Monday, 8 October 2012

Jewish shelters?

I would like to tell you a little story. So please make sure you are sitting comfortably.

Our story begins about a month ago, I took my turn on the tea and coffee rota at church for the first time. This was quite exciting and it gave an excellent opportunity to get to know the lady I was doing it with better. We chitted and chatted about various things, but this was about the time when people in church were starting to make plans for our Harvest Festival and this lady was organising the decorating of the church. The idea was that different groups would create different displays; the Brownies, the ladies' group etc. and she wondered whether the youth group would be up for doing something. I said I was sure we could think of something. We started to talk about different things we could make, I suggested something like bunting or paper chains that we could add to little by little each week as we don't actually have that much time together as a group in which to create something. With that, and not a single word uttered between the former and what I'm about to share, she replied, 'Yes, what a good idea, like Jewish shelters'!

I can't tell you how I kept a straight face - perhaps I didn't and the look of horror was plain to see. For one thing, that didn't sound an awful lot like bunting, for another, it sounded much harder to assemble and for another, surely I'd need to do a fair bit of research into the appearance, reasoning and significance of these structures in order to do them justice at all. Call it a cop-out, but I eventually responded by saying, 'Hmm, yes that's a possibility, I tell you what, I'll ask the young people and see what they come up with'.

This may have been my downfall. The young people came up with the idea of creating papier mache vegetables. Sounds so simple in theory, but in practice, it is difficult to make papier mache look anything but a mess (especially when the night you start you discover your glue has been stolen and you have to improvise using flour and water). Week one we pasted, week two we painted, week three we were thoroughly disheartened by how awful our creations looked. We gave them one last flourish of paint and then decided we'd make a big paper chain anyway as a reserve and if in doubt, we'd say that the Toddler Group made them.

Then on Saturday, to our utter amazement, once dried and placed in a pretty basket, our 'creations'  were transformed from odd and ugly, to rustic and recognisable as vegetables!

A swede, pumpkin, squash, cabbage, red onion and a few potatoes!

So whatever happened to those Jewish shelters we dismissed so quickly, I hear you ask. Well, Sunday's reading came from Deuteronomy, chapter 16, verses 13-17, an Old Testament passage which describes how once a year, the Jews were to abandon all their luxuries and live the simple life in shelters made out of foliage and stuff! The idea behind this is that this would help them realise how many things God really blessed them with and take time giving thanks to him for it. We had a go at making these in the service too:

Two Bethans in our makeshift shelter!
So how's about it? Those Jewish Shelters turned out to be pretty cool, we had lots of fun imitating our Creator with (less than perfect) creations and we got to have lunch together as a church family and give lots of food to the local Foodbank and Soup Run. So I am LOVING harvest - it's not quite happily ever after, but I have definitely found lots to thank God for.