18 March 2011

guest post: flying solo

Written by see-through faith on 13 March

flying solo ....

well not quite as I had a helper over at junior church today, but as the lady who usually leads jr church and who has introduced Godly play there wasn't there I was the leader this week. Her shoes are hard ones to fill, let me tell you, but I - and the kids - had a lot of fun and met with God in great and sometimes unexpected ways!

For those of you who aren't familiar with Godly play, the idea - from my perspective at least- is to make it possible for kids to experience and learn about God in different ways in a setting that is their church - i.e. not the grown ups' place. Ideally you'd have a special room set aside for just that purpose. But we don't live in ideal worlds, and so I love the way Storyteller has gone about creating that special sacred space where it also ok - very ok - to play in the journey to discovering God.

Every Sunday she spends a lot of time hauling stuff in (and out) to prepare the space for junior church. I didn't have time (or energy) to do that - so we ran with a sort of skeleton junior church this week. The boundaries were there as usual and the mats were there and the funny thing was that we started before I knew it because the little kids each found a mat, sat down and waited and suddently it was a go :)

There were two parts that carried most impact for me

Firstly there was the careful changing of the liturgical colours from green to purple (for we are now in Lent). That meant handling the holy family (nativity) figures and explaing simply who each one was. The 'liturgy' we use goes something like this
Here is the Christ child. See how he's holding out his arms to give you a hug. He was born. He grew up. He became a man. And he died on a cross. That's sad. But that's also wonderful in an Easter kind of way. Because now the Risen Christ can extend his arms and hug every one.
The kids really listened attentively to this part -and we looked at the liturgical colours - white (with gold) and red and green - and of course purple. That fitted in well with what they'd done last week which was learn about telling the time in church (i.e. the church year)

Usually they'd then have a lesson. I'm not up to that so I read a story about the miraculous catch of fish with lots of actions and times to reflect. I wonder how they felt. I wonder how many fish they caught. I wonder what Jesus meant by fishers of men. etc.

Then there was the response time.

Again the skeleton set up this week meant they had a choice, but not an awful lot. There was no parable box for example, or the baptism set, and horror of horrors no clay (playdough) or glitter glue. No fuss -simpler choices this week.

This was the second event that impacted me most

The youngest wanted a story - not the fish story again, but the one about the nativity. (a link to what I'd said about the holy family perhaps?) And then she wanted to 'do' the story of the good shepherd herself. She carefully got the things out and set it up and sort of did it herself with me close by. It was fun and lovely ... only then disaster struck. "Where's the bread and wine?" oops! You see I hadn't found those figures when unpacking the boxes (though I found them later) so we improvised (made a loaf out of card and a jug out of shiny paper) and she carefully took the Good shepherd the five sheep and priest at the altar along with all the people. So moving!


We finished with the feast (which I at least once called snack by mistake!) and then I read another story, this time about the good shepherd a different version with 100 sheep but one which put the parable into context. They liked it a lot

As usual we finished with communion and a blessing when the priest (finally) arrived. I couldnt' remember the song we usually sing so we sang thank you for this fine day. And it was a fine day and so blessed!

But I'm very glad storyteller will be back next Sunday, so I can go back to being a participant able to respond to the message in my own way and an adult who is privileged to be present at junior church and whose responsiblities are a) turning up in good time b) toilet /washing hands duties and c) preparing the snack feast (which the parents take turns in providing)!


  1. Thanks so much for this report, and for permission to post it here! It sounds like a wonderful and wonder-full session.


Thanks for conversing with me about Godly Play®! I do moderate some comments for the sake of the children I write about. Please be polite: to quote the Velveteen Rabbi, Whatever you're going to say in response to my posts, consider whether it's the sort of thing you would say to your host or their children if you'd been invited to someone's home for tea. If it isn't, then please don't say it here.

If you're new to commenting on blogs, I recommend that you "Comment as" Name/URL. You can use your real first name or a nickname. URL is the address of a website that you want to be linked with your name - feel free to leave it blank. Before your comment is accepted, you have to pass a spam filter. After clicking on 'post comment' or 'preview', just type in the sequence of letters you will then see (or click on the wheelchair for a recording of characters to type). Thanks for reading and commenting!