of 50-60 children aged 4-10 for forty minutes or so.
Kudos to Edinburgh for putting on the event, free. It made Christmas shopping a pleasure for our girls, and left us with warm memories of the day, despite a fraught trip home because of signal failures on the railway.
Later, we passed a church doing street evangelism. Dressed as Santas and clowns, they gave us sweets for the kids and a tract for the adults; as we walked back past them, one clown was, incongruously, preaching, to a rather-too-obvious rent-a-crowd (if four people can be a crowd). Good for them for doing something, of course, but my idle reflections on the crowded train home went back to the storyteller. Could not the churches have done that, just as it was done by Fergus, only with a sensitive and non-threatening telling of the nativity as the last story, and perhaps (but perhaps not) an invitation to find out more about this story at a church near you this Christmas? Good numbers of people, genuinely pleased to be there, leaving feeling positive about the event–not a bad model for evangelism, surely?