The Ministry of the Child

Posted by Ruth Beresford on

Each week small clusters of children have gathered in our Education Wing on Sunday to hear the cycle of sacred stories, sharing our faith. Adults become ministers to children, trained to lead Godly Play circles - our spiritual formation rooted in a Montessori theory of education. We believe that God is at work in each person, no matter the age or ability. On Monday, Lynne Jensen shared the story from one of our teachers who experienced the ministry of the child. With gratitude, and with Martha Henley's permission...

This Sunday was the last Godly Play of the season, and the mood in the 3- and 4-year-old group was one of anticipation and celebration. The day began with each child creating a gift for Mom. Although there were many dirty and sticky hands, even some dirty outfits, the children loved the messy work of making homemade gifts. After the Story of the gift of the Holy Spirit, it was time for the Feast, to celebrate the upcoming Birthday of the Church on Pentecost. The children "changed the light," blowing out the birthday candles we had lit on each cupcake and singing a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday Dear Church before the devouring began! Then we were off to worship in the chapel and back to the classroom to await their parents. They had time to play with all the stories from the past year. That is when the magic happened.

One little girl wanted to be the teacher and tell the group, including us teachers, the story. We all gathered around her, sitting in a circle. In true Godly Play form, she began by taking a swath of green felt and laying it before the group.

"We see a big field of green grass." With deliberate purpose, she placed a long table on the grass with bread and a chalice. "And people came from all over for the feast. Everyone came. Men, women, from all over the place. Even the kids." As she spoke, she placed figures from all of the stories on the grass around the table. She used the priest figure to bless the bread, using a version of the prayer just said before her cupcake feast, a prayer taught to the teacher by her mother: "We thank you God for the bread, birds and animals, and the people we meet, and the food." Then she took a feathered dove and enacted the arrival of the Holy Spirit (as in the Pentecost story she had just heard). A boy added another dove swooping and flying over the group. With conviction, she said, "And then they got the Holy Spirit and went all over the world."

With that, the parents arrived for pick up.

Quite simply, as a teacher, this was one of the most powerful moments I have witnessed. Sometimes with all the messiness, spilled juice, dirty hands, and general exuberance of the children, it is hard to know if the message is getting through. One little girl's witness showed the power of the story, words we are privileged to impart each week.

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