We call this a play Sunday, and we do it whenever there is a 5th Sunday in the month. It takes us out of our normal routine of Physical, Cerebral, Spiritual and Service, but is a an important and relevant part of what we do together.
One of the most valuable things about Missing Peace is the relationships. And having fun together is an important part of building relationships. Play helps create trust, improves social skills, teaches cooperation, and can even heal emotional wounds. Valuable for adults and children alike. Jesus often tells his disciples to be like children…the value of play must be at least part of the reason.
It’s also important to our overall health. I read in a psychology today article recently, “Recreational deprivation has been linked to criminality, obesity, and declining creativity.” They go on to say, “Play is a banquet for the brain, a smorgasbord for the senses, providing nourishment for body and spirit: sad then that as a society we seem to be starving ourselves of it.” It’s a bit of a paradox, but play is serious business!
Now I don’t know about you, but I never really associated church with play. More often church has felt like some kind of guilt induced obligation. Dare I even say punishment? Sure, there was some good times at youth group along the way, but not in church-church.
However, there is much to be said in scripture about having fun. Ecclesiastes is where we get the phrase, “Eat, drink and be merry!” There are a ton of festivals and celebrations woven into the ancient texts of the Old Testament. And perhaps best of all, the first miracle story of Jesus is about a party, a wedding specifically, running out of wine and him making more. That’s enough for an invite to my next party.
I think as a culture we’ve gotten mixed up between sacred and somber. I once went on a mission trip to Kenya. When we went to small church in a little village near Nairobi, it was anything but somber. There was dancing and singing and shouting and laughter. It was a bit of a culture shock, but also made it clear to me these folks were joyful and excited about faith and church and their spirituality.
The church of the US will never look like the church in Kenya. But we can learn from them. We can learn how to make joy, laughter and fun part of our faith experience. We can acknowledge that these things are important, and dare I say vital parts of who we are created to be. So let’s play. Let’s be like children. Let’s eat drink and be merry. And Let’s have some fun!