Sunday Reflection: Beyond Words

Somedays the words don’t make their way to the paper, even though I am still being influenced by this weeks readings.

It is weeks like this that I think of children with their limited vocablaries, those through illness or accident with limited capacity to verbalise or write. Sometimes in our lives our emotions overide our capacity to express ourselves in a verbal or written sense. I know that like me, when words fail, we have other ways of praising, sharing, expressing ourselves.

And 10% of us are dyslexic. I remember my own daughter’s struggle to find God was frustrated by worship material only being available in written format, where Sunday School meant reading aloud from the Bible and then responding to written question. She was not alone, I struggled too in trying to find material that she could relate too. Messy Church has only been around for a decade and though Godly Play has been around for decades, a product of the Berryman’s own search to find a good way of teaching children, especially their own daughter, it was not until after my daughter had walked away from the church that my studies introduced me to this method.

This is one of the reasons I often suggest play, singing, colouring-in, or craft as a response to the RCL readings in this weekly blog. Why I move away from wordsearches, written responses to questions, or private reading when I make suggestions for All-age or Family based worship.

As a teacher, I have always used multi-sense methods of teaching, never one method alone.

Like Godly Play I am influenced by the work of Montessori, but also Steiner, even though I teach and have been educated through the mainstream channels, where more theorists are using multi-sensory models now.

For those of you who follow me on Facebook or Instagram some of what is below you willl have seen.

Everything was a response to the Bible readings either this week or last week.

They were as much an outpouring of my response as a production for other’s consumption, that is they were my spiritual response. I hope they spark a response in you.

This was my response to Ephesians 6:10-20, every one is putting on protective gear these days, so I extrapolated away from the idea of Roman war attire as appropriate to the time of writing and thought about our present day situation

I created a game board for the same reading. You need to print 2 then cut one up and then match up the protective garment pictures.

At the start of the week, I created some inspiration to bring a spiritual dimension into our 2 hour exercise walks(where I live we are in lockdown due to the rising presence of th COVID-19 infection, delta varient, and the lack of innoculations). This had been inspired by Ephesians 5:15-20. Use the ideas each day to find Biblical references or to spark prayer.


Wendy L.

If you would like to use any of these please acknowledge my work, thank you.


Sunday Reflection: Preaching’s not for Children?

During the week, I had the good fortune to attended a local preaching conference.It was well run, had great speakers, motivated us and was an absolute delight to participate in. I should have been on the other side of the world, but as these things happen the fires that are heavily affecting two countries, America and Australia, put paid to business/social plans and so I was able to attend this instead. And I was excited, still am, but there was one thing, that niggles at me for the two days, this conference, for Ministers of the Word, assumed that their audience was over 18 years of age, understood English, and were educated to Tertiary level at a time when listening and contemplation were necessary skills for learning.

It did throw a nod to the mentally ill, first generation Australians, and a brief reference by one of the key note speakers to the fact that there is only one reference to mass gatherings and preaching while most other references of Jesus’s teaching in the Gospels was through stories and small group discussions.

Given that the convener was an ex-teacher and Chaplain at that, I was surprised by this oversight. I found the response that it was the responsibility of another department of the Church, unsatisfying. It perpetuates the idea that children are not part of ministry. Yet if we take the view that Preaching is more than the sermon, the whole construct of the service, children are still present for a third of the time in a traditional format, ie leaving through the service to attend Sunday School. These little jugs have ears, they see, hear, feel, even if the ecclesiastical arguments are beyond them. Failing to include the worshipping child in a conference on Preaching is an oversight, a mistake of history, but one that could so easily be addressed. Is it really, too hard to invite the presence of another department? Aren’t we in the business of integration!

And it is not just an issue with this conference, I spoke to some of our Minister’s that had attended an American Preaching conference earlier in the year, not one, recounted in their experience of the example of preaching with children.

Until the walls come down between child learning and faith formation, and adult worship the divide that exists between children and adults in the worshipping community will continue, while we still see that it is not important to give our best leaders to the children, we are not being true to Matthew 18: 1-5. We can do better, it takes a bit of thought and effort, but we are really close, if we just think a bit more broadly.


Wendy L.

Sunday Reflection: Hosea 11:1-11 and Hosea 1:2-10

Between last week and this week, if you have been reading the RCL First Reading often mistakenly (even by me) known as the Old Testament Reading, you will notice that there is a theme of parental images for God. Last week’s reading had very female images of procreation and childbearing, while this week the images of God are paternal. Both are used to describe aspects of the Almighty, not exclusively one nor exclusively the other. We see these strong images for God, and they resonate within us, either to our male or femaleness, and in reflecting God we reflect these aspects.

