Monday, November 19, 2012

Forgiveness Haiku

For almost half a year, my church has been experimenting with what we're calling Worship Together, designed to be more of a family service.  I first wrote about it here.  After the first month of our new service, I wrote a post about the advantages to the service here and the disadvantages here.

Yesterday was one of the days when the family service felt like the more successful things we do.  I don't go to the early service at 8, but it's always been sparsely attended.  I go to the "blended" service at 11, after the family service at 10, because my spouse sings in the choir.  It's interesting to attend both the family and the blended service.  Yesterday, although the 11 a.m. blended service had more people in attendance, the Worship Together service felt so much more vibrant.

Yesterday, the energy level at the Worship Together service was palpable.  We sing one song, usually one that we work on for several weeks.  We learn both to sing it and to sign it.  Yesterday, we were finally pulling it all together; we were able to sing and do most of the signing.

The singing and signing time was only one manifestation of the energy.  We break into small groups to model the kind of behavior that we'd like families to do at home, ideally each day.  We talk about the highs and lows of the last week, and we talk about the Bible reading--hopefully we make connections.  We also pray for each other and bless each other. 

Some weeks, we also do an additional interaction with the Bible text.  One week, when we studied the reading about building a house on sand and a house on a rock, we did a dramatization with items given to us and items we found.  I remember that day swirling a piece of blue cloth as I impersonated the storm.  I swept aside the structure made with paper cups on "sand."  I was careful not to knock down what we'd built on a "rock."

Yesterday we wrote forgiveness haiku.  After having a Psalm about forgiveness, a song, one of Jesus' parables about forgiveness, and several weeks of suggestion, we had lots of material.  We wrestled with the central element of haiku--how to get what we wanted to say in just 17 syllables.

It was great. We counted out syllables on our fingers. We discussed the most powerful haiku possibilities. We did some revising. Everyone could do this project, from the smallest children to the older adults.  It engaged us in a completely different way than singing or creating a drama or having a conversation does--and that's the value of our approach, the way we explore a topic from all sorts of directions.

We had three groups, and each group wrote a haiku on a larger sheet of paper, and if there was time, we could do additional decorating.  We then presented the haiku to the larger group.

This project would work well in Sunday Schools and for retreats too.  If I'm the Arts and Crafts Director for next year's Vacation Bible School, maybe I'll think about incorporating haiku.

My pastor has created a lovely video which you can see by going here.  If you want to hear the haiku, go here.

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