Posted by: smstrouse | September 19, 2015

Playing God Can Be Fun!

garden-of-eden-art-picture-the-bible-27092885-840-630For this year’s Season of Creation, we’re doing something different. We’re not focusing on our sinfulness and guilt for not taking care of the earth and promising to do better. Instead, we’re looking at how our cosmology (our creation myth) informs – or misinforms – how we see our place in the world.

Last Sunday, we read the story from Genesis 1, where everything is “very good.” Instead of the usual going through the whole “and then on the next day, God created the  . . .” scenario, we had some fun with it. Before the service, I asked one of our teenagers if he’d like to play God. Silly question; who wouldn’t?! (And just so you know, I asked the teen who showed up first; all genders are welcome to play the God role.) After he enthusiastically (of course) said he’d love to be God, I told him to read his lines with feeling. No wimpy God! When you say, “Let there be light,” say it like you mean it – with drama!

Then, having given “God” his instructions, I went off to speak to the person who would be reading the Genesis passage. He’d already noticed that the congregation had a speaking part. We would respond to each day’s Divine activity with “And so it was!” And finally with “And God saw that this was good!”

So he was ready for something a little different. But, I explained, there would be more. Whenever, the text said, “And God said,” he should stop and allow “God” to speak. OK, everyone was on board; we were good go.

The first time God had a line, I was delighted that our just-confirmed-last-year teen had heard my instructions. His voice boomed out with the best God impression an adolescent boy can do. The really cool thing is that this is a kid who wouldn’t have agreed to read in church a couple of years ago. But he had a transformational experience at Confirmation camp last summer – and sold me (the campaphobe) on the value of that program.

Anyway, all went according to plan for the first few “And God saids”. But then momentum took over and our lector began to keep on reading when it was God’s turn. I admit that this was my fault. Normally, I’d have printed out the reading for each speaker with each part highlighted, so this kind of confusion could be avoided. But it was my second day back from vacation and I hadn’t had time.

Good thing! The confusion is what made it fun. One of the words we use to describe First United is “playful,” and this was a perfect illustration. Instead of grinding my teeth over miscues, mistakes and comments from the peanut gallery (I mean the congregation) – which in my raging perfectionistic days would have been the case – I enjoyed the fun.

There were jokes during the reading about wrangling over who got to be God – hmm, does that sound like what goes on in our lives anyway? It was delightful, too, to see the interaction of generations, as we kept interrupting the adult speaker to allow the teenage “God” to speak and their bantering back and forth.

I can’t help believing that this was the way the story was meant to be told – not in our usual Bible-reading voices, but as a real good story, recounted with feeling, with give and take from the  audience.

Maybe if we do more of this kind of story-telling of our ancient myths, we can reclaim them and reinterpret them as foundations for our lives today. If the Season of Creation is to be more than focusing on confession of sins and promises to do better (not bad things), but a shift in how we see our place in the world, we have to be able to relate our creation myths to the creation story being told by scientists today.

After last Sunday, I think playfulness is a darn good way to begin to do that. I also think that “God saw that this was very good!”

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