25 March 2014

Happy Annunciation Day

As I mentioned in my last blog post, today is Annunciation Day - when we remember the Angel Gabriel's visit to Mary and Mary's acceptance of God's call on her.

Yesterday I made a brief visit to an after-school centre run for first- and second-graders so they won't be at home alone while their parents are at work. I noticed that they seemed to have a little worship area!

It looked similar to a prayer table in a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium. I was also interested because in my Church of England theological studies we just recently been learning about the requirements for "collective worship" in English schools. I asked a few questions of the child I was visiting, but in my excitement I asked too many yes/no questions and too few open-ended questions. *sigh* Still, what I've understood is that they have a little worship time almost every day. It includes a Bible story and a prayer (at least).

The current theme clearly was the Annunciation.

The whole wall above this table was covered with angels. This one was made by the boy I was visiting:

23 March 2014

storybook Sunday

In the sermon slot today, I read a story to the congregation. Do any of you recognize the book? Or can you guess what I might have been reading today?

Tuesday will be the 25th, nine months before Christmas, which makes it Annunciation Day. The Finnish Lutherans celebrate it on the nearest Sunday. It's a six-candle day! I read the story of the Annunciation (and Mary's Visitation to Elizabeth) as told by Madeleine L'Engle in The Glorious Impossible, with illustrations by Giotto. Any fully-equipped Godly Play classroom will have at least some of the illustrations from this book among the materials for The Mystery of Christmas, and some also have a copy of the full book as well.

It was a little clumsier than I expected to try to hold the book so people could see it and read at the same time... especially to swivel back and forth so everyone had the opportunity to see! But it was fun to glance up at the congregation from time to time (something I do not do as a Godly Play storyteller) and see how people were responding. One woman leant over and rested her head on her husband's shoulder as she listened.

*     *     *     *     *

Also today, I was given another storybook by a member of our congregation who is getting ready to move house and having a clear-out. It is called The Splendour Book of Bible Stories reinterpreted by Shirley Goulden. It is interestingly similar to L'Engle's book in being an illustrated retelling of Biblical narrative. In this case, the illustrations are contemporary with the retelling (1970), and not all in the same style, being by four different artists: Nicole Claveloux, Charles-Louis LaSalle, Loup, and Jean-Claude Perrouin. Here is a part of the illustration for the Tower of Babel

What fun! Thank you! 

16 March 2014

Bible cards

A project I have underway is the creation of a set of cards for the books of the Bible. I am making this for one of our godsons, since he is at an age where he is very interested in collecting cards with bits of information on them - cards for the Magic game, for example (or baseball cards, to use an example I find easier to relate to!). 

I plan to use a second set as part of the materials for the Godly Play enrichment lesson about the Books of the Bible. I used the Keynote software (similar to Powerpoint) to design them, then printed and laminated them. The face of each card shows two pictures representing stories from the book (using the wonderful resource of Bible illustrations from Sweet Publishing), and the Gospels also show the symbols associated with each evangelist (with Luke's symbol repeated on the Acts card). Each card also has a quote from the book, a single phrase which sums up something distinctive or important about the contents.

Today I delivered the first batch - just six: four Gospel cards, one for the book of Acts, and one Old Testament book. All six are green, for narrative history. I tried to make the Gospel cards a different shade of green but that didn't show up as well as I'd hoped.

We looked together at the tables of contents of two complete Bibles (of very different sizes and layouts), and one which contained only the New Testament and Psalms. One Bible listed the books twice, once by the order in which they appear in the Bible and once in alphabetical order. My godson then went off by himself. He laid the cards out and organised them by their numbers (the order of the books of the Bible). Then he attempted to re-order them into alphabetical order. Later, using information on the backs of the cards, he might try ordering them by date of [estimated] composition, or the relative chronology of the events they describe (his parents will probably have to explain BC dating again!). 
What I also wanted to do, though, was to tie these cards firmly to the Bible and its contents. So I showed him that in his Jesus Storybook Bible there is a note at the beginning of each story saying which book (and chapter(s)) the story is taken from. And then, without him looking, I slid the cards into a Bible so that each card marked the place its book began. When he searched for them it reinforced the fact that the Gospels are found all together, three quarters of the way through the volume, while the Old Testament histories are much further toward the front. 

I'm providing several extra bits of information on the backs (which is why I've only finished six so far). But the description of the Godly Play cards by Jerome W. Berryman (in vol 2 of The Complete Guide to Godly Play) is that there's relatively little information on each card - just "one or two sentences about the content of each book", and a color-coding to show which genre the book belongs to. So if you set out to make your own, they needn't be as elaborate or time-consuming as mine. 

03 March 2014

lessons learned (Lent)

Yesterday it struck me that the pastor and I hadn't discussed which of us might provide a children's sermon, if needed, for our service that afternoon. Inspired by Sheila's good reports of The Mystery of Easter, I rushed a cross puzzle into production.

Before I began, I read the script (from The Complete Guide to Godly Play, Vol. 4) onto a recording which I then listened to as I worked. Once I'd finished, I listened once or twice more while I physically acted out the lesson, moving the pieces around, and finally tried it without the recording, speaking the script myself. Way back in training we tried that, having one person read the script while another moved the pieces, but I'd never tried using a recording of myself for practice before!

The materials were far from ideal. I cut a cross out of cardboard packing material from our recycling pile. Having no paint to hand, I used magazine clippings of purple on one side, and white felt on the other.

Lessons learned? I liked this method of practicing the script. But I would not use felt as a covering for this cross again. You can see the white puffing out from underneath even when the purple sides are turned up. Moreover, it prevented the pieces from slotting together as nicely as I'd have liked them to.

In the end, we had no children at church and I didn't present the lesson. But you know what? For one-time use, in a pinch, I was much happier to have far-less-than-perfect materials than not to have had any at all. I enjoyed this little project as a Sunday task, and I felt good having something to offer children if any had come along.

I've heard it said, "Perfect" is the enemy of "Done". Godly Play materials should always be made with love, as beautifully as you can. Really, they should be as good in quality as the objects you use for liturgical purposes for adults (as nice as your chalice or communion trays, as nice as the Bible on your lectern). But don't let that ideal prevent you from doing the best you can.