Yes, a donkey at Christmas or Palm Sunday, but llamas for Epiphany?
For the second year running All Saints, Clifton invited two rescue llamas, Olly and Gollie from the heart of Exeter, to feature as camels alongside two wise men and a wise woman in its all inclusive, collaborative Epiphany Party.
Cath Leighton from the church reflected on how the celebration went:
"The party took our celebration into the heart of the local community. Epiphany is one of many activities in the All Saints diary that highlights the church going out, visibly and with purpose, into the local community. This is one aspect of our engagement with God's Mission.
"In true All Saints style, the celebrations began with a well-co-ordinated procession. What fun to process from St Johns Primary School, down Whiteladies Road, the busiest part of the parish, and back round to the church with our own little star to guide us. Not only did our Magi and camels look magnificent in their attire, so too did our incumbent Fr Charles Sutton adorned in cassock and cloak, with the addition of his new Canterbury Cap! The faces of passers by and those sitting in cafes were absolute pictures as cups paused mid way with jaws hitting the table! Even better was the constant window-shopping as the llamas insisted on having a good look at what was available! Engaging with the locals out for the afternoon was great fun.
"Engagement was virtual as well as real. Over eighteen hundred people were reached through this one event on our Facebook page. Events like this are an important aspect of the All Saints outreach.
"Questions like What are you doing? or Hasnt Christmas finished?, were very much on the agenda as we paused outside the Sainsburys shopping centre. Some of those we spoke to joined the procession, and numerous phones were grabbed eager to capture a picture or selfie of the elegant poses of the camels!
"Once the church was reached, the beginning of the service was put on hold, much to the amusement of those waiting to process into church. A toilet stop for the camels was needed there is nothing like working with animals. Maggie of course was on hand with her bucket and spade, then the procession could continue.
"As the regal party and camels followed the star around the church, all who had joined the procession followed on to learn more of the journey of these three wise persons. It was very encouraging to see those who had been invited to join us in person come into church for the service too; a service which was tailored by the All Saints family for all our local families.
"In a short performance the three wise people, ordinands from Trinity College, acted out their journey from the East to find the new-born King; at times memories of Monty Python and coconuts came to mind!
"The congregation made their own crowns and we talked about how we are also kings and queens, and that we too have gifts to give. Jesus was God's gift to the world, how do we reflect the great love shown in this gift in what we bring to the world. Each person lit a candle to represent our own gifts.
"We then processed out of church and into the Atrium to find a wonderful spread of food and drink; thanks as always to our awesome Entertainment Team, a feast fit for all the kings and queens.
"A fabulous Epiphany party for all the community. We cant wait for next year!"