The Ministry of Cutting Things Out

The Ministry of Cutting Things out, or: Reflections on Mothering Sunday

IMG_20160306_120828I went to church today. Nothing remarkable about that: I am, after all, a trainee vicar. It’s what I am meant to do. However, I can count on one hand the times recently I have been to a main church service on Mothering Sunday. (Last year I was at St Andrew’s, Alresford – guessing it might be my last non-working Mothering Sunday for a while, I popped in to surprise my mum).

I am one of those people for whom Mothering Sunday services can be dreadful. I won’t rehearse the reasons, that’s not what this post is about.

But. Today was a challenge. Today, I was preaching at an all-age service. Twitter friends will know that I struggled a bit preparing the talk… my supervisor sent me encouraging emails during the week as I was unusually tardy in being able to suggest hymns… but finally, I found a thing that would work. I don’t have access to huge amounts of craft supplies, so this was fairly basic.

I thought I would share the idea.

Who cares for us? was my starting point… and I wanted to make this more about community and everyone who cares. I had been thinking about paper chain people, but in reverse. So I cut out a number of paper people – using this template printed as large as I could get on A4 paper. (In the process I discovered that 7 sheets of A4 is the most I can cut at once). As people came into church they were given a couple of paper people and some pens. Of course most of the kids started colouring straight away, which was an added bonus.

During the talk I asked people to draw themselves (or write a their name) on one of the people, and a bit later, we added one or more people that had cared for us. Then, I stapled them together to make a paper chain – ta-da – community!

We ended up with several metres’ worth due to industrious people production by some of the children. Adults who weren’t so much into colouring in could write names instead.

I was quite pleased how this worked, but already have several ideas that could make this a better idea:
– more than one stapler would have been quicker
– different coloured paper and different sizes of people
– I hadn’t thought through what to do with the paper chain once created, it might have been good to have hung it up or taken it to the altar
– music or singing during the stapling process
– if the people were on card, I could punch holes in their arms to join with ribbon / string – it could be a messy church activity with participants decorating (GLITTER!)

There was an opportunity during prayers for people to light a candle which gave space for the difficult things, and I should have flagged this up during the talk.

On the whole, though, I was happy with this activity. And Mothering Sunday was all right, after all.