In our usual pattern, this month would have been Messy Play, so here are some more ideas for things you might do together at home. And if none of these take your fancy, you might like to look back to our last Messy Play session, or there are loads more ideas on the Messy Church Pinterest board.
Make your own face in pizza
There's endless room for creativity in this one. Use a ready made pizza base, make your own dough, or try something different and use a slice of toast or tortilla wrap. Get ready by chopping up your favourite pizza toppings (or whatever's in the fridge!) and then slather your base in tomato puree or your own pizza sauce and cover it in cheese. Finally assemble your toppings to make a self portrait. Olives for eyes? A button mushroom nose? The pizza is your canvas!
Get modelling with playdough
If you've not got any in the house, or this is the moment when you realise it's all dried out, this recipe uses household ingredients and only takes a few minutes to make. Although in light of the Great Flour Shortage of 2020, you may need to decide between this and the pizza! Once you've got your playdough, you can let your imagination run wild. Will it become a menagerie of animals or a scary monster or a garden full of flowers?
Build a den
Perhaps you've got some garden canes at the back of the shed that could be fashioned into a teepee, or a stack of old boxes you've never gotten rid of that are crying out to turned into a cardboard fort, or maybe there's some crawl space under your bed that you can make snug with pillows and hide with your duvet, or your clothes airer can be repurposed into a tent by draping it with a sheet. Grab whatever you have to hand and make yourself a den. Then you just have to decide what it's for. A story tent? A bear cave? A kids only hideaway with a secret password?
Take up another holy habit
Last time it was all about sharing, this time we have a mini session on gladness.
Ask everyone to choose something they can share with everyone else. It could be a toy or a joke or song or... They have one minute to think of or find it.
Light a candle as a way of praying or focusing on the time you will share together.
Explain that today we’re thinking about being happy. There's lots to feel sad about, especially at the moment, but the writer Luke says that the first Christians had ‘glad and generous hearts’ (Acts 2:46) even though in some ways there lives were really hard, so perhaps Jesus can help us find ways to be glad even when we're sad.
Play the Giggle Game. One person tries to make the other people laugh or smile. They can do anything except touch them. Once the tiniest smirk passes across the face of another person in the group, that person becomes the one who tries to make someone else smile or laugh in turn.
Listen or sing along to 'Oh Happy Day'. Talk about what you have to be happy about. Write your answers down on bits of paper and put them around the candle.
Read what Paul wrote to the Jesus-followers in Philippi – remember both Paul and the Philippians were being thrown in prison and beaten up for following Jesus, so you could say they didn’t have much to be happy about. Read Philippians 4:4-9 then ask everyone which word or phrase stands out to them. The first Jesus-followers were so excited about Jesus dying and coming back to life that everything else seemed small by comparison. Jesus had given them a happy ending, and they celebrated that, even if things were hard in their lives. Talk about what it means to celebrate, even when things are tough. Or look at the emojis on someone’s phone and decide which are the best three to go with this passage.
Take it in turns to pick up one of the words on pieces of paper from round the candle and turn it into a prayer of praise to God. It can be as simple as ‘Jesus, we praise you for…’
Blow out the candle to mark the end of this special time of thinking about gladness.
We hope you have fun with some of these ideas, and we'd love to see and hear what you've got up to, so please do share in the comments or over on our Facebook page.
Leigh (who has been posting these blogs) starts six months of maternity leave at the end of this month. The intention is to carry on sharing material (and hopefully get back to meeting) while she is away, but this will likely happen through the Messy Church mailing list.