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12 November 2015
09 November 2015
Child Theology as a Midrashic Process
by Troy Cady
“…child liberation theology will only be fully authentic when it is created by children themselves.” R.L. Stollar, “The End of Child Liberation Theology”
“Midrash is a unique Jewish literary genre in which biblical texts are imaginatively interpreted, expanded upon, and even reapplied to other biblical passages. Gary Porton, in ‘One Definition of Midrash,’ identifies several ‘propositions’ on which rabbinic midrash is based, three of which are relevant to this discussion. First, since the Scriptures were believed to be ‘an accurate and complete public record’ of God’s revelations to his people, ‘nothing in the Bible was unimportant or superfluous.’ Moreover, since all biblical passages were believed to be interrelated, ‘a section of the Prophets may be used to explain a verse from the Torah, or a portion of the Torah may explain a passage from the writings.’ Finally, ‘any given biblical verse was open to more than one possible interpretation.’ One rabbi’s—or a modern reader’s—midrash does not replace or cancel out another’s.” –Enid Dame, “Psalm 22 and the Gospels: A Midrashic Moment and a Hope for Connection” from the book Poets on the Psalms, edited by Lynn Domina
It is a special day because Ian and Ewan will be the storytellers today. Ian and Ewan are in sixth grade. They will lead a group of children ranging in age from five to nine years old. As the group enters the room they form a circle that’s inside another circle. The outer circle is made up of materials we use to tell key Scripture stories—from creation through Christ and what happens after Pentecost.
We live in the midst of these stories. Our community is formed by them.
We’ve employed this embodied method of storytelling for almost three years now. It’s a powerful approach not only because it presents a cohesive visual language for the child but also because it orients us, time and again, to the core of our faith. The stories are potent enough in their own right to repeat year after year—yes, the same stories.
Like musicians practicing scales, the children rehearse the stories so that, in time, they can hear new songs emerge from familiar progressions.
Ian and Ewan have heard the story they will share a few times. They have already come to know it well. Each time the story itself is told in a way that is consistent, as is customary in the oral tradition. The consistency, however, does not encumber the child—rather, it awakens the imagination, provides a context for a special kind of reflection we call ‘wondering’. The story itself is but a preamble for the proper work of theology: interpretation.
To facilitate this process of interpretation, we ask questions after the story is told that begin with the expression ‘I wonder…’
Theological work as practiced by children is a process of wonder.
I am particularly happy today because the previous week Ian and Ewan said they would like to be the storytellers. But, today just prior to our time together, I asked them if they would like to lead other parts of worship too.
They said they would like that. So, they facilitated the call to worship prior to the story and the wondering after the story.
In fact, all I did was watch and listen.
The time was truly theirs—a theology by children and, therefore, for them.
Our approach makes the materials readily available each week so that “…a section of the Prophets may be used to explain a verse from the Torah, or a portion of the Torah may explain a passage from the writings.” (Gary Porton, as quoted above)
In today’s story and wondering the context called to mind the desert wanderings of the Israelites along with the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai prior to that. Counting the story that was told, the children discussed at least three narratives in an interrelated fashion.
In fact, the story and wondering also included references to manna, the sacrificial system and customs related to the priesthood in the time of Christ.
To be sure, the children were practicing the ancient discipline of midrash…making connections that span centuries—truly integrative.
“…since the Scriptures [are] believed to be ‘an accurate and complete public record’ of God’s revelations to his people, ‘nothing in the Bible [is] unimportant or superfluous.’” (Enid Dame and Gary Porton, as quoted above)
Today the children wondered about the role of incense in tabernacle worship. Are they not similar to rabbis practicing midrash? Truly, no detail is too small to notice.
Moreover, the scented smoke is noticed in the story and granted importance. In fact, the children think it so important to the story that one girl asks, “Ooo! I have some frankincense at home. I’ll bring it next week.”
The others look forward to that. I imagine this will kick-start a conversation about the gifts the three wise men brought the Christ-child—which will lead to more integrative thinking, comparing text with text.
