During term time, Wednesday often begins with a Facebook status hinting today's Open the Book story. Sometimes my friends can correctly identify it within seconds, on other occasions I am just too obscure and further clues are required. Last week we completed the 3 year cycle of material, so today we started again, with Bob Hartman's wonderful account of creation. As Year 4 were otherwise engaged, we managed to amass sufficient artificial flowers, masks, shapes and toys to give the remaining 150 or so children a prop each, enabling them all to play a part in the story.
January 2012 was where it all began. Now, however, there are only 2 of us left from the original cast. During the 3 and a half years we have had some wonderful people join us, for different reasons and seasons, and then as work commitments or health has changed, they have moved on. There was a point 15 months in where we did not know if we were going to be able to carry on, but an influx of fresh faces regenerated the group, enabling us to continue to go into school each week, with our weird and wacky selection of props. One of the teachers looked at the vast array of artefacts we had assembled today, which in fairness was more than usual, and asked...
"Where do you keep them all? Do you have a huge store somewhere?"
"The large props are kept in a central store, the rest is improvised from what we have at home."
Last week we were given an award by the children in recognition of our work, which was a great honour. They had no idea that it was the last week of Year 3 - a God-incidence I reckon ;) It has taken us more than 3 years to complete the cycle, because we sometimes miss a week or so towards the end of term - depending on the school diary - sports day, school plays, and as we are in a Catholic school, we usually miss one week for Ash Wednesday Mass.
During the three years there have been stories that are well known, but also lesser known passages that have challenged us. While we had no problem with Jesus turning water into wine, we found ourselves questioning "Did the sun really go backwards when King Hezekiah was ill?"
We have learned a lot about how to deliver - adding the 'Miranda' technique of talking to the audience was very helpful to us, and hopefully to the children and staff too! We have laughed a lot, sang, danced, improvised, learned action songs, built relationships with the children and staf, stepped outside our comfort zones week after week - and loved every minute of it! Today, as I watched a reception child absentmindedly nibbling the fins of his paper fish, I thought this is what it is all about - feeding on the Word of God, passing on the Good News to the next generation. Long may it continue!