Towards A Theology of Play

20170824_141511.jpg

Towards a Theology of Play

There is plenty of research and writing about the need for enjoying one’s Sabbath time. After a summer of driving my students hard towards a better understanding of God (believing that what we think about God determines how we act and live our lives) by exploring His attributes I wanted to give them a Sunday “off” at youth group. The purpose was less to explain the need for a Sabbath and have one (though we did) than to simply hope to redeem time off for these students. I’m a parent – I wish my son wouldn’t like to almost exclusively play (to my chagrin I realize my cultural conditioning in that statement). On the other hand, our culture makes much of work and commitments while making fun of those who seem to spend their time playfully. The generation coming up is perhaps more stressed than at any other time in history!

Despite this, I’m gaining a bit of a bookish reputation with my new youth group. Since I got here in April we’ve played a few games, but I find this to be a far less important aspect of youth group than helping teach our students a more vibrant faith (Vibrant faith is contagious, disciple-making faith). I’m having fun, I make our youth meetings fun even while we’re doing lessons, and I’m hearing from most all of these students that it is a direction they’re quite pleased with. Let’s be real though, many students come to youth group simply for a breather from “life” and to have some fun in the midst of their busy lives, especially now that school has started.

This past Sunday we had a game night. There was junk food galore, board games spread around, foosball upstairs, some football tossing outside, and an impromptu dodgeball game targeting those of us gathered at the different game tables. We had a blast. With about fifteen minutes left, though, I pulled them aside for a “Gotcha!”

Promised Play

Rather than playing (ha!) into cultural stereotypes glorifying work to the demonization of play, I wanted to help redeem the idea of play for our students and give them an ordained view of playtime (in community).

Psalm 104 celebrates the glory of God’s creation and the diversity of His creativity. Specifically, vv 24-26 speaks of something (Leviathan) created for play! Indeed, you can’t look at some of the creatures in our world and not see a playful Creator God!

Continue reading

Advertisements

At motion, how?

“Death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit” – 21 Pilots

I have to confess my love for 21 Pilots. I am probably supposed to like something more mature or dignified, but my ears like what they like.

At the turn of the new year “heavydirtysoul” is heavy in my mind. I’m not big on resolutions. I’ve failed at keeping so many of them that I decided to quit making them. Rather than one big, herd-like push with all the other resolutionists every Jan 1, I’ve decided to take appropriate, intentional action as a problem comes up or an adjustment needs made in Heather and I’s lives. The weight I carried with me for most of my life? No spur of the moment new year resolution fixed that. Getting fed up being fat and intentionally making changes fixed it when I was actually ready (mature enough) to do something about it.

At the beginning of 2017, as with the end of any year and the beginning of another, I confess that it is difficult not to get a little introspective with where things stand with LIFE. Am I where I want to be? Where do I want to be? Is that where God wants me to be? Am I taking steps towards any or all of those things? This line of questioning could apply to job(s), family situation, living arrangement, passions, hobbies, etc. It inevitably gets a little deeper, though: What moves and inspires me?

….

I can’t judge your inspiration – mine is personal, as is yours. But are you in touch with some Source of inspiration? Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion essentially implies that an object at rest will remain at rest unless it is acted upon by an external force. Do you know what force is acting upon you? Have you intentionally sought out that force and made sure that your influencers are positive ones? Or are you lackadaisically letting any force move upon you… essentially one of the YOLO zombies that 21 Pilots references in their song?

Some of us are moved by family members or friends, culture, the media, religion, etc. There are deeper forces at work in our world, and I worry how many live like the lyric quoted above: “Death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit.”

As the calendar flips to an entirely new year, I pray you are not simply fleeing in your little corner of the world like a rabbit escaping the clutches of a dog’s jaws. Death comes for all of us, but does not have to be a fearsome specter haunting our waking moments. I hope the force acting on your, your source for movement, your muse or inspiration, is not something based in your fear for that is at the very least an exhausting way to live.

One of those other deeper forces at work in our world, I faithfully believe, is God. Not religion. God. An intimate, loving, benevolent, righteous, life-giving, abundance-pouring, sanity-saving, prisoner-freeing, God. Not an abstract thought system to get along with, but a Presence I have experience who has rescued me from the jaws of death… I am no longer a rabbit chased by the dogs. I can stand freely, not afraid of death. My soul is no longer heavydirty, and if your source of movement or force of life is not doing all of that for you, let’s talk.

2016 is over, and a new year is here. I have no resolutions to make. Because of the choices I’ve made, the path my life has taken, and the work to find rightness in this world, I’ve got a path laid ahead because of the divine Force that impacted my life while I was at rest. I pray you find something equally compelling. I pray death is not chasing you but rather something to be faced with confidence. I pray that whatever moves and inspires you (by your intentional choice or not) is life-giving. I pray that 2017 is a year of growth, improvement, challenges accepted, and life given. I’m excitedly planning on it for our family, and it is within reach for you as well. heavydirtysoul? Not anymore. Not ever again. Thank God.