18 August 2015

on worship and play

High up on the list of things that hinder worship is the idea that there's some particular way to be good at it, that one can be more or less effective... 

(licensed photo)

Worship is simply the Christian word for the joy of existence.

(Giles Fraser, on "Thought for the Day")

31 July 2015

Wonder of the week

One gift that Godly Play gives to adults can be to reconnect them with a sense of wonder. What gives you a sense of wonder? From time to time I am freshly awed by the way bodies can heal themselves.

I had a blood test a week or so ago, and have a colorful bruise as a result. Then I walked too close past a neighbor's shrub and got two parallel scratches across my lower arm. But they are fading, and the lower one would already be very difficult to see without the first one. Soon there will be no trace of either scratch, nor of the bruise.

Sometimes I imagine what it would be like if we were like dolls or other objects that chip and get stained and cracked. Of course, I know that some things don't heal to the point that they are like new again, and we carry scars. But the fact that we heal at all is a source of wonder to me.

22 May 2015

excitement about things to come

Vandriver and I moved house this week. This is our sixth move in three years and not one we were expecting. So, although we are very happy to be here, the move has been both physically and emotionally grueling.

But here is one of the reasons I am happy to be here: we looked at the layout of our new house and the ways we used our most recent house, and decided that here we'd use one of the upstairs bedrooms as our sitting room, and the ground floor "living room" as a theological library and Godly Play room!

I am so excited by this prospect! So much so that it's the room I most want to unpack and set up. Here's where I'm up to so far. (Nothing is yet organised; I'm still just getting things out of boxes and onto shelves.)

10 April 2015


I am feeling a little sorry for myself today. Lovely pictures of this weekend's Godly Play® UK annual conference keep appearing in my Facebook feed, and I am not there. I would so much have loved to put myself forward as a potential Godly Play Advocate (for which they were doing training today)!

But for various reasons, all related to being a curate (a trainee minister), I was unable to attend.

However, I did have a nice Godly Play® encounter today and I am trying to tell myself I should focus on that (rather than dwelling on feeling sorry for myself missing the conference and Advocate training).

Today, for the first time, I made a "baptism visit". That is to say, I met with a young family who will have their 8-month-old baptised in our church. They have an older child, a girl who is in "Reception" (similar to American Kindergarden), who has already been baptised. However, as is the case with many families seeking baptism in the Church of England, they do not regularly attend our church. I decided that what I would do at this meeting was to present the Godly Play baptism lesson.

I explained to the mother (the father was at work) that this was aimed at the older daughter, but that it was also for her (the mother) and that at the end of it I would ask her about whether there was a particular hymn she'd like at the baptism. And we sat down on the living room floor.

I didn't feel there was really time to settle down, but trusted that the lesson itself would gradually settle us. It did, although it took a while. The mother interrupted near the beginning to ask, "Is this how the baptism itself is going to be?" and I explained that no, this was just to lay the groundwork for them. With the baby crawling about, I didn't leave all the symbols on all the circles, but put them down one at a time, and then once I'd used each one I removed it to the coffee table.

it never looked like this today

But by the time I got the doll out, we were still and focussed. Mum had corralled the baby into her lap when I lit the Christ candle, and the older sister had settled into the mode of watching a presentation or hearing a story.

I asked what we should name the baby and looked at them, and the girl suggested, "Rosie". She looked ever so pleased when I said (straight from the script), "Rosie. That's a good name." And I showed how I would baptise the baby, and lit tea lights for each of us, and then we changed the light and spent a long time watching the smoke (the invisible light of Christ!) rising into the air.

What have I taken away from this? And what have they? In addition to the little lesson or reminder about our Trinitarian God, I believe I gave the sister a framework from which to follow the baby's baptism service, and I think the gentle demonstration prepared both Mum and sister to expect something reverent. And it's made me realise how much I want to try to carve out the time at the font (the baptism and then an anointing with oil) as a reverent time within any baptism service. I don't feel that's something I've done as well (or as consciously) as I'd like at baptisms I've done previously.

04 April 2015

Wondering about the Way of the Cross

Yesterday evening I attended a Way of the Cross service. We were invited to gaze upon modern paintings of the traditional stations of the cross, while two ministers read descriptions of the paintings, verses from Scripture, meditations, and short prayers (from A Journey to the Cross by Maureen Pamphilon).

paintings by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey

It was nicely done, and I found it a helpful Good Friday devotion. But I did find myself wishing that we might be asked, I wonder which painting you liked best? and What do you need to do now as your response to this? That just shows how steeped in Godly Play®  I am!