02 May 2011


This week I presented the Faces of Easter VII lesson for a second time, giving the children a chance to bring materials to the story, which we were unable to do on Easter Day.

Story materials brought to the circle: Trinity symbol and Baptism materials, the Presentation in the Temple, Christ candle, Advent materials

Vandriver said to me this morning, I wonder if there's any part of this story that we could leave out, and still have all the story we need? Well, Father Berryman seems to think we can leave out the Resurrection. 

He was partly joking, but it was also a comment on my frustration with this lesson. And it was a reminder that I have lots more I want to write about the tensions in wanting to honor Berryman's model, scripts, ethos, etc. while also needing to be true to my own understandings and beliefs. This post will likely only scratch the surface a bit more, but here it is.

The lesson asserts, Jesus had died on the cross, but somehow he was still with them, as he is with us, especially in the bread and the wine. But never does it say, He is risen. Left out of the story are the angels, Mary's encounter with Jesus in the garden, indeed any resurrection appearances at all. (Berryman has now finally released new lessons which may incorporate some of these post-resurrection appearances, "Knowing Jesus in a New Way", but for the time being, apart from part 1, the only way to get these texts is to buy a $200 package from the United States.)

My frustration was compounded by the fact that the picture on the final plaque in the German series I have been testing out, by Juliana Heidenreich, does not show Jesus at all. Instead there is a shaft of light, and a community of Christians sharing bread and wine. But I was not about to present a lesson which included no representation of the risen Christ in word or image, especially not on Easter Sunday!

What I ended up doing visually was faithful to my understanding of Berryman and still something I was comfortable with myself. I used the image of an icon of the Eucharist which includes representations of Jesus, grain and grapes, bread and wine, and a Gospel book or Bible.

I felt that this worked as a representation of the Risen Christ today, who, as we know from the Holy Family story, is no longer bound by space and time. It visually conveys Berryman's emphasis that Christ is present to us today in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. And it is so different from all the other plaques that it emphasizes the line about the fact that the Mystery of Easter changes everything.

As for the words of the story, I added one line of my own to the story of the women finding the empty tomb: Angels explained that Jesus had risen. I added the line Berryman uses in "Knowing Jesus" part 1: The tomb could not hold him, and then my own partial summary of ideas from the "Knowing Jesus" series: Over the next hours, and days, and weeks, Jesus' friends had to learn new ways to recognize Jesus - in the sound of his voice, in the breaking of bread, and in the memory of that empty tomb (which at first had seemed so sad). And these are still ways that we know Jesus today.


  1. Well done, Storyteller. I love the picture that you added. Where did you get the new picture? I was also quite frustrated that there was no visual of the Risen Jesus on Heidenreich's panels. The text you added fits quite well, too.

  2. Nice to have you back, Sheila! I have to confess that I just printed that icon out after a Google search.

  3. Ok third time ... (this time I signed in first!)

    A couple of things come to mind here storyteller

    1. I agree with you absolutely that on Easter Sunday you cannot stop with the Cross. To be faithful to scripture we have to move onto the resurrection and the Risen Christ. I love the way you adapted Berryman's work (and the plaques) and creatively ensured that we could see and experience that the end of the story was not the end. Well done.

    Sometimes it's really good to be reminded that it's not Berryman (or his vision) that we are to be faithful to. (and yes there's a tension in that!)

    2. I was horrified to read of the cost of the six (or seven) stories for Eastertide. I am all for supporting tent makers but it does seem an extortionate price. (When I looked I did find that it also included a stand for the materials and a felt underlay) but still ...

    It has encouraged me no end that here on this site you have modelled good stewardship ... using old secondhand things is cost effective and also environmentally friendly. I think that's good. And the things you have made (a labour of love) have also been beautiful and high quality ... there's been no 'loss' because you haven't chosen/had a budget to buy the official 'stuff'

    3. unrelated to this post. Thank you for pointing out to me the logic behind 3 D visual aids for the life of Jesus and 2 D for the parables. Hope you could tell more about that a bit sometime in a post. (Where do the church 'traditions' and 'sacraments' then fit into that logic? ...

    Thanks again for all you do. Faithful servant with a twinkle in her eye. No wonder God is pleased with you for who you are, not only for all you do!

  4. PS forgot to say

    it would be better (IMHO) if you could make the links open in a new page or a new tab - in that way it's easier to get back to your writing!

  5. Seethroughfaith, in Berryman's defense the lesson does NOT stop with the Crucifixion. Vandriver's comment was jokey and unfair in that regard. My difficulty is that Berryman presents the Resurrection in such a waffly way: "somehow he was still with them as he is with us".

  6. waffly ways are best avoided. I think you did it brilliantly (and all glory to God for that!)

  7. I love how you adapted the story! I don't know about Godly Play but Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is very much understood to be a work in progress, with observation of the children's reactions, meditations, and artwork as the last word on what is "working" with the children. You can't ever check your brain at the door and do it like it says in the book! Way to follow your brain and you heart on this! :)

  8. Hi there Storyteller and Leslie, Just to add to the conversation, it is unfortunately discouraged in most GP circles to deviate from the story at all. It is good and interesting to know that Catechesis is a "work in progress". I like that attitude much better.

  9. @seethroughfaith: I'm trying to go back through old posts and correct this, and trying to remember to do it in new posts... but unfortunately, I seem to have chosen a template which won't do it automatically. I have to go into the HTML each time. But thanks for letting me know!

  10. I love the conversation here!We've been doing Godly Play for about 16 years now. In the beginning, as we were learning and making materials and struggling, we would always say, "REMEMBER: There are no Godly Play Police!" Now I can't even remember where we picked that up. (We still say it, almost weekly...except now it's evolved to "Today no one had to go to the pokey...") We do what we have to do to make Godly Play work for us and for our congregations/physical space/time constraints/actual numbers and ages of children....

    We do have the lovely new post-resurrection stories - we are very fortunate. I did want to point out that the script for these stories is a little hardbound book of just those 7 stories, plus much of the introductory material of the other "Complete Guide to Godly Play" books. It is possible to purchase just the book for about $20.00 (USD).


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