07 March 2011

telling time by colors

Sunday’s lesson was The Circle of the Church Year, also sometimes called The Church Clock, or How the Church Tells Time. In many GP classrooms it is told early in September, but my children hadn’t heard it before, and I thought it would be a good lesson to pave the way for Lent. There’s loads in this lesson, including the three great festivals of the church, the truth that we need time to get ready to come close to a mystery, and a memorable name for the many Grreat Grreen Grrowing Sundays.

This is the only set of materials (so far) that I’ve bought ready-made from a Godly Play supplier. I bought them during the European Godly Play Conference from the German producerDifferent producers’ sets vary slightly (but importantly) in how many blocks of each color there are:

Jerome W. Berryman says, As you order the material or prepare this lesson, please adjust as needed to match the colors actually used in your church. Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to the Finnish-language version of this lesson to see how they present typical Finnish Lutheran practice. Instead I spent a lot of time poring over the appendix in the Finnish hymnal, trying to reconcile that with the fact that our Anglican priests’ practice is different both from Berryman’s and from the Lutherans’. And I needed a presentation that would be simple enough for the small children, without being incorrect enough to disturb the thirteen-year-old or my adult helper. (Not to mention a difficulty which nobody seems to address – that there are 52 blocks, but one of them is supposed to represent Christmas Day, which only rarely falls on a Sunday!) 

Here’s what I ended up doing: I followed Berryman in not referring explicitly to Epiphany. I said that Christmas, like Easter, cannot be contained in a single day, and used a single extra white block to represent that (without explicitly saying how long that white time lasted), while contrasting it with the many weeks of Eastertide. During this section I also tried to remember to use the blocks to represent weeks rather than Sundays.

my practice photo (roughly the final layout)
Do you know that Godly Play lessons and stories are always told by heart? I thought I had done pretty well on this one… until I realized that I'd completely skipped over and left out the part explaining what Pentecost is all about. Oops! But it was probably good to shorten it a bit, even if it was by accident. One of the children (at least one!) was getting antsy toward the end. On the other hand, though, two different children asked to work with these materials during our response time (the first time since moving to our new room that any children have chosen to work with the story materials). 

It was a pity to miss out on the Apostles glowing with the power of the Holy Spirit, but I think they got the message that For every beginning there is an ending, and for every ending there is a beginning.


  1. there are 52 blocks, but one of them is supposed to represent Christmas Day, which only rarely falls on a Sunday! interesting point

    as for Pentecost. I once heard someone say that the Holy Spirit often gets forgotten. Like the full stop on the end of the in the name of the Father, Son and ....

    but we will celebrate Pentecost and there's time for the clock another time :) Rome wasn't built in a Day and we take a life time to learn only a glimmer of God :)

    well done for helping the kids to explore the relation to the colours used in liturgy and the church year.

  2. I'm in the middle of painting a circle kit from St. Michael's workshop. I made a cardboard one, but it is really nice to have the wood! We've done this lesson a few times in the past year and Pentecost is the kid's favorite part - they love it when I touch it and move back quickly to the words "Red Hot Pentecost!" It will be fun for your children when you add that bit in next time - something new is always a good thing.


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