Flower Communion

#12 RE From Home 

Flower Communion

This coming Sunday is Flower Communion and we are asking that families take a photo of themselves with flowers and send the photo to Lea, our Office Administrator, who will be making a slideshow.  Lea’s email is on our UUSA website.  Please do this ASAP!

Flower Communion was created in 1923 by Unitarian minister Norbert Capek of Prague, Czechoslovakia and introduced to the United States by Rev. Maya Capek, Norbert’s widow.  Flower Communion is celebrated in many different ways and this year will be no exception.  You can check out this link to see more of the history of the celebration:  https://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/documents/zottolireginald/flowercommunion.pdf

For my suggested activity this week I am going to include three coloring sheets for you to print out and color.  If you want you can send the coloring sheets in for the congregational slide show or have them hanging nearby when you zoom in on Sunday the 7th.  The coloring sheets were designed by my daughter – thanks Augusta!

Here are the links for the coloring sheets:

Easy sheet:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Qu0FmX0ScrIKr2DTddyq_LUxuQLrCevn/view

Medium sheet (picture shown):

https://drive.google.com/file/d/18JMEWDe2ie2ykh03Z7NtbstWWnLng5eD/view?usp=sharing

Hard sheet:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1G3Pjjr3hkzTkiLA-1_8VLikZWielrFwu/view

 

PLEASE NOTE

There are two more services after Flower Communion Sunday!

June 14th – Celebration of Transitions including Briding our High School Seniors

June 20 – Father’s Day and Summer Solstice

Please Join us for 10:30 Zoom Worship

 

Working Together Towards a Safer Congregation

This past Sunday all of the children started upstairs with their parents because part of worship on being a Safer Congregation was having a fire drill.  Rev. Rachael gave us instructions and once the alarm was pulled it took us one and a half minutes to leave the building – A+!!  Lucky for us it was a nice day and good for us, our building is in good shape.  We are all up to date on our inspections and our signage.  This spring we will have a fire drill practice for the children in RE.

We are a Safer Congregation which means we have policies we can turn to when we have safety issues.  You can see the Policy Book here:  http://www.uusocietyamherst.org/safer-congregation/

Thanks everyone for your cooperation,

Rebecca

fire drill

 

 

Packing Love and a Whole Lot More

On February 9th we had a whole congregation worship service that was a special “break out” service organized by the UUSA Religious Education Ministry.  The original breakout was designed about five years ago after RE went to a training and learned about the many ways we can worship beyond the traditional Sunday Sanctuary experience.  RE Ministry has been experimenting with different types of services ever since.

In the past RE asked people to choose between music, conversation, art and action and they heard people say, “It is so hard to choose!”  This year RE Ministry set up the breakout groups in a way so that they didn’t have to choose because each group had a little bit of conversation, did a small amount of art, some action and some music.  This system encouraged a good mixing of people.  Many people in the congregation say they  want to get to know each other and this was one small step towards helping people mix and mingle.

Four weeks before the service we began collecting items for a backpack project supported and run by A Project of St John’s Episcopal Church in Ashfield & the Franklin and the County Transition from Jail to Community Task Force (TJC).

Here are some of the highlights of the program that were told to the breakout groups in our congregation:

It’s difficult when women are released, because there are waiting lists for low-income and subsidized housing, and it can be hard to find work.  The women often leave jail with nothing but the clothes on their back.  

The organizers asked women being released from jail for ideas about what would help the most if included in the backpack. The list has developed from their ideas.  35 packs were given out the first year and 45 were given out last year.  

A member of the organizational committee is quoted as saying “The program continues to grow and evolve every day…” “We want to expand, but we need the help of others. This little church (the St. Johns Episcapal Church) with a big heart does a lot, but we can’t do everything. We’ll be doing some outreach to other churches this next year.”

The UUSA collected and packed 16 backpacks and an additional five or six boxes of items that could be used by the group to pack more packs!

Below is a photo of Brenda Miller leading the congregation in singing How Could Anyone.  After we sang together we blessed the packs with backpack charms we had made for our own Back Pack service in the fall.

backpacks

 

Gathered Here

silhouette-of-people-illustration-thumbnailThis past Sunday we had a whole congregation service based on being present together.  For the Time for All Ages we read Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee MacLean.  Following the Time for All Ages we read an excerpt from Thich Naht Hanh’s  You Are Here.  The point of both?  Be present, be aware of your breathing.  Be calm and focused on the here and now.

