It also seemed like fun.
Fun won and so the scene was set:
- long, suitably lenten purple cloth [with flowers from the previous week decorating the first section]
- a small tent, on cloth, by flowers,
- prior to worship, everyone handed a coloured plastic ball with the order of service
- several dubious signs with 'ooooh', 'aaaah', 'baaaa', 'phew', and 'stomp feet'
- a group of incredibly cooperative and fun kids
- a congregation who are wonderfully long-suffering and who have a fabulous sense of the ridiculous
As part of an ongoing collage aimed to last over Lent, there was I, Sunday morning, sitting on the chancel steps at 'leafy parish in the burgh', with the young 'uns.
We'd been listening to the reading about God's call to Abram to up and leave, destination unknown. I do love the honesty of children: when I wondered if any of them might have listened to the reading, several did say 'no', and a couple said 'sort of'. They'd managed to listen well enough to work out the gist of the story, and that was the main thing.
Part the First: I wondered if we might retell the story, making particular use of sound effects - cue signs as per above list.
I further wondered whether those sitting in the seats might make passable sheep noises... they were really rather excellent at this. And so, we re-told the story together - pointing at various signs on the way, listening to the 'ooohs' and the 'aaahs', not to mention the 'baaahs'.
Part the Second: as we collapsed on the stairs from our story telling exertions, I mentioned the plastic balls. Knowing that to avoid sniggers I needed to be quite specific in my articulations, I noted that these were 'journey balls' and we talked a little of those things that helped/ didn't help us become closer to God. I invited the congregation to hold their 'journey' balls and reflect quietly on their journey with God.
All was quiet - even the kids... miraculously, no balls were used as missiles.
We then prayed.
Part the Third: having happily remembered to grab some large plastic bins, the kids then collected the 'journey' balls and threw them in the bi... er, gently placed them in the 'journey' ball receptacles, while we sang 'one more step'. The balls were put into the tent, through holes in the top, or by small people throwing themselves bodily inside said tent.
[No broken bones is always a good sign of a successful all-age address]
And there they'll stay until Easter - the balls, not the kids - a colourful reminder that as we journey with God, we are not alone - we are in this together.
Finis: I love it when a plan comes together.
I also love it when folks get that 'reflective' and 'playful' don't have to be mutually exclusive.
I also love it when the people on the following weeks have to deal with tents and coloured balls and I will have fled the country to Switzerland... :)