Godly Play Online: The Holy Family

This week’s lesson is “The Holy Family” from The Complete Guide to Godly Play: Volume 2 by The Rev. Dr. Jerome Berryman told by Godly Play® Canada Trainer Andrew Sheldon.

The material for this lesson is a Nativity set with these figures: Mary, Joseph, the Christ child (removable, with outstretched arms) in a manger, a shepherd, one or more sheep, a donkey, a cow and the three kings.  Behind the Holy Family, is the figure of the risen Christ with outstretched arms. The figures sit on a coloured cloth in the colour of the liturgical season. 
We first present this lesson at the beginning of the church school year. We repeat the lesson whenever we change the liturgical colors in the room to reflect the changes in the liturgical season—purple or blue for Advent, white for Christmas, purple for Lent and so on. On those occasions, one purpose of the lesson is simple: we take the Holy Family off the shelf, change the colored cloth on the shelf to a new one, then replace the figures on the new cloth

However, the Holy Family holds deep significance for our work throughout the year. That is why the Holy Family sits right in the center of the focal shelf in the room, right behind the storyteller every week of the year. That is why we draw attention to it in this presentation to the children right at the beginning of our Church year. The Holy Family is deliberately placed in the centre of the focal shelf, so that children can see it as soon as they are welcomed by the door-person at our door, and as they enter our circle on the carpet. 

The Holy Family is the matrix—the Latin word for womb—out of which new life comes. This story is the story of the re-creation of the universe. Christ’s incarnation changes everything. Most especially, it changes the way we understand ourselves, each other, the Creator and the created world around us. 

After you’ve watched the story, you might like to ask the wondering questions again – pausing after each question to leave enough time for your child to ponder and respond, if they wish – if they don’t that’s okay! I would encourage you to accept and affirm all answers simply by repeating exactly what the child said.

The wondering questions are:

  1. I wonder what part of the Holy Family you like best?  (Affirm by saying – “You liked XXXXXX best”). *where XXXXXXX is whatever the child said
  2. I wonder what part of the Holy Family is the most important part? (Affirm by saying – “The most important part of the Holy Family is XXXX”.)  *where XXXXXXX is whatever the child said
  3. I wonder if you have ever seen any of the Holy Family in our church? (Affirm by saying – “You’ve seen the HF XXXXXXXX”.  *where XXXXXXX is whatever the child said  Or “You haven’t seen the HF in our church”) 
  4. I wonder if there is any of the Holy Family that we can leave out and still have all the Holy Family we need?  (Affirm by saying – “The part of the Holy Family we could leave out and still have all we need is XXXX”.)  *where XXXXXXX is whatever the child said

After the wondering, while we don’t direct children in their work, some suggestions might be:

  •  that they draw or paint the Holy Family, or find some of their toys to represent it.
  • That they draw or paint the place where they have seen the Holy Family in church
  •  that they draw or paint their own family
  • Or…..