What I love about this conversation is the sense of enjoyment. No one says, “That doesn’t matter.” Or, “That’s stupid! What does that have to do with anything?”
They accept the idea and run with it. The process is not absent of “critique” but it is a “critique” that is fueled by curiosity, acceptance and openness.
“Finally, ‘any given biblical verse was open to more than one possible interpretation.’ One rabbi’s—or a modern reader’s—midrash does not replace or cancel out another’s.” (Enid Dame, quoting Gary Porton)
Ian and Ewan got the wondering time started. From there, all the children participated, taking turns asking questions and responding. Almost every child had something they wondered about. I smiled as each of them posed their question by starting with the words “I wonder.”
I did not tell them to do that. They did it on their own. To be sure, they had heard that expression over and over again from me for the past three years but today…they employed the wonder-motif of their own accord.
To any single question there were at least two varied responses (and most times four, five or six variations). What’s more: the responses seemed to be contradictory, but this did not worry the children. They took it in stride that one person’s response did not have to conform to another’s. Each could be their own person.
At any given time, one would say “I’d like to be the priest in the story” while another child would say “I wouldn’t: that would be scary coming close to God like that.”
To which another child would respond: “I think it’s good to come close to God. God is loving.”
And another would reply: “But God is perfect.”
All this without arguing, mind you. It wasn’t that they were rejecting each other’s ideas. They were simply talking about their own perspective.
Somehow, they knew that both children were “right.” Yes, God is holy—and yes, God is loving. Yes, it is scary to be close to a God who is holy—but yes, God is loving so it is good to be close to him. The ideas that were held in tension formed them in holistic worship.
Adults can learn a thing or two from these children. We tend to argue which part of the tension takes precedence over the other, defines the other. The children let both sides of the tension have equal weight, without feeling the need to resolve the tension. They have made friends with it. They don’t insist they have to have it all figured out.
And, so, they accept alternate interpretations—allowing one to modify the other. The process of acceptance keeps them learning.
Would that we all could become as children who are more than qualified to serve as warm, curious rabbis—the keenest of theological intellects.
PlayFull offers training in a unique style of children's ministry that grounds both young and old in holistic faith formation. Write Troy to learn more. PlayFull would be honored to help you and your church implement this approach.
25 October 2015
|Renee and Mary Jane: hearts of gold!|
For the past 5 months, I’ve had the privilege of accompanying a couple of leaders as they pursue ideas related to ministry with older adults. Nine days ago we gathered a small group of people to listen and explore collaborative trajectories in this.
|A collage making exercise to help us|
question assumptions related to
ministry with older adults
As part of our listening time, we engaged in an exercise designed to draw out the “Top 10 Questions of Older Adults.” Here’s what the group came up with in a short period of time:
1. How will I maintain my health? How long do I have?
2. Who am I now?
3. Why am I still here?
4. What’s my legacy? What am I leaving behind?
5. How will I stay active, engaged?
6. Will I be lonely?
7. How do I continue to find meaning in life?
8. Can I maintain my autonomy?
9. How do I deal with grief and loss?
10. What will my quality of life be? What can I afford? Where will I live?
Not bad, I feel, for a first pass.
|Group work: Top Ten Questions of Older Adults|
One of the benefits of this process is that, overall, we are taking our time about it. We only considered two items of a list of 6 we had in mind and the next meeting will take place in two weeks.
So, we have some time to let the initial brainstorm settle and sift.
In that slower space, new ideas come to mind. For example, I found myself thinking about the issue of regret. I’m still middle-aged but I can already tell that if I do not tend to regret in these “young” years it will bite me in the butt when I am older. And dealing with regret is something I need to be intentional about because…let’s be honest…I’d rather just stick my head in the sand and hope it goes away. It’s not easy to deal with regret so sometimes our natural inclination is to just…ignore it.
