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CLIP: 00:12:14 – 00:18:40
It is Christmas, and primary school teacher Paul Maddens is charged with producing the school’s Nativity play. Competing against the posh rival school for the honour of best-reviewed show in town, the stakes are raised when Paul boasts that his ex-girlfriend Jennifer, a Hollywood producer, is coming to see his show with a view to turning it into a film. The only trouble is they haven’t spoken in years. With eccentric assistant Mr Poppy fuelling his ‘little white lie’, Maddens suddenly becomes a local celebrity, finding himself at the centre of quarrelling parents and overexcited children, desperate in their bid for fame and fortune. Maddens’ only hope is to get back in touch with Jennifer and lure Hollywood into town so that everybody’s Christmas wishes can come true.
Although it initially received some poor reviews, Nativity continues to be a crowd-pleasing film ten years and three sequels later, especially among younger viewers.
The clip for this session sees Mr Maddens and Mr Poppy taking a road trip to collect a Christmas tree for the school. There is obvious disdain from Mr Maddens with regard to both Christmas and Mr Poppy, though Mr Poppy is completely unaware of this. While browsing for Christmas trees, Mr Maddens bumps into an old drama acquaintance called Gordon Shakespeare. Shakespeare is a pompous individual who works at a private school down the road from Mr Maddens. As they catch up, Shakespeare is condescending towards Maddens to such an extent that Maddens creates a lie that his ex-girlfriend will be returning to the UK with a Hollywood entourage to watch their nativity and turn it into a film production. This lie spirals quickly out of control when Mr Poppy overhears the conversation and tells the children back at school.
After showing the clips as a stimulus, break into small groups (you may wish to have a designated discussion leader in each group) and discuss the following questions:
- How would you describe the character of Gordon Shakespeare? Why is he such an unlikeable character?
- What does Paul Maddens do wrong in this clip, and how might it impact other characters in the film?
- What is so exciting to the children at the school? Should they be told the truth?
- Is it always wrong to lie?
After discussing these questions, read Ephesians 4:29 together, then return to your smaller groups and discuss the following questions:
- What might ‘unwholesome talk’ mean in this verse? (This is the phrase used by the NIV. If you’re using a different translation, substitute the words accordingly.)
- Why is it important to tell the truth?
- How can we ‘build up’ those we care about?
- Do you think this verse could support lying in some cases?
Nativity is now available to stream on Netflix.
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