Lydia Harrison gave a lovely Facebook Live all about this resource on 9 June. Here’s what she said:
I’m here today to talk to you about the Great God-family Picnic, which is the brainchild of the Church of England and Messy Church BRF has contributed some activity ideas. We are really hoping that this resource will be a blessing to you and your church communities. The date of the picnic is 11 July but the resources can be used a time to suit you and your community.
The thinking behind the picnic is exploring how we meet families currently and engage with them in this season of Covid, where guidance is still changing and there is still a lot of re-entry anxiety.
God has called us to live and work with and reach out to families, and we aim to work to enable to them share with us in the good news of Jesus. We aim to be there in the journey of life – good and bad, highs and lows.
The Covid pandemic and lockdown has presented challenges to the ways we can reach out to families – lots of families have had new children but have not been able to have the opportunity to celebrate with their church families, families and friends in baptism and christenings. There is also a lot of anxiety about the world – things are very different and we are isolated. Social encounters with people have been challenged and lacking.
So what do we do now? We know now more than ever that people matter. Relationships matter. Godparents/God-families really matter. Godparents make promises to stand alongside the family to support and bless and to be there and pray for the child they have agreed to godparent. We value and we celebrate this, it is a hugely important part of the baptism service, and it is a life-long commitment. There’s a lot of wisdom shared in this alongside relationship. Sometimes the church undervalues this relationship – so the point of having a God-families picnic is to cherish, celebrate and value all of our wonderful God-families.
It is also important, this year particularly, to connect back with our families after lockdown. The Great God-family Picnic Messy Church resource could be a starting point for some of our Messy Churches to tentatively start back and to reimagine coming back after Covid – and I know our lovely getting going team is working on some masterclasses to help people with this process too. We know our priorities as churches right now are to get back together, to acknowledge the really tough time we’ve all had over the last 18 months and to remember those we have lost. And also to celebrate who we are as a community again. We hope that the resources can equip and enable churches and families to do this.
There has been a lot of work done about wild church, and particularly Messy Church Goes Wild, and we hope that the resource helps and equips people do go out in to their local outdoor spaces, whether that is the church’s garden or yard, or a local park. We’ve chosen activities that explore the natural world, through a scavenger hunt, and through flower bashing, and also help people feel connected to each other, by sending cards to each other or pictures. It’s all about connecting people – helping them to come back together and belong again.
The wonderful pink team has worked together to produce the Great God-family Picnic session – which is now available. We are a brilliant team and we are working on lots of different things to enhance and benefit the whole community, providing Messy Church at home sessions, Messy Church Goes Wild sessions. We’re always looking for new members so if you’d like to join us please do get in touch with Lucy or Jane!
We hope that the resource helps people of different abilities and stages – we strongly encourage you to do what’s right for you, to make the resource your own, taking time to think about what you’re doing. It’s built around the Messy Church values of celebration, celebrating who we are, hospitality with the food at the picnic but also considering the needs of everyone. There should be things in it for people who need to move about and those who need to sit still. Its themed on the feeding of the 5,000, which is a well-known story about sharing our food and hospitality with others. It points us to remember that we are part of something bigger. We want to belong, to a wider community. It highlights the importance of God-families – they are a pleasure, delight and joy.
Sometimes we might lose touch as a God-family, so this event provides an opportunity to get back in touch, too.
So I wonder, what does your God-family mean to you? What do you value and cherish about it?
Let’s spend a moment now in quiet, remembering our God-families and holding them up to God.