Play and Pray: A Reflection

What I love is exploring the variety of ways in which people experience God and make sense of the world around them.

It’s said that there are four spiritual styles – Word, Emotion, Symbol, and Action – that describe the way we behave and interact differently with each other; why, indeed, we each prefer different styles of worship. Styles that help us to perceive and connect with God.

It’s certainly true, that in creating Liturgy, the Church has learned that taking account of people’s different spiritual preferences when planning worship and learning can enable everyone to connect with God more readily and develop as disciples as we worship God together.

For example, some of us might say we know God when we know about God…we like a formal church service; and singing hymns with beautiful words; and we’re really uncomfortable when worship varies from the familiar structure.

Some of us might say we know God when we can feel God especially when we’re with others…we like singing together with everyone; and baking things to share during our fellowship time in the hall after our service; and we’re really uncomfortable when we can’t actively participate in worship.

Some of use might say we know God when we see the work of God’s hands…we like being alone to wonder about God; and go outside to find God in nature; and we’re really uncomfortable when there are lots of hymns, prayers, and a sermon too!

And some of us might say we  know God because we do the work of God…we like welcoming people as they come into church; and helping to serve refreshments in the hall and clearing up afterwards in the kitchen; and we’re really uncomfortable with joining a prayer, or a Bible study group.

We know that we at St Ninian’s – like many communities of faith – are a pretty diverse congregation; and some spiritual preferences are almost always met in our worship.

Of course, as adults we can choose to attend a church that very particularly suits our own preferences; and as adults we tend to have a mixed spiritual profile.

Our children, however, rarely have the opportunity to choose where they go to worship and learn about the Christian faith; and they tend to have a dominant spiritual preference – Word, Emotion, Symbol or Action.

Ignatian spirituality underpins our Play and Pray Lent course; where we find space to open ourselves in our family groups to experience God in very personal ways, and respond to that experience as we find God in all things – finding in our lives and in our world that the all present and all loving God is active in our world. And in responding to that experience this Lent, we have been discovering that all – everything and everyone – is a gift from God.

Indeed, I’ve been reminded that our children already speak the language of Ignatian spirituality because they have the capability to imagine, to feel, and to reflect.

They know when something feels right or wrong; they know when they’re happy or sad.

We cannot make our children Jesus’ followers – only the Holy Spirit can do that – but we can help them understand Love.

(First published in the April 2014 Newsletter, St. Ninian’s Comely Bank,Edinburgh, adapted from a homely given on Passion Sunday, 2014).

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