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Playing Church: it is just about sitting and listening?
by Estee in

On Saturday night, my son Jude told me he wanted to "play church."  We are pros at playing school, but this was the first time he ever wanted to play church.  I was elated - it was totally his idea and it meant that he had been to church enough to know how to play at it!  Awesome.

What was not so awesome is what happened next.  I intuited that by "playing church" Jude meant that he wanted to pretend to go to worship, so the first thing I asked was which of us was going to be the preacher.  He pointed to me.  So then I asked him "Jude, what are you going to do?" thinking that he would want to lead a song, or say a prayer or something.  Instead, Jude said "I'm going to sit and watch."  I was flabbergasted.  You're going to just sit and watch?  What do you mean?  There are lots of things you can do!  So I said to him "Jude, don't you want to be a part of it?" to which he innocently responded: "Why?"

This whole encounter made me very sad.  My sweet three year old child, who is in worship every Sunday at multiple churches -- mine, Jason's or our parents' -- thinks that church is about sitting and listening.  Being passive.  Watching while someone else puts on a show.  And he's a double preachers' kid!  What do other kids think?  How could it get any worse?

I decided that in our own family, I'm going to have to make this one right.  It's going to be my job to teach Jude that church isn't about sitting and watching, but about participating.  It's about us joining our voices with the voices of our brothers and sisters, and with the voice of God, so that together we can speak good news to the world.   And a big part of this will happen in the worship that I lead, worship that engages everyone in a transformative experience of God's presence.

The "church play" that resulted on Saturday evening at our house was highly participatory.  Together, Jude and I lit imaginary candles as acolytes.  Jude led us in singing "Deep and Wide."  Jason preached a three word sermon (God loves you).  Jude helped me bless a communion meal of chocolate bunny crackers and orange juice.  Together we proclaimed "The body of Christ, broken for you" as we snapped a chocolate cracker in half.  Hopefully, this will be the start of a new way of understanding church for Jude, and for all of us.


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