But ignored regret does not go away. I can only imagine how many older adults face their twilight years not having dealt with regret adequately. I can think of a few older adults I know personally who wrestle with this. It is truly a ministry of mercy and redemption to help them work through significant questions of regret, I believe.
So, I proposed to the group that we add “regret” to the questions. Perhaps include it with question 9 on the themes of grief and loss. Something like: “How do I deal with grief, loss and regret?”
I am checking it with the group, but so far the response has been positive to include it.
Anyway, in the process of this I also asked the group to look at the questions and sound off on their thoughts, add anything they feel is missing. One of the group members wrote this to me just a little bit ago:
“One question that seems to be missing for me relates to spiritual growth. The question ‘How do I find meaning in life?’ doesn't adequately address the topic for me. As an older adult, I want to confront ageing head-on, with all its challenges and opportunities. I expect to continue to grow spiritually not in spite of age, but as an integral part of ageing. Most of what I read on spirituality and ageing sees faith as a tool for dealing with decline, diminishment and loss. I find this approach very limiting. I want to go deeper into life through faith as I age. I believe that people can grow and change in all stages of life. I want to wrestle with what I encounter through the eyes of faith. I want to share with others the wisdom that comes from this process. This is a journey, a path, a quest that is central to my life at this age. So a central question for me is: ‘How can I grow closer to God, deeper as a person, and share the wisdom I have gained as I navigate the path toward the end of life?’”
I found her insights provocative and insightful so I asked her if I could share them. She graciously agreed and added that much of her thinking is inspired by a book by Robert Weber and Carol Orsborn called The Spirituality of Age.
Sounds like a good book to read!
Stay tuned as we continue this PlayFull journey whereby we engage in conversations and creative exercises designed to help older adults “play from the inside-out.”
Contact Troy if you'd like to know how PlayFull could be of service to you.
03 October 2015
To be born is one matter—to live is another. The former is a beginning, the latter requires rebirth. It would not surprise me in the least if God counts our days not by the number of years since we were born but by the number of days since our last rebirth.
Some Christians speak of rebirth as a once-in-a-lifetime event. They talk of when they were “born again.” But if we are not born again again, to be merely born again is nothing.
How else are we to continually receive the kingdom of God as a little child? The only way to do so is to be born again again—and again, and again, and again.
I suppose this is part of what Jesus means when he speaks of eternal life. Though the body ages, the spirit can continue to practice childhood—and so, grow wiser. Yes, a life continually renewed is indeed eternal. My prayer is that I would be that kind of person, that we would all inherit eternal life—which is more a quality of life than a quantity of life, more an essence than a measure.
Be born in me, my God, ever new with each sunrise. “Renew a steadfast spirit within me.” When the way seems closed, help me to believe that, when the time is right, “way will open.” Open my eyes to see the wonder of resurrection at work every day, in every season. Thank you for the freedom of childlike play—to go exploring with gusto, to laugh and enjoy goodness all around and within. Show me new ways to play and new ways to help others practice childhood. Help me never take myself too seriously. When times are dark and my sight is as weak as a newborn’s, open my ears to hear your joy in the voices of those around me. When I am helpless like an infant, hold me close and carry me.
So be it. Amen.
27 September 2015
“People are more themselves when joy is the fundamental thing in them, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live.”
–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
14 September 2015
You are a true artist. You should never doubt that.
On Tuesday, I tried looking for something good at the art show. Here is what I saw:
Some of the pieces were well-painted;
the photographs were stunning in color and composition;
there was a cute series with a fox and a lily;
another man’s art was versatile;
there was an artist with accomplished stylings of Chicago;
a jewelry maker with pieces that were intricate but mostly too large;
but your work was exceptional and best.
Let me tell you why.
Your work was redemptive. “Nothing Wasted.”
Though the photographs were well-taken…they were ugly. Pictures of waste. Maybe they were pictures about mourning decay. But mourning the night is redemptive only when Morning, whose second name is Joy, moves in. Brokenness without healing is just brokenness.
