Friday, January 25, 2013

Godly Play: Holy Spirit Script

Various scripts exist for the wonderful Godly Play (a religious teaching resource for children's work based on Montessori style educational techniques). Over the years I've used it with all age groups from 3-90, including University professors!

However there isn't a script for exploring the concept of the Holy Spirit, so I've written my own. In outline, here it is.

You need:
  • 7 (or more) golden boxes. Can be of any size, based on whatever has to fit inside them.
  • 7 (or more) objects. Currently I have: water in a bottle and a glass; candle and matches; olive oil in a container; a red-painted heart-shaped box containing a stone; some lego; a battery; a baby's cuddly blanket; a small portable hand-help electric fan. But you could adapt/add your own. Place one in each box.
  • 7 (or more) Bible verses which mention the spirit (listed below or pick your own), one placed in each box with the related object.

How to do it:

(Start with the basic Godly Play beginning of gathering the participants in a circle sat on the floor, perhaps removing shoes first. You are sat on one side of the circles with the boxes in front of you. Arrange it so everyone sat in the circle can see you. Welcome everyone with a smile.)

Leader (modify as you wish...): "Today we're exploring the Holy Spirit, but this isn't very easy because God's Spirit can be rather difficult to imagine. People could see Jesus, and we can read stories about him, but the Spirit is rather different.

Fortunately the Bible gives us various images for the Spirit, and we're going to explore those today. Now I wonder who'd like to start by opening a box?"

(Choose a volunteer to pick a box and to open it. You may need to help them describe the object. Some objects can be 'used', e.g. light the candle, feel/smell the oil, pour and taste some of the water. Then get the volunteer to put the object on top of the close box in the centre so all can see, and to read out aloud the Bible verse.)

Example: a person chooses the box with the candle and matches.

(Encourage the person to examine, feel, smell the object as appropriate.)

Leader: "So what have you got there? Can you tell people? Now, could you light the candle? (may need help or have the matches yourself!) Thank you - can you place it on the box, and read the verse, please?"

(Volunteer reads the verse)

Leader: "I wonder why fire is a good image for the Spirit?"

(Encourage and prompt the group, using reflective and affirming responses. Ideas might emerge such as "it gives warmth", "it stops darkness"; thinking more laterally ideas of cooking (changing the unpalatable into something edible); its entrancing nature; its riskiness; purifying etc. may emerge. With each idea, reflect back the image/idea to unpack what it adds to our understanding of the Spirit e.g.  "I wonder how the Spirit give you warmth...?")

(Work through all the boxes one by one with the verses below. Some may be more difficult than others - the Lego can be particularly interesting, raising the idea that all creativity, whether acknowledged as such or not, originates in God. At the end you might finish with a question:)

Leader: "I wonder if you have a favourite image for the Holy Spirit?"

(The session then might continue with craft...)

Supplementary Material:
(change verses and translations as appropriate; use these or other objects)

  • water in a bottle and glass - "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring." (Isaiah 44:3)
  • candle and matches - "And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:2-4a)
  • olive oil in a container (I use my silver oil stock for anointing the sick) - "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. (1 Samuel 16:13)
  • a red-painted heart shaped box containing a stone - "A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26)
  • some lego - "I have called ... Bezalel  ... of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with divine spirit, with ability, intelligence, and knowledge in every kind of craft, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, in every kind of craft." (Exodus 31:2-5)
  • a battery - "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8a - or 2 Timothy 1:7)
  • a baby's cuddly blanket - "But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you." (John 14:26 NB various other translations have advocate etc.)
  • a small portable hand-held electric fan - "The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life." (Job 33:4) and/or "The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8).

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Poem (apophatic)

Not, the bejewelled whiteness of water drops
     lantern lifted, simply offered on soft stems.
Not, the silken lines of spider threads lifted on the air.
Not, the soft brown brush of
     tall-columned trees beneath high clouds.
Not, the noble singing gleam of quartz-cut stone
     reflecting light.
Not, warm kissing of skin by majestic
     sun in blessed blue sky.
Not, clear cold air crisp-entering nostrils.
Not, warm touch of flesh-embrace, blushed skin
     met, enfolded.

None; of these glorious things are you.



Written on retreat at Cold Ash Franciscan community, Nov 2012.

(Note: the poem is an attempt to marry Franciscan and Carmelite traditions. 'Apophatic' theology emphasizes that God is beyond all description - for 'not' cf. John of the Cross's nada. And yet NB the semi-colon on the last line, and the ambiguity of the word 'of'...)


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