25 April 2011

Faces of Easter (Easter Day)

For our congregation, the last Sunday of the month is "family service" - a communion service abridged for children, with a sermon aimed especially at them (or sometimes a craft in place of a sermon). The goal is that the whole congregation (not just young families) should attend. This year, Easter fell on the last Sunday of the month, and the pastor asked if I'd like to present the sermon to keep continuity with what we'd been doing in Junior Church. Another congregant then suggested I should organize the whole service as a Godly Play session. And that's what I did.

ready to begin (with the Lenten purple under the Holy Family)

I was really grateful to our pastor for being so flexible about this. Not least for carrying on with aplomb when one child finally decided he was ready to examine the Holy Family figures... in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer! Given that I'd placed all our focal shelf materials on the altar, you can see how some priests might have found this unnerving.

at the end of the service (Easter white)

For Finnish Lutherans, just as important as the liturgical color is the number of candles to be placed on the altar. Easter is a six-candle festival, so I needed to negotiate with the vaktmästare [caretaker] to make sure that those candles looked clearly different from the Christ Candle. I think the result was clear: six candles for Easter plus the Christ Candle for Godly Play.

thank you, Pastor, for this photo

Some things didn't work so well. Seethroughfaith warned me near the beginning that I needed to speak up, but as soon as I began to tell the story I forgot. (After all, my focus was on the materials, not on my audience!) Some of the time I was "competing" with a baby who was at that squeal-y stage of exploring its voice, as well as two tots who just could not stay still and quiet. Perhaps I should have asked if I could have a lapel microphone.

And I regret not cutting the summary of the earlier plaques right down to First we heard about how Jesus was born, and a story from when he was a boy, and then about when he was baptized... Since there were a number of children there completely new to this lesson, I gave slightly longer summaries, and walked around the circle showing everyone the plaques (mine are only 4x6 inches / 10x15 cm). But with Vandriver interpreting into Finnish for me, this meant that this already rather long story became twice as long. Too long.

Yet even those whose focus had been lost were startled back to attention when I suddenly cried out that the story shouldn't stay in a line and re-arranged it, and there was good response at the wondering. Then I handed out Easter cards, blank on the inside, and asked everyone to decide what it was important for them to do - draw a picture inside, write a poem, make it a card for someone else or a card for themselves... And folks of all ages really seemed to enjoy that.

thanks, seethroughfaith, for the Response Time photos


  1. grr wrote a LONG response and it didn't accept it

  2. Some real plusses too

    1. The way we sang 'thank you Lord for ... and then named everyone in the room (between us we did well!) ... we were not rushed and there was enough time. Everyone felt included. Everyone felt welcomed. Everyone felt they belonged. Well done.

    2. The young jr member who remembered that we hadn't been singing Hallelujah during lent and now we could. Wow

    3. The way you 'caught me ' with the 'I wonder ... if we could now have a song ... it really brought the story to life and it was great people getting into it and clapping along

    4. The other little one who gave me an ephiphany moment at the response time. (Will blog about that)

    5. The number of families who did come on a very sunny afternoon. It was GREAT.

    Yes the teaching could have been shorter. We live and learn ... and yes you would have needed to speak up and engage more (a mic alone might not have been enough ... I think it's different with the figures in godly but it's hard that you seemed to speak to the plaques and because there's little 'to see' until the plaque is before you it is harder to keep the attention.

    I think the faces of Jesus is wonderful but I am not sure it works as well as other stories and materials esp for young young children (as we have)

    But well done to you (and vandriver) and the priest who DID take it in her stride which was marvellous

  3. Storyteller, it sounds like it was a beautiful service! I especially love the Finnish traditions that you share like the number of candles being important.: ) Also, your idea for the creative phase was a great way to involve both children and adults.


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