Monday, 23 May 2016

Who is God?: Using Symbols to explore the Holy Trinity with children (and adults!)

So yesterday was Trinity Sunday and we bit the bullet and had a go at teaching about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (with as little heresy as possible!)

We decided that the best way of proceeding was just to talk about the many different ways we relate to God and the many different ways that God relates to us, and to do this we gathered a collection of symbols.  The idea was that the children could pick a symbol and describe what they thought it meant in relation to what they know about God and the three persons of the Trinity.  There were no wrong answers!  It helped that Pentecost had been the week before, so Holy Spirit symbols were still fresh in their minds.  

Our basket of symbols contained:

  • a cup
  • play bread
  • rainbow ribbons
  • 'fire' streamers
  • 'water' streamers
  • a bottle of water,
  • a battery operated tea light
  • felt flames
  • wooden people 
  • a globe ball
  • a windmill
  • a cross
  • a dove
  • hearts (including a heart with arms- thank you IKEA!)

Using symbols in such an open-ended way, letting the children respond, suggest and give their own interpretations is both a little scary for the adults (because we have to let go of our control) and also amazingly freeing, because it allows the children to express their relationship with and thoughts about God in ways we might never imagine.  It definitely helped to open up the conversation with children and was equally as fascinating when we let the adults have a go and give us their interpretations of symbols given to them at random.  On every level there was deep theological thinking happening!!

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