This past Sunday we had our annual youth worship and the UUSA youth stepped up and did a great job. Our theme was “letters” of all kinds. During the time when we typically asked people to meditate/pray/contemplate we gave out stationary and asked people to begin a letter they’ve been meaning to write. We got a lot of compliments and the youth should be very proud of the letters they wrote to share with the congregation. The letter two youth wrote to Jacy, our Preschool teacher, was a big lovely surprise and serves as an example of how a letter can make someone feel loved and appreciated. Our Dedicated Offering went to DIAL/SELF which is an organization in our area that serves homeless youth. I am happy to say we raised almost $1000 dollars for their new building project.
For the fourth year in a row we have held an RE Break Out Service around Valentine’s Day. This year we kept the same theme.
Here is our Order of Service: Breakout 2019 OOS
The multi-age groups self selected and tackled their tasks with gusto! And when the half hour was up we came back to sing and show and tell. Several people asked that we do more services like this one. If you liked the non-traditional format please let people who weren’t there know what you liked about it.
This past Sunday was a busy day at in the RE UUSA!
First we had our Parent OWL meetings. I am excited to announce that we will are holding OWL programs for K-2 and 4-6th graders. OWL is a unique program that invites age appropriate discussions of sexuality within the context of Justice and Equity, Self Worth, Sexual Health, and Responsibility. The UU OWL activities dovetail with our seven Unitarian Universalist principles. You can read more about the curriculum here: https://www.uua.org/re/owl
Alyson Bull and Susan Wells will be leading the newly revised 4-6 curriculum (10 sessions) and Lauren Croce and Tom Fricke will be facilitating K-2 (six sessions). It is very important that parents and children commit to being at almost every session.
Community is very important to many UUs and in order to help foster the sense of a close community it helps to introduce the children to members of the congregation who don’t often come downstairs.
In the RE space we had a long time congregant Carol Rothery come to talk to us about how she used to enjoy radio programs after school and reading stories before bed. Many of the children had heard or seen movies of Carol’s favorite stories. Carol read the Emperor’s New Clothes and the children could choose between acting out the story or putting on a puppet show based on the story. Carol and I provided very little guidance and the children pulled off two productions in record time. A good time was had by all.
This past Sunday I told the Parable of the Good Samaritan and I UUified a bible lesson I found online. We talked about how UUs have six sources, one of them being Christianity and I used my Jesus plush doll to introduce Jesus and his teachings.
After I read the story I asked the children a series of questions about what happened in the parable and specifically how we could think about the story using UU language. “At the UUSA, what term do we often use instead of God?”
What UU Priniciples can we reference when we hear the parable? There are a couple to chose from! The children thought of the most obvious and well known, Principle 1. Then we talked about how we can be good Samaritans for the earth which brought up Principle 7. We acknowledged that “neighbor” could apply to many more people and living things than those just in our immediate neighborhood.
- 1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- 2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- 3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- 4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- 5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
For our activity we drew comic strips with stories based on the Good Samaritan and we shared them with each other.
On Sunday, December 16th we had a parent led Christmas Pageant during our regular worship time. The Pageant was complete with angels, sheep, baby doll Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the three Wise Men. The Christmas story was narrated by Rev. Steve and myself and the young actors were shepherded through the play by middle and high school youth.
Thank you to Ashley for making it happen, thank you to all who sewed the costumes a few years ago (they held up really well!) and to Brenda and Rev. Steve for going with the flow.
I wish you all a very happy holiday season and… Happy New Year!
This Sunday morning during the time for all ages Rev. Steve read Bagels From Benny which is a sweet story about a little boy who thinks he is thanking God by giving God bagels, but discovers that he is in fact feeding a homeless man. Benny’s grandfather helps Benny see that by helping to make the world a kinder place he is in fact thanking God. Rev. Steve connected the book to the UUSA Wednesday morning breakfast and urged families to come help during the holidays.
After the upstairs portion of the service the children had a mindfulness session with Lesley that was focused on a candle flame. We are now half way through the year and the children are now much calmer and more focused in their mindfulness practice. And they are so thoughtful when it comes to describing their experiences! We gazed at the candle in the light and then with the lights off.
Following the quiet reflection time we talked about how this mindfulness practice connects with our UU Principles and then we just about had enough time to make lumenarie out of shiny red holiday paper. The paper was hard to hole punch through, but the children persevered and each went home with a small electric candle.
On Sunday, December 2nd we read a short history about Hanukkah and then we divided the children into two groups to play the dreidel game. Like good UU children, they would not let their friends and peers “lose all” and as a result, the games would never have ended if not for the parents knocking on the classroom door.
This past Sunday Leslie came to share a mindfulness practice. Most of our children have been practicing with Leslie for several years and they are now able to sit and listen with great attention and not only that, they have an incredible emotional awareness.
This Sunday we did two activities. The first was to think of a person, place, pet or thing that we are thankful for. We then walked between two lines (about 12 feet apart) and with each step we thought of our thankfulness for that person, place, pet or thing. The children walked between the lines slowly and purposefully about three times.
Leslie called the next activity “Ice, Ice, Baby” and was centered around the feelings associated with thinking about and then holding an ice cube. After imagining holding an ice cube those who wanted to could share how they felt – annoyed, scared, excited. Then we each took a cube of ice and held it without talking. Leslie talked quietly, guiding us through a series of questions. She asked us to hold the ice cube in different ways – with our fingers, in our palms, on the back of our hands. When we put what was left back in the ice bowls we talked about how we felt at first and then how our feelings changed as we continued to hold the cubes. The kids realized that they were coping with the cold and wet in different ways. Leslie finished the activity by talking with us about how we can purposefully change our perspectives and the children identified how they felt at the beginning and at the end of the exercise.
We ended with Leslie teaching us a sweet song in Arabic and Hebrew.
Have a good week!
What if our elected officials used our UU Principles to run for office? Two Sundays ago I asked the children to bring a doll or a stuffed animal in and pretend that they are running for office. I asked them to pick a principle or two to turn into campaign slogans. They also had the opportunity to write a campaign speech and to pass out buttons and make signs. This was the second time I organized this activity and I can tell you it helps the kids learn the principles and they have fun!
This past Sunday Rev. Steve read Nana Upstairs Nana Downstairs by Tomi dePaola – a beautiful and moving book for children about death. We continued the discussion of death downstairs. Children shared their own stories and experiences. We talked about what we believe happens when people die and then the big connect… what UU’s believe. As many of you know, the UU faith does not tell people what to believe on this topic, and instead people must search for what they believe to be true. Which led to the question, “Do UUs think it’s OK to believe anything?” NO! And we have our Seven Principles to guide us!
To help us remember the Seven Principles we sang the Seven Principle Song and then we managed to divide up, create puppets and short skits to act our our principles all in about 25 minutes and just in time for parents to see the results!
Here is a link to one version of the song and below is our version sung to Do Re Mi.