Your work portrayed a story of precious material…thrown away…and reclaimed to become something it could never become on its own without the Loving Hand of a Master Artist. Your work was imbued with dignity. And, because of its whimsy (who takes aluminum cans and makes flowers, anyway?) your work showed us what a smiling queen looks like. So beautiful. We need more of that.
Your work was understated. The rings you make do not have to be big. They are big by being small. They do not have to lust after attention. Their tiny simplicity causes one to lean in to get a closer look. Looking for beauty is a movement of desire. The looker wants to look. I wanted more light so I could see more clearly the contours of the piece. So, I held the ring and angled it this way and that closer to the bulb to get a better look. That’s good art, my friend.
Your work was not superficial. It wasn’t merely “pretty.” It was truthful. Your work held two notions in tension: what a thing had been and what it could be. The hopeful aspect of your work is its beauty. In your work truth and beauty are unified.
Some people believe there is no truth. Pilate could see no truth and because of that he could see no beauty in the disfigured Christ and because of that he could see no goodness in the world, only corruption, only a game to be played, politics and perceptions, attempts to placate frustration.
Some people believe in truth but divorce it from beauty and goodness. I saw plenty of this at the show. Pieces that portrayed someone’s reality…they are being truthful, real with how they feel or what they see…but there is no beauty in it.
There are others who wanted to portray beauty…but it was divorced from truth. Their work was pretty but it lacked depth that made you want to keep looking at it, searching for something substantive…feasting instead of snacking on Funyons.
Your display table was too small for the feast you laid out. Your work was true and beautiful and good.
I think your work displayed this because of the person you are and the person you are becoming. Your art reflected the “was, and is and is to come.” Your art had much of the God in you and you in your God.
Your art was not perfect. Maybe that is what I liked best. I like your art because I like the person you are becoming. You are learning to live with the truth that nothing precious should be thrown away like so much trash.
We don’t throw away a marriage thoughtlessly because it’s dented. We work with it. It will become something even more beautiful when we work with it, believing it can become something wonderful. The belief is risky. When you work with something in belief you feel you might just be taking junk and making it a different kind of junk on a different day. It takes guts to work with broken, thrown out things.
But what do you have to lose? Even if it turns out to be the same old junk on a different day the muscles you exercise in working with it make you a better, stronger person…so, either way, the world is better off and so are you and so are we. You’ve got nothing to lose.
I noticed you had love as a centerpiece, too. Love in large red letters, shining with so many marquee lights. I liked that, but you didn’t need it because everything else that was displayed at your booth communicated love. Still, it was good to see.
You had some other words spelled out, too. I liked those best. In particular, the word Freedom. Freedom gives love legs. Without freedom, love isn’t love. To grant and receive freedom is to love and be loved. You are free to be you, tattooed and blue-haired. I am free to be me, pudgy and old, but goofy in my plain ol’ striped shirt. The difference and the love for the difference makes all the difference.
I liked your work best at the art show because it was different than all the others. Your work was redemptive, beautiful, humble, playful, noble, filled with faith and hope, in touch with reality, a reflection of your true self, at peace with imperfection.
My charge to you is this: Stay true to the art in you which is the art beyond you.
15 August 2015
A scene: we are gathered together, young and old…kids from age 3 to eighth grade, parents in their forties, friends in their twenties.
We make a circle and in the center a story is told with the use of props…some felt, wooden cutouts, a candle, copper wire twisted in the shape of a tree and some stained glass panels. It’s a familiar Bible story…when God speaks to Moses at the burning bush. The story goes that Moses’ name means “drawn out” but here in the desert God draws Moses in. So, Moses comes closer to God, attracted by mystery. But Moses cannot come too close.
God says, “Take off your sandals; this is holy ground.”
Later, we wonder about the story and someone asks why God told Moses to take off his sandals. Then another person asks, “What is holy ground, anyway? What made that ground so special?”
We made some interesting observations. Meanwhile, the three-year old played quietly, contentedly in the lap of his sixth-grade friend.
