A big world map (blue, no country names etc) that we had printed for Interactive Christmas in 2011). People were invited to place a Lego figure somewhere they'd visited, and write a on slip of paper their name and the place). There was an option to make a transport vehicle from Lego. Lots of conversation around the map. Not much Lego-making.
Sometimes we play things onscreen in the background during the arrival activity. 1. Funny images of transport (really - Google "overloaded"), video of "Where The Hell is Matt?", and Adam Cousens' great clip "This Road Ahead". Overall this was a bit too much 'background noise". Another time I'd try to have the Adam Cousens' clip as something people could watch (but not in plenary).
Song - "Travelllers On a Journey"
I reworked lyrics from "Travellers on a Journey" from "All Together for Good"...Why? We'll we're trying to have songs that are not too 'praisey' or songs whose lyrics are not too complexly Christian... and the verses of this song were the latter. Mind you, my rewriting seemed a bit 'try-hard' compared to what we usually do. Wanting a song that people can sing without putting faith words in their mouths that they don't endorse. You might ask, why sing then? Well, as a community gathering and participation time, it has worked well. Anyway...
We are travellers on a journey
Hoping to believe
Hearts are yearning
Eyes are open
We are travellers on the journey of life
We are searchers on a journey
Looking to receive
Hearts are turning
Eyes are open
We are searchers on the journey of faith
We are friends on a journey
Longing to believe
Hearts are waiting
Eyes are open
We are friends on the journey of hope
We are followers of Jesus
Yearning to believe
Hearts are burning
Eyes are opened
We are people on the journey of love
Theme Intro - Phil talked about journeys and asked people what kinds of journeys they'd been on.
Prayer of Thanks
We handed out a number of pieces of paper and then invited people to make a sentence prayer of thanks in response to them:
- a place you have visited
- a special holiday memory
- some people who have hosted you
- a nice meal that someone offered you
- somewhere you saw an amazing sunset or sunrise
- someone who has been the driver or pilot when you’ve travelled
- something that you appreciate about your home
- someone who has helped you move
Bible story - this was a paraphrased narrative based on Luke 9 (part of it borrowed from Ralph Milton) -
Download Luke 9
Eight people invited to read a part each, images on-screen
Video - animated version of Dr Seuss' "Oh, The Places You'll Go"
Activities - each month we have 3 to 5 activities that people can do over 30-40 mins. We try to engage different senses and not make it seem like 'Sunday School'... Some are reflective, some are creative, some a active, some are narrative... We're not trying to make every activity 'deep and meaningful', but providing a variety of ways that people of different generations can 'be' together.
1. The Slump
Small groups were invited into the inflatable made by Grace for uni in 2011 (we kept it - it's run by a domestic rotating fan, although she also has a serious industrial fan...). Yvonne led them in a reflection on Luke 6 - Jesus going off to spend time by himself after being 'in demand'. Conversation and prayer about being alone, being lonely, and friends. Background music - Lux 4 from "Lux" by Brian Eno.
2. The Maze
A brief written reflection on Jesus' temptation written on the door to the room. Blindfold people and give them a maze to negotiate. An invitation to reflect on feeling lost and confused, wondering which way to go, and listening for a voice to guide you.
3. The Race
We hired Geeta boards and stilts (and the parachute) from "Life. Be In it" and ran some challenges. People were reminded that the disciples were sent on an urgent task, and that there were challenges. This was basically designed as a fun time. I'll admit that's a shameful and pathetic use of Scripture to run a game...
4. The Storm
The parachute (white/translucent) was draped over various things to make a kind of bowl. The room was dark... On one part of the parachute I rear-projected a loop of waves and water, with a music loop of "Song for Bob" from the soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis to "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford". A spoken reflection on Jesus and his followers being in a boat, and a storm coming, and Jesus bringing peace. An invitation to reflect on when we feel scared, and what we might ask God or Jesus at that time. This looked and sounded excellent. I just needed more work on the narrative, particularly framing "I wonder" statements...
We always gather back together with some conversation about what people have experienced in the activities, os "Show and Tell" if they made stuff.
"We are marching in the light of God" (a song about moving, travelling). In the light of the rather gloomy Dr Seuss story I wanted something that had a kind of celebratory ending, like the story itself.
And "Thank you God (Father) for everything" that we sing each month. (the original has Father and we change it to God. Not surprising.)
Before the usual blessing that we read/say together (I write one to match each month's theme, we used the following from this interesting Jewish ritual website. It's supposed to be a Dr Seuss' style Shema, but frankly, it's not very Dr Seuss.
“And you shall love the Lord your God
With all the heart inside you
With every breath that you may breathe
And all you have beside you.”
Take these words I teach you now
And keep them close to heart
Teach them intently to your kids
That they may grow up smart
Talk about them with your friends
When you sit at home
And speak them proudly on the road
Wherever you may roam
Lie down with them, so that you may
Wake with them on your lips
Bind them fast upon your hand
And 'tween your eyes affix
These words that they may be a sign
To you for evermore
Inscribe these words upon your gates
And write them on your doors!
And then we read/said this together:
Bless us on the journey, God
Bless us on the open road
Bless us on the difficult climb
Bless us at the dead end
Bless us in the thick scrub
Bless us on the mountain peak
Bless us at the coming home
Bless those who travel with us
And everyone we meet.
The postscript is that I knew we had a new family coming who are vegetarian. We hadn't really provided this option before (we have a roster of volunteers who decide themselves what to prepare), so it was good to make the request and have it responded to by the hosts. And clearly it is something that is now on the agenda.
Another issue for us is parents standing back and observing kids doing activities. I'm really puzzled by parents not getting involved with their kids. So we're going to have to work harder on that. eg. blindfold the parent and the child leads them through a maze (see, my better ideas come after the event.) There are a lot of possibilities, many not too difficult.
I have very mixed feelings posting this stuff. The description is not the event, and I have a good sense of what worked and what didn't. I need to say in defense of curriculum writers who are often criticised for being out of touch with the local church (when in fact most of them lead things weekly), given another week we could have crafted some things a LOT better. I keep reflecting on how much of this is craft + art. inspiration + perspiration. It's such a variable mix.
I'm both surprised and unsurprised at how often what is said, whether scripted or spoken in the moment, matters so deeply. I might say more on that later. Suffice to say that tonight was very imperfect, and it's not much like the movie in my head about what this gathering and this community ought to look like. But I decided some time ago to put my stuff 'out there' for people to like or ignore or rework or whatever, simply because it is what it is, a work in progress. And in the light of what the many remarkably creative and clever alt-worship people out there do, publishing what I do keeps me humble. I'm going to post what we do even if I think it's very ordinary. Simply because it's what we do. It's our 'having a go' at doing something new.
Along with my imperfect grammar! ha!