By Christine V. Hides, Director of Christian Education
Last Sunday I had the opportunity to lead part of the 9 a.m. Godly Play Chapel that includes 3 & 4 year-olds and kindergarten and first grade children. Each Sunday they scamper up the stairs to the chapel doors. There they are invited to prepare to enter this sacred time of stories, music and wondering.
After sharing the Greatest Commandments to love God and love neighbor using hand motions, we wondered together what other stories might be a part of this commandment to love. In chapel there are dozens of Bible stories carefully placed around the room. Each story is represented by beautiful wooden materials. Everything about the space intentionally invites students into the sacred stories of our faith in a way that is developmentally appropriate.
Kindergarten and first graders are developing rapidly in all areas—physically, emotionally, and academically as they learn to read, gain coordination, and create friendships. Godly Play helps young children develop spiritually as they make connections between their lives and the sacred stories using their advancing language skills.
The kindergarten and first graders’ growing abilities were clear to me as we continued our wondering about loving God and neighbor. They were asked to bring materials from around the room that reminded them of the Greatest Commandment. They brought baby Jesus and the risen Christ figure. They brought the Ten Commandments, which are in a heart-shaped box. They noticed hearts on the banners hanging on the wall. At the end of this wondering and connecting, one child said, “Everything in this room belongs to the story of love. We just can’t bring it all because that would make a mess.” Thanks be to God for the ways our young children show us how we are living into our Sunday school vision of being a “school of love.”