Then I asked, “I wonder what it feels like to be on holy ground?”
Without hesitation, one of the adults said, “I know. Like that.”
He pointed to the little child, playing.
We knew his answer was perfect.
PlayFull exists to help people and organizations play from the inside-out. We offer training in a unique kind of children’s ministry that integrates the formation of young and old. Write Troy Cady for more information.
14 August 2015
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
–Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder*
–Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder*
Play from the inside-out. We invite you to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading.
*This quote appeared in Plough’s Daily Dig on August 14, 2015.
24 July 2015
moved the right panel of
the deep red curtain
just inches from closed.
When the sun rose
light’s lips kissed
my closed eyes
till sleep’s mist lifted,
the ground of Hope.
The fresh day
has enough alarm
to awaken me from apathy
so I thank you, God,
for the wind
that opens this room up to the Holy
in the night
so I may rise to Rest
in the day.
by Troy Cady
written during The Creative Call PlayGroup
July 23, 2015
09 July 2015
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Note: today's thought is quoted from Plough's Daily Dig; July 9, 2015.
08 July 2015
“During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, ‘Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.’” (from Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Matthew Linn)
Each day, the authors of this story practice various forms of the Examen. The Examen is a practice that was developed by Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits. Most of the time, the authors of this story do the Examen work together. It is a good way to build relationship and receive support from each other. The Examen is predicated on the reality that each day carries with it the potential for one or both of the following: consolation and/or desolation.
“Consolation” is the experience of feeling close to God or others. “Desolation” is the experience of feeling far away. In a simple form of the Examen you could simply ask yourself at the end of the day:
“When did I feel closest to God and when did I feel furthest away?”
Then, in your review, thank God for the times of consolation and ask for God’s help with the times of desolation.
Alternatively, you could consider one of these pairings they include in their book:
For what am I most/least grateful?
When did I feel the most alive? When did I feel life draining out of me?
When did I have the greatest/least sense of belonging to self, others, God?
When was I happiest/saddest?
What was today’s high/low point?
What was invigorating? What was challenging?
Though it is important to consider both the positive and negative, sometimes you may just need to pay attention to the positive. For example, you may want to review your day with this question:
“When did I give/receive the most love?”
...or something similar.
Though this is a practice you could use by yourself, it is also great to practice with others. I invite you to consider using this regularly. Don’t make it long...Here is how you could approach it:
1. Decide if you’d like to do a consolation/desolation pairing or solely consider consolation. If you are doing this with others and one person does not feel like doing the pair, simply focus on the consolation part.
2. Pick one of the variations listed above. Which pairing or which question above would you most like to use as a frame for your reflection? Click here for a printable you can use as a reminder of the variations available to you. Feel free to add your own variations to this handy print-out.
3. Light a candle and use it as a visual focus to quiet your heart and mind. Put your hand on your heart for some brief moments as a gesture that you are bringing your heart to the process. Take some moments to reflect silently. Search for your consolation. If you are doing the pair, search for your desolation.
4. Share with each other your consolation and desolation. If you are listening, do not advise, critique or interpret what you have heard. Simply listen. If you feel compelled to comment or notice something, keep your words brief and positive…accepting.
5. When you are finished, take a very brief time to pray…giving thanks for consolation and asking God’s help for desolation.
That’s it. Don’t make it a long, drawn-out thing. Just keep it simple and short.
If you are a parent, keep in mind that this is a simple, doable exercise children can appreciate as well. Do it together as a family. The authors of the book have even had their neighbors join in. It’s a great community building exercise.
I wanted to invite you to practice this because it is a non-threatening way of daily sharing your authentic self with each other without being too “heavy” and raising arguments. It’s a good way to listen to God and each other, to see what God is doing…accepting and appreciating that. Basically, it’s a way to notice what is life-giving to you, holding the bread that helps you rest in God.
