A creative Christian group from the U.K. gives us a look at what the story of Jesus Christ’s birth might look like through the thoughts of Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, and the wise men by posting their imagined feelings during the nine months leading to the baby Jesus’ arrival on Twitter.
Today's news stories of earthquakes, tsunamis, the overthrow of governments, and so on, have all taken on a new dimension thanks to the real-time 140-character and shorter tweets on Twitter. The creators of "Natwivity" are aiming to give the same breaking news feel to the coming of Jesus condensed during the first 25 days of December. It is the second Christmas season in a row for the full project.
The “action” is all tweeted out from one Twitter account with username @Natwivity and the biblical characters doing the texting are identified with hashtag marks. This year, the “voices” of the innkeeper’s wife and a “reporter from the Jerusalem Daily” have been added to the mix.
On Friday, during the second day of posts, the Natwivity writers tweeted, “#Mary Dull grey day. This dead end town is driving me crazy. #Nothingeverhappenshere.”
Later that day, a tweet states, “#Joseph Really hope Mary pops round today. #MissingMary”
The project is a collaboration between Evangelical Alliance, which is an interdenominational advocacy group in the U.K., and Share Creative, a design company also in the U.K.
“The idea for the Natwivity came as we were exploring how we tell stories in a fast-changing culture,” co-creator and Share Creative founder Huw Tyler told The Christian Post. “Twitter and Facebook allowed us to find an emotional level in a story that we often miss when we read it or see it in a kid's play.”
“People can pick up the story in their homes, at work, on their mobiles as they shop, eat and all those other Christmassy things,” Tyler, 26, said. “What's even more exciting is seeing those people share it with friends who may not know the story so well.”
The main writer for Natwivity is Katherine Maxwell-Cooke, an executive assistant at Evangelical Alliance. Co-writer Andy Kind is a professional comedian who adds some light comic relief, said Tyler.
“The story is inspired and based on the story we read in the Gospels,” he said. “This is the starting point, but there obviously has to be a large amount of creativity implemented to condense over nine months into 25 days as well as fill in parts of the story that contribute to the essential narrative.”
Kind, 30, told CP that what he likes best about the project is his hope that others on Twitter re-share or re-tweet the posts from Natwivity.
“I just look at the script and think 'Where would I put a joke without ruining the flow?' I use Twitter a lot, so making it relevant is easier than it might otherwise be,” explained Kind about his creative thought process.
Last year, Natwivity was followed by about 10,000 people, Tyler said. There are more than 5,000 followers so far this year according to the number given on the group's Twitter page.
“One of the highlights was watching people interact with the story. Mums were counseling Mary through her pregnancy and others discussed their view on particular parts,” Tyler said.
Youth ministry worker Ali Johnson, 25, is also a co-creator of Natwivity. Johnson has a degree in theology and said he is a passionate communicator of the Gospel who has spoken at many Christian events.
Natwivity creators say followers will be able to “read Mary’s angst as she tries to come to terms with the birth of her child, and hear from the stunned shepherds after their encounter with an angel.”
“#Mary Gabriel...what if I’m too scared?” a tweet on Saturday reads. “#Mary Fearful souls...we who walk in darkness, who live in distress...a great light is coming. Hold on. Hold on. Please.”
Kind said that his experience as a co-writer on the project has caused him to take a closer look at the real nativity.
"Many of our followers from last year told me Natwivity had helped them rediscover the story afresh because of the personal and, we hope comic, observations,” Kind said. “Tweeting the Nativity also really helped me think how this story might have unfolded at a personal level for such well-known characters."