Can you guess what we did next?

We breathed in and out.

A minute seems like a very long time when you are focused on your breath.

And yet we did and we did it together.  Several times.  You could feel the energy in the room.  And in the quiet, there was the sound of us gathering in.  That sound is very special.  I suspect it is that sound of gathering that is what keeps people coming back every Sunday whether they know it or not.

Then we tried a walking meditation while singing the The Plum Village song I have Arrived which you can hear here.  I say we tried because so many people got up to walk that it was actually hard to move!  What a good problem.  Next time we will move in two circles to help us get going.

Thanks to all.

 

 

 

Tasting Grief and Gratitude

This past Sunday we had a Whole Congregation service led by Rev. Rachael.  It was good to see the children looking interested, sleepy some of the time, alert most of the time, participating in the taste meditation focused on grief and gratitude.  Listen – ding – chew bread – listen – ding – chew bread (repeat 10 times!).  The challenge was to chew slowly and make the bread last.  Many many people lined up to drop a glass stone in the Joys and Sorrows vase.

I believe that children need to learn to sit through worship and ritual that isn’t all about them.  As a teacher I told my elementary school students that one of THE MOST important skills in life is to be able to sit still and look interested even when you are not.  It is my hope that in learning how to sit through worship children will learn to appreciate more and more of the service until one day they too are taken through the arc of emotions the Sunday worship leaders strive for when planning the service.

I am hoping Rev. Rachael and I can work together to do these types of services more and more.  This service was all hers and I was grateful to participate in it and share it with the children.  It was a service that was truly good for all ages.

Our sanctuary had only three seats empty.  Amazing.  To be able to worship with so many is a joy.

 

UU UNO

This past Sunday was a whole congregation service centered on the UU United Nations Office, the work that the office does and the experiences of Ally (teen) and Kate (adult chaperone) at the past Spring Symposium.  You can check out this year’s Symposium here.  Rev. Rachael reflected on the work that the UUA has done, but also the work that remains to be done.  We were encouraged to take some deep breaths because, yes, there is a lot of work we still have to do.

During the TIME FOR ALL AGES Kate Rice read Intersection Allies: We Make Room for All by C. Johnson, L Council, and C. Choi.  I highly recommend this picture book for families interested in talking about how to be good allies. 

Building bridges between our divisions, I 

Reach out to you, will you reach out to me? With

All of our voices and all of our visions,

Friends, we could make such sweet harmony

During the service children had the opportunity to color in a visual Order of Service which had drawings that related to the different sections of the service, including the Gender Unicorn.  The worksheet shown below was included in the regular orders of service.

Image result for gender unicorn transstudent.org

Stained Glass and RE Votes for our NEW Minister Rachael Hayes

This past weekend was very exciting.  Friday night RE sponsored a sign making, pizza party and Meet Rachael party for all those who were in support of the UUSA marching in the Northampton Pride Parade.  Many signs were made, pizza was eaten, Rachael was able to mingle and meet most of our families and allies.

 

 

Saturday, May 4th we gathered, mingled with the Northampton UU and marched about a mile to the fairgrounds.  It was pretty incredible to be part of such a large group of people all feeling the pride, the love and support of each other.  At one point the marchers were funneled into a mass of people and for a moment you couldn’t tell who was marching and who was standing still.  My favorite moment was when someone yelled, “We love UUs.  You are so reasonable!”  After we finished marching the Northampton and Amherst UUs sponsored a table at the fairgrounds and we handed out UU literature to interested people.

Sunday, May 5th Rachael Hayes was in the pulpit.  During her story for all ages she asked the children about our Tiffany window The Angel of the Lilies.  I think it might have been the first time some of the children really looked at the window.  Downstairs we made our own stained glass out of tissue and construction paper and some children chose to color in a black and white I made from a photo of our window.  We talked a little about the window and I asked the children about angels.  We didn’t get very far with that discussion so we’ll have to get back to it.

And we voted!!  I asked the children to vote with markers and if they wanted to list why they were voting yes or no for Rachael to become our settled minister they could.  The result was a unanimous yes!  And upstairs it was a YES too – so – welcome Rachael Hayes!  Go to the UUSA Facebook page to see the post and all of the celebratory photos.

 

IMG_20190505_153442_747

Break Out 2019!

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.

Rebecca

Christmas Pageant and Happy New Year!

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!