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07 June 2015
“Can there be something in life that has power over us which little by little causes us to forget all that is good? And can this ever happen to anyone who has heard the call of eternity quite clearly and strongly? If this can ever be, then one must look for a cure against it. Praise be to God that such a cure exists – to quietly make a decision. A decision joins us to the eternal. It brings what is eternal into time. A decision raises us with a shock from the slumber of monotony. A decision breaks the magic spell of custom. A decision breaks the long row of weary thoughts. A decision pronounces its blessing upon even the weakest beginning, as long as it is a real beginning. Decision is the awakening to the eternal.”
Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations*
PlayFull posts encouraging and thought-provoking content designed to help you “play from the inside-out.” We invite you to like us onFacebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading!
The quote appeared in Plough’sDaily Dig; June 7, 2015.
04 June 2015
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27 May 2015
Disciple-making by Worshipful Play
by Troy Cady
In the Scriptures we find the Story of a People formed by experiencing God. Because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the experience of God continues…and the Story goes on. Thus, the action of God in history (both past and present) gives shape to a community that provides a grounding for the individual.
Throughout history the acts of God were relived as the stories of God and God’s People were retold—and the stories were told in a way children could understand so that the faith was handed down from generation to generation. That is a key component of classical faith formation: to declare the person and work of God to the next generation (that is, to children). When disciple-making occurs by placing a child in our midst, we discover there an inexhaustible supply of wonder for the adult, too.
Therefore, disciple-making as worshipful play is centered on the story of God as we experience it in childhood—whether it be our first (biological) childhood or our second (new-birth) childhood. One needn’t have children or be a child to approach disciple-making in this way. Disciple-making by play is a method that responds to the story and movement of God by cultivating the qualities of childhood: wonder, imagination, freedom and relationship. Discipleship by play is both personal and communal—personal because people are formed as the Spirit speaks to each individual and communal because our formation occurs in the context of a “circle of relationships”.
Thanks to the pioneering work of Sofia Cavalletti, Jerome Berryman and Sonja Stewart we have a discernable pattern we can follow should we endeavor to practice disciple-making by play. It is derived from the movements of a “grown-up” worship service but it is adapted so the child (or childlike) can enter into God’s presence in a way that quickens their spiritual sensibilities.
As is the case in “adult” worship, the pattern of discipleship by play boils down to a simple dialectic: hearing and response. We hear the Word of God and we respond to it. That said, it takes intentionality to fully hear and respond so the process includes a time of preparation prior to hearing as well as an array of responses, both “gathered” and “scattered”. Here are the stages in fuller form:
1. Turning our attention to God’s Presence.
-We cross the threshold
-We form the circle
-We focus our hearing
-We focus our sight
-We practice silence
We call this “Getting Ready” or “Call to Worship”
2. Listening to God’s Presence.
-We tell each story in the midst of the whole Story.
-We tell the story simply.
-We tell the story slowly.
-We tell the story visually.
-We unfold the story in the center of the circle.
We call this “Hearing the Story”
3. Wondering in God’s Presence.
-We consider questions that quicken the imagination.
-We see the surprise of God in the story.
-We place ourselves in the story.
-We learn from each other.
-We reflect on aspects of the story that provide consolation or desolation.
-We discover continuity with other stories.
We call this “Wondering”
4. Responding to God’s Presence.
-We are free to respond as God prompts.
-We may respond with art.
-We may respond with reading.
-We may respond with writing.
-We may respond with telling a story to another.
-We may respond with singing.
-We may respond with focused prayer.
We call this “Responding”
5. Fellowshipping in God’s Presence.
-We share food together.
-We serve one another.
-We share joys and sorrows together.
-We pray for one another and give thanks together.
-We sing together.
-We practice generosity.
We call this “Feasting”
6. Going in God’s Presence.
-We remember we are the light of the world.
-We give and receive a blessing to “go with God.”
-We go, looking for where God is already at work in the world.
-We resolve to join God in God’s work in the world.
