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Merry Christmas from TransformingTheChurch - 2014 Christmas Card

May this wonderful time of year touch you in a special way. May the meaning of Christmas fill your heart and home with many blessings. May its glory, beauty and happiness linger throughout the year. 

About Our 2014 Christmas Card

2012_christmas_card_200w.jpgIt is Bill Anderton's long-time tradition to make a short video production to serve as a Christmas card that will be used on our websites during Christmas. We are continuing the tradition with our 2014 Christmas production.

The practice of making video Christmas cards is a way to say Merry Christmas to our website visitors. Every year, Bill debuts the films at our Christmas party just before we leave for our Winter vacation. The video is then posted to our home page that day and it stays up during the days immediately before and after Christmas while we are on vacation and our offices are closed for Christmas. In the week leading up to the staff debut, we send it our in our Christmas e-mail notices and provide social media previews.

Typically, these videos are short productions of only a minute or two in duration. They are produced just for the fun of it with few creative restrictions. Historically, these videos have used a variety of techniques including beautifully photographed Christmas scenes, video from Christmas mission projects, animated still photographs of classical art, 2-D animations and our 2012 Christmas card was a full 3-D animation which was our most popular film to date.

Each year, the Christmas production seems to get a little larger and more ambitious because we simply enjoy working on these projects and they just kind'a grow as a result. Click here to see our 2012 Christmas Card.

These films are also used in Bill's Effective Online Ministries Community to teach church webmasters how high-quality original content can be produced on small or non-existent budgets. By design, as teaching examples, the maximum budget for all of our Christmas card films are less than $100 of out-of-pocket expense, including all rights-of-use licensing for things like our musical scores and copyrights. Instead of money, we use the sweat and creativity of our creative team; in our humble opinion, as it should be. Our Christmas cards make excellent examples for teaching.

This year's Christmas card is a departure from previous cards and is actually an original "wee film." In this year's film, Bill tells a cinematographic story of hearth and home at Christmas. "Hearth and home" is a phrase that refers not just to the physical structure of the house itself but to the life of the family in it. Add the traditional Christmas tree collected from the woods for the holy days celebrations and we have this year's theme.

In this year's video, Bill re-creates a personal memory from a Christmas many years ago. "Although I didn't shoot it at the time or even carry a camera that day, I did perform the essence of this film while in Vail, Colorado over Christmas in the mid-1970s. On Christmas Eve, I snow-shoed out, deep into the woods on a ranch owned by a friend where I had permission to harvest a Christmas tree. It was a solo hike, several miles in, well away from Vail Village or anything else. The silence and the stillness were amazing. One couldn't help but feel close to God in such a setting; in His cathedral of wilderness in the Rockies. The scene with the bald eagle that opens the film actually happened. At that time, eagles were very rare in Colorado so this was a blessing, On the way into the woods, I had stopped at the edge of a hay meadow to rest when I notice that perched atop a very tall tree at the far end of the clearing was an eagle. We stared at each other for a couple of minutes before he launched himself off the top of the tree and into a deep swooping dive. He dove almost to the ground of the clearing before leveling off and, hugging the ground about five feet above the snow, gliding toward where I stood. About 30 yards away, he turn and started slowly flapping his wings to ascend. An absolutely beautiful and impressive sight. I have often wondered if I hadn't disrupted his hunt for his Christmas Eve dinner in that meadow. He soared, circling high overhead, for much of the rest of my trip into the woods before leaving. Almost 40 years later, as the basis for this film, I drew upon the memory of this glorious afternoon of collecting a Christmas tree and the happy evening spent decorating it with my Vail "family" and the fellowship, food, wine and presents shared on Christmas Eve. The results are pretty close to my memory, complete with the tune of "The First Noel" playing in my mind as I hiked."

For the audio track, the practical sounds effects of the crunching snow under snow shoes are in the audio tracks from the actual video shoot. They are layered into the background of the musical score which is the carol "The First Noel."

The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay:
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far:
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel.

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from the country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

This star drew nigh to the north-west;
O'er Bethlehem it took it's rest,
And there it did both stop and stay,
Right over the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Then entered in those wise men three,
Fell reverently upon their knee,
And offered there in his presence
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the king of Israel.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.