No Doubt Boxes Are Fun!

This morning we talked about how we all have doubts and uncertainties.  We can keep our doubts to ourselves or we can share them with friends and family.  We can also bring them to the UU and share them with our community.  At the end of Joys and Concerns we often say something like this –

puppet“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”

It is the same with doubt and uncertainty. Sharing our doubts and concerns usually makes us feel better and often we learn how to think differently about our thoughts using others’ experiences and love.

Without a doubt boxes can be a versatile prop for skits and puppet show plays!  This week the Pre-K – 6th grades split into three groups to come up with three shows based on the Seven Principles.  All three of the groups got as far as preparing their boxes with paint and one with windows, but only one has a story line which I think involves aliens and the first prinicple?  So next week we will continue to work on our plays and hopefully the following week we will have a few shows to present!  I am looking forward to seeing the skits and cooperation and friendships evolve.  I love watching the older kids work hard to involve every kid in their group.  We have a lot of new children and its great to have their creative energy and ideas pushing us in new directions.  Thank you all for coming!

 

Black Lives Matter at the UUSA

Sunday the 17th the UUSA voted to support the Black Lives Matter campaign.  What will our support look like?  One of the first things we will do is to hang a Black Lives Matter banner on the outside of our church.  After that people are hoping to organize conversations and events that will help us and our community to understand racism in America.

Before the congregation took this important vote, I read several picture books.  There’s nothing like a good picture book to stimulate conversation and feelings of empathy.    Skin AgaIMG_3633in, by Bell Hooks  uses repetitive almost poetic verse to tell the reader skin color is only part of a person’s story and in order to really understand people, you have to respect them and take the time to talk to them so you can better understand who they are inside.  Amazing Grace, by Mary Hoffman is about a young girl whose grandma and mother tell her she can do and be anything if she puts her mind to it.  She believes this until one day she is told she can’t be Peter Pan because she is a girl and she is black.

The group listening to these stories were able to take the first UU principle – Every person is important and relate it to their thoughts on loving and respecting people no matter what their skin color.

Over in the Pre-school room Jacy read Chocolate Me, by Diggs and Evans and did a second activity on MLK and love.  How cool is it that children can connect to history through love?

We ended the service by bringing our life size love posters up for the whole congregation to see.  I was told by several congregants that seeing the childrens’ paintings with hearts gave them hope for the future.

Standing on the Side of Love

IMG_3618The UUs have seven principles, surprisingly none of them mention the word love.  However, I believe that all of them come from a place of love and they can only be adhered to with love.

This Sunday the children, along with several adult volunteers and one great teen helped to make life size love posters to represent how we as UUs stand for and act on love.  Next Sunday we will go into this more deeply, but this Sunday we managed to get thirteen wonderful drawings ready for next Sunday’s service on Black Lives Matter.

Why are the children wearing yellow t-shirts?  Because the UU sponsors a lobbying campaign called Standing on the Side of Love.  People of all faiths are encouraged to participate and promote the idea that we must love one another to make social and democratic equality for all a reality.  It is a campaign for the oppressed.

Our Whole Lives – Spring Offerings

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AGE-APPROPRIATE SEXUALITY EDUCATION

 The Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst will offer K-1 and 4-6 Grade OWL: Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education this spring. OWL offers step-by-step, age-appropriate, interactive lessons for children and youth facilitated by trained adults.

Why is sexuality education important?  Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives.

K-1 OWL: This 8-session program offers information for children about birth, babies, bodies and families. The program offers support for parents as the primary sexuality educator for their children.

4-6 OWL: Offers an 8-session program for learning about and discussing the physical and emotional changes of puberty. Participants will read It’s Perfectly Normal  by Robie H. Harris, and examine topics such as values and sexuality, communication and decision making. Each session includes a Home Link -a homework activity for parents and children to complete together.

Dates will be coordinated once parents indicate their interest (probably in March and April).  Registration will be open until at least six slots are filled for each group. Please consider making a donation of $150-$300 per family for participation. For more information, please contact Rebecca Fricke (rebfricke@gmail.com or 413-687-8722).

Program sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst.

January Reflection- Act on What Matters

Happy New Year Everyone!

Here’s the latest news from our religious education community.  In early November some members of the RE Ministry, Karen Fisk and I attended a RE workshop sponsored by our UU District.  The workshop was inspiring and helped the group to think about how to identify what our priorities are, what human resources we have, what we may need to let go of, what other UU groups we may reach out to.  The main message is that RE numbers are down all across the country and that congregations are being encouraged to be creative with their programming.  There were many examples of churches doing whole congregation services to both be more inclusive and also to reduce the pressure on volunteers and budgets.  Moving to a whole congregation service requires changes to the worship service format and does not entirely replace Religious Education as we know it, but it has served to invigorate communities and conserve their resources.  As part of our exploration of this practice, the RE Ministry is working with Alison to put together a very different, whole congregation service, for March 6th.

