The DVD features contemporary animation, a lively Franciscan Brother as narrator, scripture stories, and traditional Christmas music.
An accompanying coloring and activity book also offers something for families with kids up to middle school age or elementary religious education programs. It is available in English and Spanish, which adds to its versatility. Additional resources are available at brotherfrancisonline.com.
The point of the DVD is fairly simple: Christmas isn't ultimately about the material trappings or even just the celebratory atmosphere. Rather, it is about how God chose to enter into human history as told in Scripture.
The DVD does a good job of showing a contemporary example of how Christmas is more than just a birthday party (for Jesus). It also tells a longer Nativity Story that includes the parallel story of Joachim and Elizabeth and the birth of John the Baptist.
The DVD could be used repeatedly for various grades in a religious education program, but I wonder if an individual family would make use of it annually. The DVD does have an animated Christmas Choir performing two traditional Christmas Carols ("Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night") that could be used year to year.
Additionally, the coloring book and website offer added value with extended activities. While the catchy songs might be more appealing to younger kids and the longer scriptural narratives might be better for older kids, the DVD is divided into six chapters, which could help the user select the best segments for different groups or ages.
Obviously a DVD answering the question "What is Christmas about?" can't replace the actual season in its entirety, but it can be part of the experience and wonder. The scriptural depictions are probably the most valuable and enduring with the traditional carols being the most familiar. Brother Francis’ lively character provides viewers with thoughtful examples for different ages to consider.
It is wonderful that the “Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.” What can we do to make sure our children can also encounter Christ in the Flesh of our Franciscan brothers and sisters now and in the future?
Copyright 2013 Jay Cuasay
About the Author
Jay Cuasay is a freelance writer on religion, interfaith relations, and culture. A post-Vatican II Catholic father with a Jewish spouse, he is deeply influenced by Christian mysticism and Zen Buddhism. He was a regular columnist on Catholicism for examiner.com and a moderator and contributor to several groups on LinkedIn. His LTEs on film and Jewish Catholic relations have been published in America and Commonweal. Jay ministered to English and Spanish families at a Franciscan parish for 13 years. He can be reached at TribePlatypus.com.