Archive for outdoors
- A4 Paper & pens
- A flowing river
What to do
People write down things they want to let go of. This could be a number of things such as regrets they are holding onto, people or situations they overly worried about, or a goodbye to someone who has died.
Once this has been written, make a boat out of the paper (click here for instructions).
Take it to a river, and voilà - a simple but potentially powerful act to symbolise letting these things go. For a Christian audience, the focus could be on letting them go and trusting God with them. Or the letters could be written to ask for forgiveness from God for things.
Perhaps you could read a poem or Bible verses, or say a prayer as the boats float away.
The story behind this lil idea
I recently heard some sad news about a friend of mine. I found it difficult to let go of worrying about the situation and to not carry it. This idea suddenly popped into my head on the way back from church after I had asked for prayer for the situation and that I would be able to let it go. In my job as a youth worker in schools I listen to a lot of young people who have difficult and chaotic lives. So I used this idea as an individual act of worship by writing a letter and making a boat out of it for my friend, but also for each of the young people that I need to make sure I don’t carry. I think I will do this from time to time to make sure I let these things go and trust God with them.
Some of what I wrote in the letters the young people had told me in confidence. So I did not write any names in it, or anything that they would be able to be identified from. Perhaps being overly cautious, I stuck another piece of plain paper over each letter before I made it into a boat so no writing was visible – just in case!
I’m not sure it’s very eco friendly to be putting paper in rivers! I should look this up sometime and perhaps use eco friendly bio degradable paper. You may want to consider this if you are making more than a few boats.
My final consideration is that the swans thought that I was bringing them some lunch. In future I hope not to disappoint by providing them with something a bit more nutritious as a side order for the paper boats.
Things needed: Stable (or local B&B), candles, torches.
During advent last year we held one of our evening services in a stable. I was so unbelievably excited about this service from the time the idea popped into my head, until…well I’m still pretty excitable about it, and already looking forward to next year’s one. But despite this fact, I managed to tame my extrovert tendencies and not tell the whole world about it before the event. So it was all a bit of a surprise for everyone.
This is how the service ran:
- Everyone arrived at the church knowing only that we might be going outside for a bit, so they should wear warm clothing. I asked them all to write down on a piece of paper their answer to the question ‘What signifies Christmas for you?’ (If I had had the resources I would have got them to write this on a stone).
- We then walked to a local B&B (owned by a member of our church) which had a stable out the back. I had put some fairy lights up beforehand and made a couple of benches with hay bails and wooden planks. I had also placed a candle in the center on a table.
- As people arrived they all received a candle and a service sheet. The service was then fairly reflective and contained liturgy, carols, a poem, and some readings (if you would like a copy of the service sheet let me know).
- At the end of the service people were invited to respond to the message by making sure Jesus was the significant thing for them this Christmas (said in a less cheesy way than that!). If they wanted to, they could place the piece of paper (from the beginning of the service) around the central candle.
- We then enjoyed some hot spiced apple (Mulled wine spice with Capella apple juice) and mince pies.
If you don’t happen to have a stable near your church, you could always ask around at local B&B’s to see if you could go there and have a service out the back somewhere because there’s no room for you to have it in the inn…