Yesterday, I had the opportunity to test out the first edition of a new story for our PlayFull Faith series.
The first of the series is a story about creation that features, among other images…
…a God who dances
…the color of light
…the light of color
…space and time
…frames and fillers
…rest and work.
I conducted revisions along the way after testing the story out with various groups: children of all ages, adults, and youth. So far, the creation story has been told to seven different groups and each time I’ve been delighted to see it encourage worship-filled conversation.
This new story provides a summary of the Christ-event, the new beginning. It begins in the same place as the creation story: with an image of God dancing.
In the first story, a large black circle is laid out and the storyteller moves his or her fingers in a dancing motion to signify a leaping, joyful God. “Everything that is came from this dance of joy,” the story says.
The Christ-event story begins with a small black circle, almost too small for dancing—but there is still enough room for God there. So…God keeps dancing, leaping for joy.
“The time had come for a new beginning,” the story says. So, this time God leapt right out of himself and into our world in joy. “God became one of us, a baby,” the story says.
From there, images of joy, delight, dance, and a beautiful simplicity are woven together.
Mary is innocent, a child herself. She is given the chance to “dance with God” as he invites her to “follow his lead.” In spite of circumstances (societal pressure, the unknown journey to Bethlehem) she “follows God’s lead” and so she is called “blessed” and “happy.”
Joseph comes from a line of kings. He represents a family that had kings before there were kings. From this line David, the dancing, singing king came. From David there were more kings and then, sadly, they did not rule anymore. Until one day, a man named Jacob had a son named Joseph. Yes, that is right. The story that began with the Jacob and Joseph of Genesis starts again with a new Jacob and Joseph in Christ’s time. So, the dance can continue.
Each of the characters in the new story are presented with little twists, discoveries I hope will engender a fresh sense of wonder and delight in listeners. The central image I hope will stick with people is an image of Jesus as a baby and as an adult, with his arms open as wide as can be. He is inviting us to dance with him.
The figures are based on a pattern I received from David Pritchard, a Godly Play trainer who lives in Spain. The PlayFull Faith version of the story, however, starts with linking creation to the new creation. It presents each character in the story on different colors and textures (see the photo) and it has an entirely different script that can be simplified for very young listeners.
Yes, there is a dancing God manifest in creation. And Christians believe in a dancing Jesus. It is true he rested for a little while (death) but then he came alive again to continue dancing forever (resurrection). To be sure, he leads but we play a part, too, in the drama. How do you see his dance today?
The story is great for Christmas, which is right around the corner. Write me (Troy) if you’re interested in it, because we hope to make these story sets available to whomever wants one. Each story contains objects that are hand-made and includes a script that you can adapt to suit the audience and occasion.