Monday, February 25, 2013

Godly Play: Jonah, the Backwards Prophet

The story of Jonah is one that I like to tell either before or during Lent, because it deals with the theme of returning to God, which is what Lent is all about. 

We heard the story again on Sunday, and I told it very differently than when I told it the first time last year. From what I have read in my personal theological studies, the original audience would have understood Jonah to be a comedy about a bumbling prophet, who does everything except what a prophet is really supposed to do. I realized that I had been way too serious in my storytelling the first time, so I intentionally tried to be a lot more playful this time in my tone of voice and how I moved the figures around on the felt.

The children that I was with also seemed to have more fun with the story this time around as well. During the Wondering, the first time around, the children seemed incensed that God didn't severely punish Jonah for being such a jerk. This time around, they seemed to just laugh at Jonah and see the irony in his actions.

The Wondering for this story is always particularly good, because the biblical account doesn't give us a conclusive ending. Jonah pitches a temper tantrum with God in the desert,  because he wants Nineva to be destroyed. Then, God patiently asks him why he (God) should not have compassion on the 120,000 people and the many animals that live in the city.  And that's how the story ends. One of the Wondering questions in the Godly Play story is how the children would end the story. One child answered that he would have Jonah go back to Nineva and buy ice cream for all the poor people in the city. Gosh, I sure hope that Jonah ended up doing something like that!

During the Response Time, one child drew this picture below. She explained that the flying figure is Jesus coming close to Jonah, "because God came close to Jonah at the end of the story instead of punishing him". What a great revelation of God's mercy and grace!

And on a different note, my on-line friend, Caro from Naturkinder, writes her blog in her native German, but always includes a summary in English. She's inspired me to try this as well. If I wrote each post in both languages, I'd never get anything written, but I do realize that not everyone in Germany wants to read a long post in English, so here goes . . . 

Am Sonntag hörten wir die Godly Play-Geschichte, "Jona, der unmögliche Prophet" in der Kinderkirche. Diese Erzählung passt gut zur Fastenzeit, weil es um das Thema "Rückkehr zu Gott" handelt. 

Diesmal habe ich die Geschichte viel spielerische als letztes Jahr erzählt, da die ursprüngliche Bibelgeschichte eher wie eine Komödie spielt. 

Wenn du dich mehr für die Godly Play-Pädagogik interessiert, kannst du hier schauen. Sie ist ziemlich verbreitet in Deutschland und es gibt einen Verein, Godly Play Deutschland e.V., dafür. 

Linked to Montessori Monday at Living Montessori Now

and Waldorf Wednesday at Seasons of Joy


  1. This is a good reminder. My storytelling style, too, is often not as playful as it perhaps should be.

    1. I've learned a lot about being more playful from the German storytellers. They are also asking the question, "Where are the playful moments?" in whatever story they are working on.

  2. I loved that drawing, Sheila! Indeed, a great revelation))
    The material is beautiful, too. Love the boat.

  3. I loved hearing about your more playful version of the Jonah story, Sheila! And I loved the children's responses! :) Deb @

    1. Thank you, Deb! You are always such an encouragement!

  4. Replies
    1. Sounds yummy! Maybe we should invent a new flavor?