We had a wonderful first day of Godly Play today. The title of today's lesson was "The Circle of The Church Year." It's one of my favorites as it kind of sets the context for the whole year. I love the way Jerome Berryman, the founder of Godly Play, talks about it in the lesson materials. He says, "Each year, the Christian people move through a circle of memory and expectation to open themselves to the elusive presence of God." In the Godly Play classroom, we pay attention to this circle of movement each week through the use of a cloth wall hanging that has different colored cloth "blocks" for each Sunday of the year and a golden arrow which moves from Sunday to Sunday. Today our story explored what the colors of this liturgical calendar mean and how the church uses it to tell "time."
You can scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a condensed version of the story I presented today as well as a link to another storyteller demonstrating the entire lesson should you wish to see it for yourself. The lesson materials for this story include a smaller wooden version of this liturgical calendar with small removable blocks painted to match and three arrows which point to the "three great times" or "mysteries" of the church year (Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.) Here you can see one of our students using the materials during creative response time to deconstruct and then reconstruct the calendar beginning with these three great times. Using the materials to retell or explore the story is one of the many options children may choose to "work with" during our creative response time.
Other children chose to explore working with the colors of the church calendar in other ways. Modeling clay was a popular choice today, with several children constructing different circular creations that they are planning to paint next week after they have dried. Others worked on stringing beads in these colors to match the church calendar so that they can have their very own church calendar at home. Our new oil pastels were another favorite material for exploring the colors and circular shape of the church calendar.
My favorite moments from today's lesson were not caught on camera. There were two things that I particularly enjoyed experiencing with the children today and both happened after the story was finished and even after the children finished their creative responses for today. As I was sitting in the service today listening to Pastor Eileen talk with the children about stewardship and then inviting them to offer their prayers for today I got goose bumps. Though I didn't get a chance to talk with Pastor Eileen between the Sunday School hour and the regular service, it was as if she was speaking to exactly the central issues that made today's session so successful and special.
While I didn't use the word stewardship with the children today, we talked about how our Godly Play room was a special place for them. And how it would be up to us to work together to take care of the beautiful art materials, the lovely glass pitcher and cups with which we share our feast, and, most importantly, of each other. And the children truly rose to the occasion, helping each other to restore work materials and clean up spills and scraps, carefully carrying small glasses (yes actually glass, glasses) of orange juice to our circle, politely thanking those children who served the snack, and even waiting patiently until all had been served.
Once we had all been seated and served, my second favorite part of the day happened. We have a small white candle in the classroom which we call our Christ candle. We light it at the beginning of our time together and ask that Christ be with us in our time together. Before we eat our feast we pass this candle very carefully around the circle and each child (and the adult story teller and guide) hold the candle for a moment and say a short prayer, either out loud or silently to themselves before saying "Amen" aloud and then passing it around the circle. Most of the children chose to pray silently, so I don't know exactly what they prayed for, but most did pause with the candle and think for a moment or two before finally saying Amen and passing the candle on, and every child was completely silent and respectful of each other during this time. The room truly felt blessed and alive and as if we were all starting a special and wonderful journey this year. I will repeat here the prayer I shared when the candle finally returned to me.
"Thank you God for each of these wonderful children and for the gift of spending time with them today."
Godly Play Team
Hannah Hannover, Minister to Children and Families and Genya Coffey, Christian Education Team Coordinator make up our current team of guides and storytellers. Both have attended workshops in order to receive certification from the Godly Play Foundation. They will take turns authoring the blog posts found here. Interested in joining the team? Be sure to let them know through the contact page.