Rock, Paper, Scissors, Pegs (May/Pentecost)

James Cathcart May 07, 2023 0

May/Pentecost 2023 (7 May - 3 June) See the Resource Pack PDF for information on the weekly subthemes and the daily prompts and Bible readings which shape our Daily Worship. Look at our Bible Study Questions PDF to see the material adapted for small Connect groups or personal Bible study. 


Rock, paper, scissors… and what about those pegs?


Rock, paper, scissors… pegs! This month we’re doing a case study on some key shapers of the early church. What can we learn from the rock Peter? What will we uncover from Paul’s papers? What gems glint in amongst the tantalising snippets? And who is Priscilla and why are we talking about pegs!?

This month we begin a new theme trilogy. Over the last six months we have reflected on the breadth and scope of our faith over space. Now we want to zoom in and plant these insights in specific lived examples of faith. So we begin in May by looking at some of the significant shapers of the early church who got in — not so much at the ground floor but at the basement of this brand new movement! Christianity for them was not simply some abstract and fuzzy concept — it was a living and breathing thing they had to come to terms with physically, emotionally, and socially. It inspired, challenged, stretched and fuelled them through tempestuous fluctuating times. So we’re grounding our case studies in four everyday objects.

We have taken inspiration from the playground game rock-paper-scissors with its three interlocking components. Players of rock-paper-scissors must be quick on their feet adapting to the circumstances, like the first disciples. Rock, paper and scissors are ordinary objects too, things woven into the everyday act of existence, like the faith of the early church. Their faith wasn’t a mystical magical thing kept separate from the rest of their lives — it was right in the middle of their everyday living and the daily decisions they made.

Then there’s the tension and friction between the objects… like iron sharpening iron the creative tension between them ratchets up. Scissors beat paper, paper beats rock, rock beats scissors. Embedded in the game is a history of technology. A rock —  essentially the most direct and basic of all tools. Paper an evolving shifting thing over time that has taken many forms from papyrus to parchment — a fundamentally simple object but labour intensive and time consuming to make. And then scissors — an advanced form of craftsmanship relying on a pyramid of multiple other technologies underneath it to work. Indeed even in New Testament times there would have been lots of rocks and versions of paper but no scissors in our machine-made modern sense. Some forms of shears but not the engineered scissors we know today. Scissors represent a complex point in human production capability. And yet even the sharpest edge of technology can be blunted by first principles — when it meets rock.

Human innovation in technology, or the arts, or in the church, is not a straightforward linear journey. It’s more of a spiral moving forwards but in rotations as we discover and rediscover old truths that spin us forward. We might paper over the rocks, and cut the paper to smithereens but then the blades hit a rock and we reevaluate. Rocks are still important just like the bedrock insights in wider culture.

And what about those pegs? There’s no pegs in the game, no alternative to the competition of rock/paper/scissors. But in the early church some tentmakers did see an alternative path — a way of making tents big enough to care for wider society while nurturing something new: God’s vision of who we could be. People forging a way of life outside the rat-race, going against the grain with grace. Living lightly, planting pegs in the soil and welcoming one and all.

So join us as we explore how the early church came together spurring one another on and supporting one another in the midst of their hectic and unsure lives. They were a collection of rocks, papers, scissors and pegs — much more than the sum of their parts.

Just like us.


Nurturing something new: God’s vision of who we could be


SETTING THE SCENE: A visual motif for each week. An optional additional focus point for preparing worship services or multimedia inspired by the material.

SEEDS TO SOW: Open-ended prompts to inspire creative responses to the themes. Perhaps a song, some drawing, or creative writing! They are short and sweet, simply a starting off place for you and your imagination. Expand, tailor and develop as suits you. Often they take the form of a question, to encourage reflection.


Join a Connect Group

Each week of the four week theme runs Sunday-Saturday and has its own subtheme, which contains daily Bible readings and prompts for thought (see the Resource Pack PDF for more information). Check out our Bible Study Questions PDF to see the material adapted for small Connect groups or personal Bible study.