Monday, January 14, 2013

What Tempts Us and Redeems Us, in Modeling Clay

At our church, our 10 a.m. service is designed to be more of a family experience, one where we approach the Biblical text from a variety of approaches; we've been using materials from Faith Inkubators, as well as doing some of our own projects.  We learn a song that's related to the Bible reading, and we learn to sign the song.  Some weeks we see a play or a puppet show; in alternate weeks, we study the same text, but use a different approach, often from a creative angle.

We've been studying the text of Jesus being tempted by Satan after 40 days in the wilderness.  Our pastor reminded us that in the Bible, 40 years is shorthand for "a REALLY long time."  I had a few minutes where I thought, hmm, that could explain all the missing years of the early life of Jesus.

But then we were off to our arts project.  We broke into small groups.  Each group had a pack of non-drying modeling clay in 4 colors.  We had a paper plate and plastic utensils, in case we needed help in shaping the clay.

Our assignment:  use the clay to make something which represented a temptation for us.  We put those items around the edge of the paper plate.  Our group created a screen (which could symbolize T.V. or the computer), a boat (oh, the temptations of a big ticket item), a controller (like your old Atari controller, which represents the need to be in control), a teardrop (my contribution, which represents how prone I am lately to fall into despair and hopelessness), and an exclamation point (which represented how modern life can feel like rushing from one stressful event to another).

I was intrigued by the fact that no one in my group talked about food temptations.  In my younger years, I'd have created something representing a high calorie treat.  These years, when I have little time to bake, it's easier to avoid those temptations.

We used the rest of the modeling clay to make a cross, which we put in the middle of the paper plate, rising up from the paper plate.  The cross, of course, represents the way in which our temptations are ultimately put to rest.  We will continue to be tempted, but we're forgiven.

Our group noticed that the cross didn't want to stand up, and while we reinforced it with more clay, we talked about the symbolic aspects.  I love the idea that we had a cross, a symbol of the power of the Roman empire, and all sorts of other powers and principalities, but it cannot stand forever.

Here again is another arts project that can be used in any number of settings:  Sunday School, worship service, and retreats.  It seemed to work well with all ages, from our youngest toddlers to our elderly folks.  It has the benefit of time flexibility too:  it could be a quick exercise or something more leisurely.  All in all, it's another good addition to the creativity toolkit.


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