Rev. Caroline Noll, Associate Pastor and Pastor for Children and Families

I’ve thought for a long time that it would be so cool to have a Godly Play room at my house.

Be careful what you wish for.

At the beginning of shelter in place, back when we didn’t know how long we’d be in our homes and under what circumstances, while many were hoarding toilet paper and canned soup and ice cream (I’m telling you … the freezer section was bare), I was hoarding stories.

I really didn’t know if I’d have access to the church building for a while, so I took a couple of rolling carts and empty boxes up to the second floor and brought home every Godly Play story that called my name that day.

Plus a few more.

As our ministries quickly transitioned to virtual spaces, we shared the Core Godly Play stories of Jesus, his life, the parables, and stories of the disciples.

Time passed, and as I wondered what we would do in the summer, a wise colleague suggested that I ask the children.

The kids of our church, who have been learning the stories and language of our faith in the style of Godly Play for six years now asked for deeper stories.

You see, there are the Core stories, that physically take up the top shelves of our space, as if the Bible opened up and the stories spilled out into the room.

Then we physically go deeper, to the lower shelves, to enrich and extend the core stories we now have as our foundation.

These stories are different.

For example, the story of Creation as presented in Genesis 1 is on the top shelf, a core story.

Genesis 2-3, the story of Adam and Eve, sits below and extends that story.

The story of the Great Family, the broad sweep of the story of Abraham and Sarah, sits on top, a core story.

Individual stories of Abraham, Sarah and Jacob sit below to extend that story.

As we’ve been telling these deeper stories on that middle shelf, I consistently wonder, Well what in the world happened to us?

The people of God get into some messes.

We rebel. We falter. We get angry.

We become fearful. We are embarrassed. We do not own up to our mistakes.

On the top shelf, it seems things happen to us and for us.

Now on this middle shelf, the people of God have gotten in on the action, and it’s not always pretty!

I feel like that’s our world right now. My world.

When things were going 90 to nothing, it was easier to skim the surface and avoid the deeper realities.

But things have slowed down tremendously, and what we see reflected back isn’t always very flattering.

Our messes catch up with us. We get angry. We are afraid. We’re embarrassed.

It’s hard to look in the mirror and own up to our reality.

Okay, the good news?

Because we seriously need some good news.

These are not separate stories of our faith. One does not exist in isolation from the other.

This is one big story, and it’s a story of love and grace and promise.

Through all the muck and mire and mess the people of God have been through, often times of their own doing, God is steadfast.

God is everlasting.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, ever separates us from the love of God, and the story continues.

The story continues, and God continues to journey with us.

May we welcome that grace and invitation into our hearts and our lives each day.

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