22 June 2014

Last Sunday

Last Sunday was our Last Sunday in Finland. Vandriver and I were given a lovely send-off. They robed us in albs before four priests laid hands over us and prayed for us. Then our friends from the choir sang a special song for us. A final, really special moment for me was when our godson's parents suggested to him that he kneel at the communion rail not with them, as usual, but with us. He came and knelt next to me and I was able to show him my stoles that had been set on the altar during the Eucharistic prayer as a way of consecrating them to their use in my upcoming ministry.

06 May 2014

Godly Play ®

Did you know that the phrase, Godly Play, is a registered trademark?

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to train as a facilitator in a very different sort of activity. I'm not going to say what, because I don't want to distract you. Maybe I'll write a blog post about it in the future. The point right now is that part of my training for this other activity included a very serious talk about the fact that its name was trademarked.

Our trainer went so far as to encourage us to pronounce its name in our heads as ending with the letter R, to remind us that every time we wrote it we should add the ®. We were told that only upon completion of the training would we be allowed to use the name in the titles of our activities. Anyone who hadn't done the training had to say that they were working in the style of this activity (and even then, to add the ®).

(image source)


You know, I don't recall the topic of trademark coming up in my Godly Play® training. But now, having had the lecture, I think perhaps it should have. Partly, it's about giving credit to Jerome W. Berryman (who wrote the Godly Play® scripts and adapted this method of Christian education from the work of Maria Montessori, E.M. Standing, and Sofia Cavelletti along with Gianna Gobbi). But it's also about avoiding misunderstanding, about protecting this work from poor imitations.

I've seen blogs and websites whose authors seem to think that Godly Play® merely means using cute toys to act out Bible stories. I've run across people who assume that it must refer to any playful activity in church. I'll even admit that I've cringed at some practices I've seen by people who are at least using Jerome W. Berryman's scripts, but don't seem to understand the principles behind them. Of course it's a balance. I don't want to scare you off from giving Godly Play a try! But do please seek out a taster day, a training course, Berryman's books, and/or the official Godly Play® You-tube channel before you use the trademarked name.

I hereby announce that I've gone through my blog this week and revised several sections, adding the ® symbol.

04 May 2014

from sheep to shepherd

In some church calendars today is Good Shepherd Sunday. Our pastor's sermon included a section about how the word pastor is from the Latin word for "shepherd". And it reminded me of a Godly Play moment that I experienced earlier this Spring.

I was in the circle, listening to someone else tell the stories of the lesson, Knowing Jesus in a New Way. There are a lot of parallels between this lesson and The Faces of Easter. Both are a series of episodes which can be presented week by week or all at once. Neither set of materials includes figures to be moved around, but rather a series of pictures placed on an underlay which is unrolled further with each episode. Both end not with verbal wondering, but with an invitation to find something in the room to bring and place alongside the story materials, "to help us tell more". 



The stories in Knowing Jesus in a New Way are the resurrection appearances of Jesus. One episode of the lesson is the last story from Matthew's Gospel, where Jesus gives the eleven disciples the Great Commission. The Godly Play script ends like this.

As they walked back south to Jerusalem, they knew they had been followers, now they were to be leaders. They had been sheep, now they were to be shepherds. 

Jerome W. Berryman, The Complete Guide to Godly Play, Vol 8, p. 114

As I listened, it struck me quite forcibly that the same is true of me. I have been formally training for ministry for almost three years. At the end of June, Lord willing, I will be ordained as a deacon in the Church of England. I will resign from my present job (I gave notice already at the end of December), and Vandriver and I will move to England where I'll take up the post of "assistant curate" - a three-year, on-the-job, ministerial training post. The expectation is that I'll be ordained as a priest in 2015. 

Our storyteller told all seven episodes, so we had to choose not only whether to get something to bring into the circle, and what that would be, but also which picture we wanted to expand upon. For me that day, the decisions were easy. I brought the priest from the World Communion materials, and carefully placed it next to the disciples. 


23 April 2014

two children and Our Story

I'm a little nervous about sharing this first story. I don't want to shame anyone, but perhaps to criticize the way Facebook chooses what stories to prioritize for us...

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licensed photo by williac
On Sunday one of my Facebook friends posted a montage of four photographs with an Easter greeting written across the whole. Two pictures were family groupings, one showed their Easter eggs, and one showed the oldest son reading. Alas, what Facebook showed his grandmother was his mother's teasing comments about the boy's father "boozing" it up, beside a photograph of the Bloody Mary the man had ordered with his Easter brunch.

But, I said, did you see the photograph of N? 

--I saw the picture of him posing with his uncle and the Easter Bunny after brunch ...

No. The picture of him reading, in his father's Easter montage. The reflective finish on the top edges of the pages, the black leather binding, the two-column layout, and the glimpse of a marker ribbon all signal - this is a Bible. Even just a second glance reveals that he is reading the end of a book within this Bible. The resolution of the picture won't permit me to see which the following book's title is, but I can see that he's about three-quarters of the way through the Bible. As if I hadn't already surmised that he was reading the Resurrection narrative from one of the Gospels!

It's a story important to his father, important to his grandmother, important to the holiday. And the boy read it out to his family before brunch.

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Our godson's little sister knows that I am pleased to see children enjoying spiritual things, so when we dropped by their house on Easter Day to deliver an Easter basket (really a small gift bag) to her big brother, she ran and met me at the door with the Jesus Storybook Bible.

She opened it to show me the page with Jesus carrying the cross.

from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones & Jago

I said, That looks like a Good Friday picture! What's today? And she excitedly flipped forward a few pages until she found the first page of the Resurrection story, with a picture of three women carrying jars and cloths towards tomb, which we see in the distance with the stone already rolled away. 

I don't really know whether she showed me these pictures because they are important to her, or because she knows they are important to me. In one sense it doesn't matter, because I think for her what "church" is - is interaction with the family of God. In showing me the book she was maintaining our relationship as much as she was affirming our shared faith. Maybe for her the two are inseparable: the relationships within the body of Christ and the relationship of all those parts with the head. 

04 April 2014

slow progress on the Bible cards

I ran into a snag with the Bible cards - I was unable to figure out what the print settings had been the first time and so I seemed unable to print out the same size again. Today, though, our godson came for a visit and asked whether I had "the rest" of the cards ready yet. Not by a long shot! But that did prompt a long printing session, at the end of which, by trial and error, we managed to print out cards which were only about 5% bigger than the originals. 


So that's Hebrews and Jeremiah added. I chose those books because the Church of England lectionary has us working through Hebrews at the moment in Morning Prayer, and Jeremiah at Evening Prayer. And I'm pleased to say that doing this little project has helped me with that!