Peter Block says, “The answer to how is yes.”  A “how” question often implies caution.  When people ask “how” it is often because they are skeptical and unsure.  Block argues that instead of asking how to do something, we should be asking what is worth doing.  This technique can be applied to every part of our lives – personal, professional, volunteer, family.  During this year and next the RE Ministry will be working to answer these questions – what do we think is important and what do we think is worth doing?  Circling back to my opening salutation – Happy New Year!  Take a moment and ask yourself, what is worth doing this year?  Block says, “Choosing to act on “what matters” is the choice to live a passionate existence, which is anything but controlled and predictable.”  I urge you to be brave and choose wisely, and the hows will come to you.

When Rev. Alison and I sit down to go over the ever-fluctuating calendar the year seems so compact and shockingly short; after all, Sunday only comes around every seventh day.  As the minister and the director of religious education, how do we narrow down what we want to say and do?  There are so many worthwhile service topics.  Partially we are narrowed by circumstance and by holidays, by vacations and by traditional services that are always part of the UU year.   The Sundays we have left, we fill with what is on our minds and in our hearts.  But really, our worship service is not the words we say or the hymns we sing.  It is the act of being together that is most important and most worthwhile.  In this new year the RE Ministry and the youth and children will be busy in some new and exciting ways and the all of us – the whole congregation – will be searching for the right questions in the hopes of discovering what is worth doing together.

Be well,

Rebecca Fricke

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December ’15 Solstice Service

We had a lovely whole congregation service led by our elementary students with the help of five adults and five youth from our UUSA youth group.  It took us three Sundays to plan the service and make the lanterns and congregational gifts and the result was a service that I think touched everyone.

The lanterns we made were based on a project I had done before.  You can read about how to do it on the blog Mango Theory.  We used electric tea lights for safety concerns.  You can see our lanterns in the home banner of this website.  All of the youth and adults involved in creating this service brought the lanterns into the sanctuary at the start of the service.  The lights were left off.

IMG_3601We also made 120 star dough hangings which took a week to dry before we painted them.  This idea came from the internet and I can’t remember the exact website, but the blog PinkMomBlueMom might be the one I was looking at.  The classroom paint we used did not encourage precise strokes and we concentrated on speed and splashes of color!  We handed these out during the offering.  Giving is definitely one of the secrets to happiness.

Below is the order of service we followed.  The service was based on the December Solstice and to celebrate the children wrote reflections and a skit based on on LOVE, LIGHT and HOPE. In each group there were a few elementary kids (preK-6) and a few youth.  It was truly a wonderful experience from the start to the finish.

THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST SOCIETY OF AMHERST ORDER OF SERVICE

Sunday, December 20, 2015 10:30 AM

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

SINGING BOWL

PROCESSION OF LIGHT RE Children, Youth & Adults

The Holly and the Ivy UUSA Choir trad. English Carol, alternate tune alternate words by Julie Cavacco

BELL AND GREETING

LIGHTING THE CHALICE  To face the world’s coldness: a chalice of warmth. To face the world’s terrors: a chalice of courage. To face the world’s turmoil: a chalice of peace. May its glow fill our spirits, our hearts, our lives. by Lindsay Bates

READING The Shortest Day by J Cooper

IN COMMUNITY

SHARING OF JOYS AND CONCERNS

A TIME OF SILENCE

LIGHT – Skit “Where did the Sun go?”

HYMN This Little Light of Mine No. 118

LOVE – The microphone was passed from child to youth down the row and then back.  Every child said what love was to them.

HYMN Love Will Guide Us No. 131

HOPE – Three youth (11-16) read their interpretation of what each verse of the hymn Come, Sing a Song with Me meant to them.

HYMN Come, Sing a Song With Me No. 346

REFLECTION The Rev. Alison Wohler

INTRODUCTION TO THE DEDICATED OFFERING OFFERING Our offering today will benefit the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s Guest at Your Table program, an annual fundraising and education program that supports UUSC’s human rights work. This year they will be highlighting the empowerment of refugees and displaced people. Please make checks payable to “UUSA” and write “UUSC” in the comment section. Thank you for your generosity!

OFFERTORY Winter UUSA Choir by John Krumm and Congregation

EXTINGUISHING THE CANDLES AND THE CHALICE

CLOSING CIRCLE AND SONG (see back of white insert)

CLOSING WORDS Rebecca Fricke, Interim D.R.E.

May all that is good within us, among us and between us fill us always with sun power: the possibility of faith, the warmth and love of community, the solace and quiet joy of peace, and the sustaining light of hope. Blessed be. by Karen Fisk

POSTLUDE Winter Solstice, by Bela Bartok *