Today’s small group ministry session based on resources from is about Play. As a Sunday school teacher of preschoolers, I am constantly reminded of the importance of play in one’s spiritual life. So much so, in fact, that I’d like to encourage you to take a peek at another teaching story that I didn’t include in this session. It’s about why Sufis respect the play of little children, and you can find it here. And if you feel like you could use a little more play in your spiritual life, consider signing up to teach Sunday school yourself this coming year.

Chalice/Candle Lighting

Opening Words:

The comic spirit masquerades in all things we say and do. We are each a clown and do not need to put on a white face.
—James Hillman



A Teaching Story from Breath Sweeps Mind: A First Guide to Meditation Practice edited by Jean Smith

This collection of essays focuses on Buddhist meditation practice. The following story illustrates that playfulness should accompany any kind of spirituality.

The Christian Desert Fathers tell of a new student who was commanded by his master that for three years he must give money to everyone who insulted him. When this period of trial was over, the master said, “Now you can go to Alexandria and truly learn wisdom.” When the student entered Alexandria, he met a certain wise man whose way of teaching was to sit at the city gate insulting everyone who came and went. He naturally insulted the student also, who immediately burst out laughing. “Why do you laugh when I insult you?” said the wise man. “Because,” said the student, “for years I’ve been paying for this kind of thing, and now you give it to me for free!” “Enter the city,” said the wise man. “It is all yours.”

Questions: The greatest criticism of religious and spiritual people is that they take themselves too seriously. What role does humor play in your faith, and why is it important to you?

Check-out/Likes and Wishes

Closing Words:

Play exists for its own sake. Play is for the moment; it is not hurried, even when the pace is fast and timing seems important. When we play, we also celebrate holy uselessness. Like the calf frolicking in the meadow, we need no pretense or excuses. Work is productive; play, in its disinterestedness and self-forgetting, can be fruitful.
— Margaret Guenther in Toward Holy Ground

To Practice This Thought: Ponder the role of crazy wisdom in your life.

Group Session Plan based on resources on Play from

For a PDF version of this small group ministry session, click here: Play.

For more information on small group ministry, visit the UU Small Group Ministry Network.