02 March 2011

Boxing Day

[This is the last in a series of posts about our first Godly Play sessions, last December, in my own house.]

Christmas Day last year fell on a Saturday, and our pastor chose to have a service on Christmas Day rather than on Boxing Day. So on the fourth Sunday of Advent, I had asked Vandriver to make an announcement at church inviting folks to join us at our house on the following Sunday, Boxing Day, where we had Junior Church for all ages.

By this time, the child owner of our alternative nativity set had been given additional figures, including a shepherd, two sheep, and three wise men. 

photo from my friend, stf
It was interesting to watch the interaction of adults (who felt obliged to keep their children in line) and children (who knew the rules and customs of Junior Church). The children started right away to replace my nativity set with theirs.
The parents said, No no. Leave it alone. 
I said, The children are right - that is how we begin.
I made my own blunder, however, when one child pulled out another wooden toy. I acknowledged what it was, but said, too quickly and dismissively, but that doesn't belong here. The child was very upset, and later the mother explained that they had created a little story at home about why that extra toy was in Bethlehem. I still don't think I'd have wanted that toy on the focal shelf, but I do have to learn to be more willing to interrupt myself to listen properly to what the children have to say. 

I presented the Advent IV lesson, with the addition of a feature from the "Children's Liturgy for Christmas Eve", which was to ask everyone to sing the first verse of an appropriately themed Christmas carol while I fetched the figures and lit each candle. In this lesson, I "revealed" what the children had already discovered for themselves, that the fifth section of the underlay is white instead of purple. I had no time to ask what was missing (as recommended in the script), before one child scrambled right down off the parent's lap to fetch the Christ candle for me! 

We went straight from the lesson into something in between a Godly Play feast and a post-church coffee time, where again there was a mismatch between adults' and children's expectations - one child carefully opened napkins into Godly Play "tables" on the floor in front of each person, which didn't work at all since most of the adults were sitting on chairs! 

I was also a little sorry to find out later that although I announced that people should feel free to ask to sing more carols or to work with materials during the coffee time, one adult told me later that is was too hard to do so. One child happily got some plasticine out, but the adult felt compelled to sit and sip a hot drink and chat with the other adults. I suppose one contributing factor is that my living room is so small - there was not really enough room to create an individual space to work in. 

My biggest regret about the evening (despite the lack of space!) was in not extending the invitation further. We got a phone call from one couple who had missed the announcement about there not being church, asking why nobody was at the church building. They didn't feel up to coming to our house at that point, but just went home again, disappointed. But for those of us who did come together, it was a warm and festive evening.

photo by stf :)

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous pictures! The Haba nativity set is also a neat idea. The thing I love the most is hearing about the unexpected things that happened with the kids. That's what I love about working with kids - things develop so organically and you never quite know what is about to happen or how things are going to turn out.


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