Change Up


Second Week in Advent — December 6-12

Change Up!

Biblical Text: Luke 3:1-6 (Alternate Text: Philippians 1:3-11)

Guidelines for Individual Playdates

Value of This Activity:

By changing one small element in a story or text, we come have the opportunity to notice how “the small things” matter, how stories and poems and texts are “made” things, constructed out of numerous piece . . . and each piece—each word, each character, each landscape—changes the whole. This Playdate can also be a creative way to think about our differences—gender, race, family structure, background, physical situation, economics, etc.

Items Needed:

Bible. Pen and pencil.

To Begin . . .

Spend a moment in quiet prayer. If you wish, begin by freewriting for 3-5 minutes. Just let the pen empty out your concerns and thanksgiving for the day. Breathe.

How to Play . . .

  1. Read the text.
  2. Select one element to change. Some possible changes to consider:
    • Change the gender or race or class, or the power position, of one of the characters.
    • Change the era of one of the characters. Let all the characters but one remain in the original time of the story. Change one of the characters to a 21st century character.
    • Or, change the era of the whole story. (Easier than the previous one, perhaps, but ease is not the point of play!)
    • Change one key word or sentence in the story.
    • Change the location of the narrative. Move it from the country to the city, from the temple to a home, from Palestine to Seoul, from Corinth to London.
    • Change the diction of the narrative — from “bible-speak” to street talk or to news media-speak or politician-speak.
    • Change the central action of the narrative. Find that central action, the thing that pushes the story in its “inevitable” direction, then change that action to something that pushes the story into an entirely different trajectory.
    • Add a character to the story.
  3. Brainstorm on how that one change can alter the story or text in significant ways.
    • How would that change affect the other characters in the story? How would it affect their desire or motivation or strategy?
    • How would your change alter the end of the story? Would it take the story in a different direction? Would the beginning of the story need to be changed?
    • How might the change affect the theme of the story? Would the theme still be the theme, but with different overtones or nuances? Or, would the theme be altered significantly?
  4. Re-write (in summary form) the text, with that one change.

In Closing . . .

Take a moment to breathe and let the playtime settle around you. Carry your curiosity and insights and questions into the day.

Playdate Reference Material:

Playing with Narratives

Everyone is a Character

Play Is a Critical Thinking Skill

Guidelines for Individual Playdates

Playdates with Scripture Email ARCHIVES

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Playdates with Scripture by Virginia Wiles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

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