Playing church — seriously
I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. My kids were playing church.
You heard me. They were playing church.
My five older children play highly imaginative games. One of the last I remember was the Pizza Game. Details of how this is played escape me, but hearing “pepperoni” and “crust” yelled across the living room was a part of the fun. Like many of their games, the Pizza Game involved a chase and capture.
But playing church? This was different.
We had been home from the Wednesday night Lenten service for about thirty minutes. (The midweek services consist of local congregations who gather every week during Lent. Each week we meet in a different location, a different church. This is an amazing ecumenical experience and other congregations are welcome to join. Please contact me for info I can easily share.)
The church game started in my bedroom just before bedtime. I walk in a minute or two after this game has started.
The leader is seated on a makeshift altar chair. A sense of authority and peace surrounds her naturally and impressively. I immediately think she is a queen on her throne. But oh, no, I am corrected. My first grader is sitting in what she calls ‘the big seat.’
The four facing her from roughly equal distances are spaced in what I easily surmise as the congregation. The next hymn is announced from my preschooler, “God Bless America.”
In different keys with a variation of similar yet different lyrics, the five begin singing. A time of prayer follows until my first grader notices I have been watching. “What,” she asks with a giggle only she can make. “You do it, why can’t we?”
Good question. Why can’t we?
Maybe we should be more playful when playing—being—church. And why shouldn’t more children lead rather than be regulated to listening only?
Some may be thinking, “Children should be seen and not heard.” After all, this is church!
First, it’s 2023. To an extent, this can relax a little, yes?
Second, I’ll share the Spirit was moving among us earlier that evening in the church where we were. The Spirit also stayed with us.
Should that Spirit—the Holy Spirit—stop? Of course not! Let’s continue to be in this Spirit that leads us.
This leads me to the blind man in John 9:1-42, lectionary text from this past Sunday. Scripture never gives his name, but this soul without sight gains vision through Jesus.
He is defined in the socioeconomic structure of the day as a beggar until he answers who Jesus is. After two sessions of interrogation from the religious elite who tersely dismiss him, Jesus comes to him and asks, “Who am I?”
“You are Lord.”
Let’s keep seeing—and being near—the Lord. How? As children of God, let’s continue with more play and joy in all worship spaces.
Thanks Will! I love this! As a child I would play church and hold Mass for my family in the living room. Our piano bench was the altar in between the music! Of course there were candles and communion too! Wonderful memories!
This is so perfect! These kids are amazing and you never know what they are learning and remembering! I don’t remember anyone playing church but I love it!!!
What a beautiful moment to experience. My heart melted as I could picture it all play out as such. Your children are truly quite special.