Calvary United Methodist Church | 131 West Second Street | Frederick, MD 21701 Church 301-662-1464 School 301-622-6783

Since September, I have participated in a group of pastors working on cultivating playfulness. Each time we come together, we start off with a prayer and then some kind of silly game intended to get us laughing. We have played holiday BINGO, done a scavenger hunt and played “name that tune.” Each time, we end up giggling and our spirits are lifted higher. And we have been working on taking that experience more and more into our family life and the congregations we serve.

Playfulness follows a simple pattern of invitation, permission, and release: We are invited into play (or we invite ourselves). We receive permission to play (or we grant ourselves permission). Then there is the release of falling into playfulness—the moment of joy itself.

Playfulness helps us embrace even mistakes and failure as opportunities. It is a way of moving about in the world ready to be surprised, excited, enthralled, and blessed. Playfulness is key to understanding ourselves and the God who created us, and key to living into the freedom God gives to us in Christ.

Playfulness is essential to human flourishing. Abraham Maslow recognized it in his hierarchy of needs, situating it just under physical needs—food, water, shelter—and safety. Play helps meet the deep human need for love and belonging, for esteem and self-actualization (the pursuit of growth, transformation, and wholeness). It is the oil that helps the engine of life run more smoothly. It’s the glue that holds people—and cultures—together. It brings a lightness to the otherwise often heavy tasks of living.

Playfulness doesn’t stuff emotions down or ignore them; it doesn’t will them away or tell them they’re unwelcome. It notices, nurtures, and grants permission. And then it keeps us from taking ourselves and our problems too serious. Playfulness gives birth to creativity, joy and greater connection with others. Laughter can be the best medicine.

I hope you find some ways to smile, to giggle, to play each day. You and those around you will be better for it.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Steve