We call this “Blessing” or “Benediction”
This method of making disciples follows a weekly rhythm, but it could also be modified for practice on a daily basis. Further, it is presented in a larger annual rhythm since the stories can interface with the church calendar, if one so desires.
There are three main genres: stories that present historical narratives, stories that are parables and stories that orient worshippers to practices (liturgical actions) such as Advent and Lent, baptism and communion. The main stories that propel the action of Scripture forward are considered first and then as the disciple grows older the supporting stories round out the narrative. Texts that are propositional in nature are considered in the light of the story in which they came.
Though this method was designed for use with children, I wonder…in what ways could adults benefit from it, too? How might it be adapted for use with adults?
PlayFull provides training in children’s ministry and seeks to establish PlayGroups whereby young and old can grow via playful methods. Write Troy to inquire how PlayFull can help you and your ministry. To read a description of a training sequence we provide, click here. Thank you for reading.
23 May 2015
“Avoid dividing the world into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ If you do, you will harden your heart. There are not two worlds, one in God’s hands and the other one not. There are not two species of people either, one totally under God’s rule and the other completely outside of it.” Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, Everyone Belongs to God*
PlayFull exists to help people play from the inside-out. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading.
*This quote appeared courtesy of Plough’s Daily Dig (May 22, 2015).
21 May 2015
by Troy Cady
It’s a puzzle
how each one unfolds
like a Spirit flame—
how each one becomes
like a sunset
risen from the flood.
That which we suppose dead
new days begin at dusk.
Precious flowers, wild-
sprung from earth,
give thanks and be glad
for the transparency
that magnifies the blooming.
Each flower unique,
a manifest of
the holy cloud of unknowing.
How will each unfold?
These flowers will surprise.
how is it that we hear
the flower’s voice by silence?
Dearly beloved, listen to these flowers,
flourishing quietly, slowly in the living water.
Dearly beloved, listen to these flowers—
their voice goes out to all the earth.
Amen and amen.
for the Gladness and Hunger PlayGroup
May 21, 2015
14 May 2015
What would happen
if I stopped clutching
colorful and fluttering,
as hopeful as they are fragile?
Would I change?
Would I learn to rest in freedom?
Would my eyes see the light
in this brief flight
Would my heart open like
by troy cady
13 May 2015
18 April 2015
Joy & Disbelieving
...In their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering... —Luke 24.41
it's all here at once,
joy and disbelieving,
dullness and wonder.
Let my joy flower,
my disbelieving keep on wondering.
Give me the faith to watch in amazement,
to finally know what I know,
to rejoice before I understand.
Wonder, lead me
where I wouldn't go without you.
O soul, drag me into the dance,
guided in your arms,
looking into my Savior's eyes,
without even knowing it.
by Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light
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16 April 2015
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” -G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy*
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*Today’s quote was provided courtesy of Plough’s Daily Dig; February 15, 2015
28 March 2015
I have friends who suffer from depression. This morning, I read these words by Parker Palmer in his wonderful book Let Your Life Speak. In chapter 4, Parker Palmer shares his own struggle with depression. In the midst of his story, he tells of a friend who suffered from depression and he gleans some valuable insight from the experience. I hope this passage provides a glimmer of hope and reveals a pathway to compassionate understanding. –Troy
“Twice in my forties I spent endless months in the snake pit of the soul. Hour by hour, day by day, I wrestled with the desire to die, sometimes so feeble in my resistance that I ‘practiced’ ways of doing myself in. I could feel nothing except the burden of my own life and the exhaustion, the apparent futility, of trying to sustain it.
“I understand why some depressed people kill themselves: they need the rest. But I do not understand why others are able to find new life in the midst of a living death, though I am one of them. I can tell you what I did to survive and, eventually, to thrive—but I cannot tell you why I was able to do those things before it was too late.
“Because of my not knowing, perhaps I have learned something about the relation of depression to faith, as this story may illustrate. I once met a woman who had wrestled with depression for much of her adult life. Toward the end of a long and searching conversation, during which we talked about our shared Christian beliefs, she asked, in a voice full of misery, ‘Why do some people kill themselves yet others get well?’
