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Pray – Play

Jesus and children

In a recent comment, someone referred to Christian vestments as “playing dress up”. As is so often the case with digital comments, I cannot judge the tone of this comment, nor the attitude of it’s author. But comments like that are often made with a tone of denigration.

As if dressing up is somehow wrong. Beneath us. Something we mature people have grown out of. Or we need to grow out of. Or we should have grown out of.

child and Jesus

Playing is acting how we want things to be in the future. In a fun way. And as we play, what we are playing, little by little, can become a reality.

In a way that is church – we play now how we hope one day the world might be, and by playing we begin to make it so.

children & Jesus

Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’

Jesus & toddler

Following Jesus’ example we pray with, we play with, bread, wine, water, oil, candles,… They are for us prayerfully, playfully,…

I have written previously about (children’s) play as a model for liturgy. “As children we play at what may one day become a reality.” (Celebrating Eucharist Chapter 1).

young people and Jesus

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’

When un-playful science and the god of money are what drive us as individuals and as a society, we are the most to be pitied. We need a little child to lead us.

Jesus and child

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8 Responses to Pray – Play

  1. I find it rather sad that somebody would compare wearing vestments to “playing dress up”. Vestments are special, they hold deep meaning and are about as old as Christianity itself; many of the vestments that clergy wear today, such as albs and chasubles, derive from types of clothing that would have been worn by people of the 1st-4th centuries AD. Wearing vestments isn’t playing dress up, it’s recalling the origins of our faith.

  2. “Vestments are special, they hold deep meaning”

    Only if you’re looking at it with the insider’s perspective: to the 99.99% outside they look silly.

    But there is a different line of attack against critics of “dressing up”: other people do it too. Any time I’m working on contract with a bank I have to forgo my normal open-neck shirt and but on jacket and tie. This is dressing up: but there’s no play in it, just a requirement to be conformed to someone else’s whim.

    I regret to say that most of the liturgy works the same way where I’m concerned: the only opportunity for “play” I ever found in church was the preaching of the Word. When theNew Wine crowd took that away there was nothing left, so I walked.

    • My sympathy is with you, James.

      I don’t think the only two options are “dressing up” or “conforming to someone else’s whim”. I think there are other options along a spectrum stretched between those. They include the uniform at a sports game and working in a cafe. There are rules, conventions in both – and an ability to play within those constrictions. The rules and conventions enable the play – they do not prevent it. I wonder if you might enjoy my talk.

      I have no idea what “the New Wine crowd” refers to, sorry. And how they take away preaching.

      You might consider telling me a bit of your “I walked” story – privately via the website’s email.

      Blessings.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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