Gender issues at present, seem to be of importance in Australia. Diversity and unconditional acceptance are also being championed. Those involved in Child and Family Ministry know they live in this world where gender is fluid and families take many forms.  But sometimes the faith communities that we work in can appear isolated from the generalist views. Such communities would be shocked by my discussion of gender, their theologies may work a different interpretation of these pages.

So, how do we work in both worlds where the views are seemingly at odds with each other. We look at scripture and our practical deeds combined they are not separable. We get pulled and pushed from within and without, where our actions frame our theologies and our theologies frame our practices as we discern our actions.

We, are not alone in this, the Wesleyan Quadrilateral has been professing this for 300 years. The Child Theology Movement has been asking us to do the same in the last 2 decades.

Then we have these two passages studied Sunday about, offering God in female metaphor and God in male metaphor, and they are both God, God hasn’t changed just the frame from which we are working has, the way that we are talking. Both in the same book, book embracing us to have a personal relationship with God[1].  Gender indiscriminate. Yes, we can go out there and speak with the current society and even speak their language. A feminist view of God is still a view of God, etc. It is about how we open up to that personal relationship. If Jesus can talk with the woman at the well whose marital status was fabricated, we can stand with the multiplicity of family dynamics to encourage them into a personal relationship with God, regardless of their gender makeup or family misgivings, and then if we are not pulled apart we can stand with the congregation, our larger family and help them understand and accept in the way that we have been taught.

Families are not easy communities, ministering to families is not an easy calling. Getting the balance right is a tightrope act that really requires God’s input. Both, families and Child and Family workers need to know the person of God, in all its complexities and they both need communities that understand and can walk with them.

Congregations, don’t box your Child and Family workers in, give them a voice and let them use their training, which is practical theology, your congregation will grow in depth if you allow them to practice all their skills, preaching, theological study and care of the families, all the church family of your congregation.

There may also be less Child and Family Worker burnout.


Wendy L.

[1]Renita J. Weems, Battered Love: Marriage, Sex, and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets, Introduction: A Metaphor’s fatal Attraction, ( 1995, Fortress Press,  Minneapolis) P. 33

A Christmas Revelation

I had a revelation of my own during last Sunday’s service.

The First RCL reading (1 Samuel 2:18-20,26) and the Gospel reading (Luke 2:41-52) were very child centred narratives. And I had missed it, caught up in all the silliness of the season as well as the business of the season I managed to not see what should have been obvious to me. That these 2 narratives contained very strong stories of the “child in the centre”. Both Samuel and Jesus as children, were the centre of the narratives. Both had very strong faith experiences as well as leadership opportunities as a child. In fact, from the 25/12 till the 6/1 we were reading very child centric texts. Not only was Christ born to fulfil God’s plan but his existence was God’s plan. He was not waiting for it to come to a spectacular end but he was living his faith confident of who he was from the beginning.

Contrasting the older story of Samuel with Jesus shines a reminder that children’s participation in faith is not new, it has always been at the heart of God’s purpose. Looking back, we see that like a child, these stories connect past with present with future, even as we hear them in our own time. And that while we also hear at this time of the year the usual themes and stories, that there is still much to explore in the narratives today. For example, the “Jesus was a refugee” theme has been picked up loudly this year, even in Children’s literature ( But have we also forgotten that these stories are child centric, and that we need to hear that message too.

The Child Theology Movement, in raising the awareness of the child in our literature and the significance of placing the “child in the middle” (as per Matthew 18:3), asks not just that we read the scripture through this lens but that we apply this understanding in a practical manner. In Matthew, we have a child leading the discussion, in Samuel a little later on (1 Samuel 3:1), he is setting the initiative. Both children are confident in themselves and their faith. We are being given practical examples of how to be inclusive in both narratives, If we do not pause in this busy Christmas time, to not just adore the thought of a baby, to consider the gift of a child, but to render practical application as the Innkeeper did by finding room, then there is plenty of inspiration in these stories to remind us to be that “innkeeper” for a child, from making space in our hearts to making space in our congregations so that all may witness and use their gifts as Samuel and Jesus did as a child.

This week, such a special Sunday, as the Epiphany is celebrated on a Sunday; a child is still the centre of the story, and this time we are shown the practical response of wise men bringing their gifts, gifts that suit what is to go ahead in his life. The practical aspect of this narrative is to discover and use what “gifts” we can bring to the children of our congregations, and all that we encounter, to guide and enhance their life experiences.

God placed a child in our midst


Wendy L.



What does a Quokka have to do with worship?

Please meet our QuokkaIMG_2629

a toy version of an Australian marsupial

You may well ask “what are you showing us that for?  then even ask ” But he belongs on the other side of the country anyway?” if you know a little something about Quokka’s and where I write from, Melbourne, Australia.