“I knew that her question came from her own struggle to stay alive, so I wanted to answer with care. But I could come up with only one response.
“’I have no idea. I really have no idea.’
“After she left, I was haunted by regret. Couldn’t I have found something more hopeful to say, even if it were not true?
“A few days later, she sent me a letter saying that of all the things we had talked about, the words that stayed with her were ‘I have no idea.’ My response had given her an alternative to the cruel ‘Christian explanations’ common in the church to which she belonged—that people who take their lives lack faith or good works or some other redeeming virtue that might move God to rescue them. My not knowing had freed her to stop judging herself for being depressed and to stop believing that God was judging her. As a result, her depression had lifted a bit.
“I take two lessons from that experience. First, it is important to speak one’s truth to a depressed person. Had I offered wishful thinking, it would not have touched my visitor. In depression, the built-in bunk detector that we all possess is not only turned on but is set on high.
“Second, depression demands that we reject simplistic answers, both ‘religious’ and ‘scientific,’ and learn to embrace mystery, something our culture resists. Mystery surrounds every deep experience of the human heart: the deeper we go into the heart’s darkness or its light, the closer we get to the ultimate mystery of God. But our culture wants to turn mysteries into puzzles to be explained or problems to be solved, because maintaining the illusion that we can ‘straighten things out’ makes us feel powerful. Yet mysteries never yield to solutions or fixes—and when we pretend that they do, life becomes not only more banal but also more hopeless, because the fixes never work.
“Embracing the mystery of depression does not mean passivity or resignation. It means moving into a field of forces that seems alien but is in fact one’s deepest self. It means waiting, watching, listening, suffering, and gathering whatever self-knowledge one can—and then making choices based on that knowledge, no matter how difficult. One begins the slow walk back to health by choosing each day things that enliven one’s selfhood and resisting things that do not.”
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21 March 2015
Two weeks ago we held a celebration dinner for our Creative Call PlayGroup. The group began meeting in November and, over the course of eight sessions, explored the roadblocks and sources of creative expression. The course was loosely derived from a book by Janice Elsheimer, but we supplemented her approach with some of our own original content.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be retooling the course and offering it again. If you live in the Chicago area, be on the lookout for that because you are welcome to join. If you do not live in the Chicago area and are interested in the course, email Troy to inquire about how we can offer the course in a retreat or workshop format for your location.
One of the group members rallied the others to write a few words about how the course benefited them. Here are some snippets of what they said.
"The spiritual part of it is what I loved the most. I have learned that I want to get rid of some things that no longer matter in my life. And really, life is art in a way. It matters how we want to paint the day. We paint it in our minds and our hearts." -Chrissy
"I have been encouraged, through the class and through you, to look at life in a simpler way, yet to give yourself to it fully, enjoying the ride. That's what this class has been for me: a space of just being, believing, sharing, enjoying." -Damaris
"Troy, you have helped make the Creative Call a special time, to challenge us to be bold, to use our imagination, and not to worry about making mistakes or be concerned about our fear of how others may perceive us or our art...it was a privilege to be a part of your class." -Curt
"...it was the first step for me to trust the process of believing I am creative. I am grateful for your ability to connect the spiritual and creative in a way that I could not have seen on my own. Thank you for believing in each one of us and who God is making us." -Renee
"...to have this class to look forward to was like an oasis in the desert. Longing, not only to learn more about the connectedness between spirituality and creativity, but also to meet with more like-minded friends! And this class has more than fulfilled my hopes! I feel like the time went way too fast and I could easily have enjoyed this for longer. You have kindled creativity in me in more than one area, and I am very thankful for the lessons I've been able to soak up and the experiences I've had under your direction!" -Becky
"The one thing that keeps sounding in my head is 'it doesn't have to be perfect!' Thanks for providing this opportunity for all of us. I hope to take advantage of this again." –Denise
11 March 2015
By Gerard Manley Hopkins