27 February 2011

Advent - the focal shelf

[I've travelled back in time, to tell about our first Godly Play sessions, last December, in my own house.]

On the second Sunday in December, the third Sunday of Advent, the two children returned. It was a little difficult to get them settled down before the story, but as soon as it began, it captured their attention beautifully. I had asked them to bring their own nativity set, since mine has no sheep or shepherds. (Theirs had none either, but I knew it had an angel, which commemorates the same event.)

So the first thing we did was to carefully move my nativity set to its stable on another table, and set theirs up on the focal shelf. This time, when I said that Junior Church was over and they could play freely, I was fully prepared to bring out toy trains or legos... but the first child asked very tentatively to play with the Advent materials. Of course! I replied, thrilled.

Then the other child wanted to do the same. Well, you'll have to ask N. If N wants to work alone then you'll have to do something else. The reply from the first child was so quiet we could hardly hear it, Want to work alone. With no fuss, the second child and I curled up on the couch together to read Bible storybooks instead. Out of the corner of my eye while reading the books aloud, I could see the first child carefully unroll the underlay, and place all the plaques in the right places.

That's the end of that week's story, but for the Godly Play die-hards, I thought I'd add a picture of our focal shelf. Everything on it, apart from the Christ candle, had been used before in Junior Church. (Well, the Advent materials and Holy Family had been new the previous week.) On the floor are table cloths for the other seasons. On the bottom shelf: a few storybooks (which we had read in previous months), materials for the story of the flood, and the gold box containing the parable of the Good Shepherd. The top left shelf held the Advent materials, and the top right the Lent or Palm Sunday story from Young Children and Worship, "Jesus the King". [It only occurred to me in January that it would have made better sense to place the Holy Family in the center, as they are on most focal shelves, and put the risen Christ cross above the Lent materials.]

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