'Natwivity' Brings Birth of Jesus to Social Media

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It's a story that's been told for over 2000 years in the same, well-preserved way -- Joseph and Mary's journey to bring the baby Jesus Christ into the world. However, as busy shoppers up and down the United Kingdom pass the traditional street Nativity scenes, the story of Christmas is coming to social networking phenomenons Twitter and Facebook in the form of Natwivity.

Throughout Advent, a time of waiting and preparing for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, people can follow characters like Mary, Joseph, and the wise men and shepherds, telling the Christmas story in "tweets," those short, 140-character messages used on on Twitter. The "tweets" are sent by characters in the Christmas story, sharing their thoughts as they take part in the greatest story ever told. In one "tweet," Joseph announced he's on his way to Bethlehem for the census.

Natwivity is the brainchild of Huw Tyler with Share Creative, a Christian organization.

Tyler said it's a fun way of re-connecting people to the true story of Christmas.

"So we decided to do this creatively using these sites Facebook and Twitter to really engage on a different level with this story," Tyler said. "We know it so well through the Bible and how we explore it in church. But this actually gives us an opportunity to engage with it on an emotional level. To find out more about the characters as they 'tweet' and they status update their story as that unfolds."

Tyler said as so many people spend hours on Twitter and Facebook, it's vital for Christians to maximize this opportunity to share their faith.

"Social media is a great opportunity to be able to reach out and find a new audience," he added. "There are absolutely millions of people using these sites. And so it's a really good way of building community and extending that reach of the church to a whole new level."

The script for the Twitter Nativity has been written by a team of writers including popular, British Christian stand up comedian, Paul Korensa.

"I just thought it was a fascinating look at new media and a great way of linking up Twitter and Facebook, this new area that people are slowly getting involved in and doing some creative writing, particularly comedically," Korensa said. "Comedy writing is my background and I thought it was a great way of connecting with people particularly at Christmas."

Since Natwivity was launched at the beginning of Advent Dec. 1, thousands have signed up to following this social networking outreach. Crystal Chamki loves following the Natwivity "tweets" each day.

"When I've been following the characters in the Natwivity, they've suddenly become real people," Chamki said. "Once upon a time they were a single dimensional people that you read in a book, maybe with a little bit of background, but here you're getting real people."

Chamki believed this was great way to communicate the Christmas message to many more people like her.

"I certainly invited all my non-Christian friends to have a read and the opportunity to follow this story," she added. "I think it is very effective because it is making the nativity real in people's lives, so that people can relate to these individuals who are feeling real things."

As the Share Creative team continues to "tweet" the Christmas message throughout Advent, it's hoped Natwivity will enable many people to connect with the true Saviour of the world this month.

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Peter Wooding

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