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Church Shapes

Church Shapes

by Rev. Hilary Marchbanks on May 28, 2024

Church Shapes

When God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai,
he gave him the two tablets of the covenant,
tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
~ Exodus 31:18

Each week during the school year, the church staff provides chapel lessons for Grace Garden preschool in Saint John’s sanctuary. The first chapel in August is wild. For new preschoolers, they haven’t yet learned the process, or the songs … or how to sit still. They are kids! Wild, wonderful, wiggly kids.

By the end of the year, they know the drill, they know the lyrics, and they know why they are there – to learn about God's love. For my final chapel lesson in May, I always invite preschoolers to look at the stole around my neck and to look around the sanctuary to tell me what “pictures” they see. Then we talk about all those “church shapes” and what they mean.

A symbol points to something larger than what that symbol is, and even on a little level, these young ones can understand big lessons from “church shapes.”

“Does the bread mean a big meal? Is it a lot of bread?”
“I see a cross shape! That’s a church shape!”
“The three circles keep going and going.”

What signs and symbols do you see when you walk into our sanctuary?

Did you know stained-glass windows in the sanctuary tell a story? They tell our faith story. As you walk in, the windows on the left depict Old Testament stories, and New Testament stories start in the Bethlehem Room (the cry room) on the right side of the sanctuary doors, then run along the right side of the sanctuary. The story starts on the window closest to the chancel on the left. That first window is an image of the Torah scroll, representing the law of Moses.

This summer, we will go through the Ten Commandments in a worship series called “The Best Ways to Live.” This description of the Ten Commandments comes from Rev. Jerome Berryman’s Godly Play program. Godly Play is a language-rich and sensory-engaging Bible curriculum that our children receive in Sunday school at Saint John’s, and in chapel at Grace Garden. Godly Play emphasizes hands-on learning and imagination through storytelling, play, and self-discovery. In each lesson, kids are invited to hear a Bible story or church lesson, wonder about it, and respond to it. Ritual and structure emphasize the importance of these core stories as kids explore their faith.  

This summer, our preachers will share ways the New Testament reinforces the Ten Commandments, these "best ways to live," and how they apply to us in 2024. Together we will take a page from the Godly Play book and wonder how we all can respond to these timeless ways God invites us to live. While symbols, “church shapes,” point to the ways God and our God-stories are bigger than us, they also point back to us as people of God, too.

Church shapes who we are and where we learn, and the "Best Ways to Live" shape how we live together. I can’t wait to learn with you.

Tags: stained glass, ten commandments, grace garden preschool

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