January 2019

Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.                                                   

In September I began my fourth year directing the Sunday school program here at St. Andrew’s.

The big news: we now have a name: Worship and Play (because there’s worship in the play and play in the worship). 

Worship and Play is inspired by the Montessori-based Young Children and Worship; Godly Play; and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd programs. And while I can’t take credit for the theology or philosophy behind my program, or the scripts that I use with the presentations, or the templates I use for the creation of the story pieces, I will say that the way I have implemented the various elements of the above programs is my own creation, based on my many years’ work with children as well as my liturgical training at Hebrew College, and I am please with the way it works. 

The programs mentioned above are all based on the premise that young children already have a relationship with God – all they need is the space and the materials with which to bring this relationship to the surface. This is my goal in Worship and Play, beginning with our worship space – literally, the way it is set up, it is a three-dimensional Bible; a place that the children understand is a holy space. a place unlike any other in their lives, a place that is set aside for listening to God and each other, singing to God, talking about God, hearing God’s stories, and responding to God through art and music and other spontaneous and creative play.

We greet each other with songs of welcome and praise and we present our gifts to God at our prayer table.

The children hear and see a three-dimensional Bible story, followed by wondering questions and an invitation to respond creatively to how the story may have inspired them.

We then gather back at our circle where we light the Christ candle and read a short version of the day’s presentation from the Bible.

We continue with the Lord’s prayer, and on to breaking bread together in the form of crackers and juice. Our meal time often includes a recap of our story, read from one of our illustrated children’s Bibles, and a song or two. We close with the singing of Shalom Chaverim (Goodbye, Friends), and I give each child a blessing, with the reminder to “Take God’s love with you from this place and share it with the world.”

I sometimes get discouraged that there are not more children in the program – we typically have between one and four children, ages 4 to 8, in attendance – but I am keenly aware that even if one child is present, my work is never wasted. I am grateful for the opportunity to do this work

Also, a big thank-you to my faithful assistant and door-person/greeter Laura Noonan, who also provides a very fun and happy nursery during the 10:00 service. 

Pax Christi, Sara Piazza