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Sacred Story Time

January 23, 2012
Our “tent of meeting.”

Our oldest son (2yo) loves making a “tent” in the living room. We keep a number of blankets in the room, and not a day goes by without him asking us to make a tent with one of them so we can sit under it. Well, usually a Pooh stuffed animal or a toy firetruck also comes with us on these impromptu camping trips. It’s amazing to watch his imagination develop in the process of this simple little activity.

One of the goals my wife and I have for our family is to incorporate regular spiritual disciplines into our family life. We hope to be intentional with this goal, to help us develop a rhythm and be spiritually formed together. Because our children are very young simplicity is key at this point. We do prayer at meals and at bedtime, but wanted to add a way to begin learning the Bible story together at home. As we thought about the fun “tent” game that we play with our son, an idea emerged to use this game to create a new ritual for our spiritual rhythm.

The “tent” is one of my favorite images from the scriptures. It invites us to remember the Israelite journey in the wilderness and especially how God was present with them through this experience, in the “tent of meeting” (Exodus 33:7-11). It was an intentional place to meet with God. With this in mind we created our own little tent of meeting where we could gather and read part of God’s Story (using the Children of God Storybook Bible). We listen to the Bible story and then share the short prayer at the end of each story.

It’s our sacred Story time: a place where we can camp out with God and discover that our stories fit into a much larger Story. We’re going to try to be consistent in practicing this new ritual believing that God will form us through it. We hope that this activity will be a good way for our boys to begin learning God’s Story, and (as they get older) maybe also a way to begin understanding the idea of “God with us.” I’d like to end with a quote from pastor and educator Ivy Beckwith, who has been instrumental in helping me understand spiritual formation with children and in particular the importance of “family ritual”:

Creating sacred space in the home helps children to understand that God is with us everywhere and all the time. It also gives children a space in the home where they know they can go to be quiet and where no one else has permission to disturb them … Gathering at the same worship space each day helps the family to settle quickly into a meditative mood as they each turn their spirit toward God.

[From: Ivy Beckwith, Formational Children’s Ministry: Shaping Children Using Story, Ritual, and Relationship. p.88-89.]

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