God of Delight, Teach us to Play!

We grow up and forget. Peter didn't remember that he had forgotten how to walk on water, and so he walked—until he remembered—and then he got frightened and sank, and Jesus took him by the hand and pulled him out of the water and told him that he lacked faith.
It may be that we have lost our ability...to walk on water, because we have been taught that such things have to be earned; we should deserve them; we must be qualified. We are suspicious of grace. We are afraid of the very lavishness of the gift. But a child rejoices in presents!

~ Madeleine L’Engle

Become like a child, [Jesus] said, if you want to mature like an adult. To play the ultimate game, don't rely on will, belief, denial, or reason alone. Play. Play in a Godly way. Play with the Creator. Enter the existential game with imagination, wonder, and laughter if you want to become new without end.
~ Jerome W. Berryman, Godly Play: An Imaginative Approach to Religious Education

I wonder, how many of us see Sabbath as something we do, “suspicious of grace,” and “afraid of the lavishness” of such a gift. If we really have “lost our ability” for Sabbath, with little time to pause, wonder, rest, and play. What does it mean to play alongside the Creator, to be a “messy church” where God’s creative and transforming Spirit is at the center of our shared humanity; to “become like a child” amidst adult responsibilities?

As I see it, Sabbath play is a safe and curious place, where people of all ages are free to encounter God in the loveliness, strangeness, surprise and mystery of God’s creative diversity. Play is more than time away from work. It is one of the best ways to learn, to grow in faith. Re-creation and recreation are fundamentally the same, so that an environment and attitude of play is particularly important to the shaping and forming of faith.

God’s intention for us is to receive the kingdom: to live in playful community; to nurture biblical imagination; to hear God’s voice in the questions; to be awakened by creativity to new ways of seeing ourselves. Gertrud Mueller Nelson might say, the gift of Sabbath play is “To Dance with God.” So then…let's dance!

- Kelly Rowley, Director of Children and Family Ministries