He is our latest attempt to satisfy Church Councils Outreach objectives.

I have been working with an amazing group of people, everyone blessed with a different skill set, but everyone focused on finding ways to engage the community in which we live. They are also unique in that they all implicitly have an understanding of spiritual formation.

My favourite book  on  Children’s Spirituality is one by Rebecca Nye ( Children’s Spirituality- What is it and Why it matters, 2000, Church house London). It explains why such a diverse bunch as our group could understand it so well, even when being blessed with very different skill sets. And though Nye differentiates Adult spirituality as being about particular experiences (p.7) and children’s as being more holistic (p.8), she does concede that they are connected in two ways, “first, a key task for adult spiritual maturity is to “become like a child” —–Secondly, children become adults and so carry forward their spiritual formation.(p.11). Speaking for my self I would be honoured if you think I’m spiritually “Childish”.

So though Methodism started with an outreach to the worker, we, in what could be defined as an “affluent suburb”, saw our mission as reengaging the community with the idea of worship. The thing that is missing from their lives.

Don’t get me wrong we do participate in some traditional forms of mission. But we have a steady stream of community who use our facilities everyday for everything other than the purpose they were built for, too worship.

Now I don’t think Quokka, chosen because he is Australia’s most photogenic marsupial, after a few alternative suggestions, can do that on his own.

We have employed him to hold signs up around the sanctuary during the week to educate anyone curious about what happens in that space.

Here is our Minister in one of the signs In Church Pulpit, I have his permission to use this one (that’s trust!). We have used simple words and a picture of the area of the church in use, so that all may understand.

We have also used the signs to make a book.

We have created a families worship space at the front of the church, IMG_2619IMG_2619and are creating a children’s activity space in the foyer, where caregivers who feel that they need to leave the service can go, and where our youngest visitors during the week will always be welcome to read, play or rest.

Many of our parishioners, take the time to smile or say hello to those that use our facilities, we have a new website, multimedia slide presentations. We have a fountain made for an anniversary by the children of the congregation that attracts all visitors.

We don’t have a child and family minister, ( just an ex one).

We are still a missional church our outreach audience and methods are a little different, that’s all. But hey, wasn’t Jesus, a little different too, and encouraging of the children in the communities he preached! We hope that we have followed in that.

So what is your mission, and how does that include children’s spirituality.


Wendy L.


In our culture it is very important to be inclusive, and it seems to involve labelling. Dyslexic, Asperger’s, LGBTQ, food intolerances, disabled etc.

I know from personal experience that finding the right label can be liberating, “It does have a word, I do fit into a subset of the human race”.

What I love about being a Christian is that my label, does not exclude me from being part of the body of God, I have a place, my brother, my daughter and I can all carry labels in today’s world but in God I am an important part. I love the inclusive passages of Ephesians 2:11-22, because they remind me that I have a place.

When my daughter was diagnosed as severely dyslexic (2 standard deviations from the norm), she loved the diagnosis, we could get the right help, she started to flourish, she now has a Master’s in Business from a very well recognised University. But I looked for the stories of people with dyslexia in our community to help her, especially sport stars as that was her passion, and this was made easier by a book the Dyslexic Association produced.

But I didn’t look to the Bible for stories of how God used people that had difficulties to further His will. I regret this oversight. There are so many great stories, from Abraham’s damaged hip, Moses, who was not a great orator, so God sent his brother to help out, to Paul who struggled with an infirmity that was never named. Even those people with illness that Jesus cured had a purpose in their disability, be it physical, mental or social. All furthered God’s Kingdom.

We can find some stories in the Children’s story books, but often they gloss over the hard realities. It is up to us as parents/caregivers and those in ministry to make sure those who need to hear the full story do so.

One of my favourite books at the moment is Matthew Paul Turner’s When God Made You, is such a beautiful Book to show children how special they are to God. I am sorry for those who want more explicit statements about the current labels who are fighting to be recognised in our community, you will not find that in this book. The Pictures of David Catrow follows one child, who may or may not be a minority citizen depending on where in the world you are reading this. For those seeking inclusivity by showing labels this book might not satisfy them. The words are beautiful.

We need a variety of books on faith for children, those with good visuals for young children to see the differences in society, and Bible Storybooks that tell of the differences in our faith stories. As well as ones that show God’s inclusivity, that show the concept beyond the story.

My labels are dyslexic, chronic illness, food allergies and intolerances, they are not the new labels fighting to be accepted by society in general. I do feel for each and everyone of them as they seek acknowledgement and a place in a society in which they feel they don’t have a place, or aren’t accepted for who they are, even those who believe that Christ hasn’t offered them a place. The only label I want is Child of God, to me everything else is superfluous.