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.

 

 

 

Forgiveness

This past Sunday we talked about the Jewish High Holiday of Rosh Hashanah.    Rosh Hashanah is a time of rejoicing, a new year celebration and also a time for personal introspection.  It is a time to forgive and ask for forgiveness.  We were fortunate to have a mother from Israel come in to talk about her experiences growing up celebrating the holiday and to share our sweet treat of apples and honey.

We then did two different mindfulness exercises.   The first exercise was centered around the Rosh Hashanah ceremony called Tashlich which means to “cast off.”  For this activity we wrote down something we wanted to forgive ourselves for and forget on a little piece of paper and then we threw the paper into a bowl of water and watched our words float, wash out and sink.  We incorporated quiet thinking time as we watched our words become soggy and unreadable.

The second exercise was based on mindful eating.   I placed a plate of apples and honey in the center and asked the children to talk about eating and tasting and all the different parts of the body that help us smell and taste.  (It was difficult with the food in the middle!)  Then we took a minute and a half to chew and smell and taste our apples and honey.  After one slice we spoke again and then we tried it again.

To end the day I read the book New Year At the Pier by April Halprin Wayland.

Shana Tova!!

Easter Eggs and Matzoh! Happy Spring!!

Passover and Easter don’t usually fall on the same week, but this year the two holidays arrived together and the children at the UUSA celebrated with an egg hunt and a matzoh snack.  We had 15 children between the ages of 2 and 12 and our volunteers hid the eggs accordingly.  After the plastic eggs were found, the children were given hard-boiled eggs to decorate with crayons and everyone had as much matzoh as they could eat.

And in case some of you are wondering, the vacuum most definitely came out during clean up!

Thanks to all who made the morning fun.

Happy Spring everyone!

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

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?”

LOVE

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What UU Priniciples can we reference when we hear the parable?  There are a couple toimg_6718  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.

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  1. 1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. 2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. 3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. 4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. 5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. 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.

Neighboring Faiths

This past Sunday our Neighboring Faiths group pulled off a thoughtful service that filled the congregation with a sense of purpose, pride, love and appreciation.  Thank you to all of the youth for their dedication throughout the year and to the facilitators for helping to make the program happen.  I hope that the RE elementary children could picture themselves up in the pulpit in a few short years and that the high school youth could think back on their time in the program and realize how much they have changed since they participated in the program.  I hope all the adults in the room realized that one of our missions is to help our children develop their faith and feel a sense of belonging in our congregation.

Thank YoUU!

 

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Silver Paper Seder Plates

This past Sunday we concentrated on the Jewish holiday of Passover.  I had three things planned besides check in and conversation and we got to all three, but let me tell you it was a high energy day!  During check in one child announced she had a song stuck in her head which prompted two more to start to sing it and then on top of that two of our youngest UU members were having a rough day in the preschool so there was a lot of anxious crying to be heard.  Such is life.  Before moving over to the craft table I read them an overview of the Passover story.

From our conversation circle we moved over to the tables where we made our paper Seder plates and filled each of the cupcake liners with play dough versions of the symbolic foods.  I realized afterwards that I should have had them put the bitter herbs into two cups because there are SIX cups total and two kinds of bitter herbs.  I will give them the sixth next Sunday and make them promise to add it to their plates at home.  Note I am Jewish.  I am a DRE.  And I make mistakes like everyone else.  What is so strange is that I didn’t notice even though I was using information from Chabad.org!

Second we played the Fill Your Seder Plate game I found from a Catholic Blogger.  While we played we ate our matzoh and the charoset I made using 3 apples, 2 bananas, one orange and some cinnamon.   During the game I tried to talk with them about the themes of the Passover tradition, but honestly, it was ENOUGH that they were taking turns rolling the dice, eating, laughing and being together.

To wrap up the morning we had a wild hunt for the afikoman which is always one of the highlights of a passover Seder for the children and adults.  You can click here for more information on the tradition.

Honestly, I am not sure what the children took away from today’s lesson, but we will circle round again and again… and again… and eventually some of the facts and feelings will stick.  That is my hope.

 

Jesus and the Mustard Parable

This past Sunday I used the Love Will Guide Us Tapestry of Faith lesson on Jesus, but before I get into the lesson let me confess that I shop on Amazon and at some point a few weeks ago I saw a plush Jesus doll and I bought it because, you never know when a Jesus doll is needed.   No one asked to hold the doll, but it did become a prop for our discussion.

To start our lesson I used “Meet Jesus” which was adapted by Lynn Tuttle Gunney from Meet Jesus: The Life and Lessons of a Beloved Teacher.  As I read through the excerpts of the bible that tells of Jesus’s life we made the connections between what we were hearing and the special holiday we celebrate – Christmas!

Next we talked about what we thought Jesus would think of our Seven Principles.  There was consensus that he would have probably been supportive of how we believe people should act.  We talked about how Christianity is one of our UU sources and how Jesus is an important religious leader.

Following the discussion I told them the parable of the Mustard Seed and to do this I adapted what I read on several sites including this one: https://sermons4kids.com/parable_mustard_seed.htm.

And to end the day we made Mustard Seed bookmarks using the activity described here.  It is truly wonderous that small seeds can grow into important and life sustaining plants and trees for us and for the animals and the Earth.

Samhain: A Celtic Service of Remembrance

For the last Sunday in October, the whole congregation called the Directions and created sacred space.  In the sacred space we hung our leaves on the Tree of Life and had a spice cookie and cider communion to remember those loved ones who have gone before us.

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In the Celtic tradition, Halloween attire was acceptable and encouraged. Adults and kids came dressed in costume and some brought their carved pumpkins to decorate the sanctuary for the hour.

Special thanks to the teens who met on Saturday night.  The teens helped to cut out all of the leaves and bake the soul cakes!

Indigenous People’s Day

Drums_for_sale_at_the_National_Museum_of_the_American_IndianThe Native American Spirit

The Reverend Cynthia A. Frado led the congregation in a celebration of the wisdom of Native American Elders. With Rev. Frado, the congregation consecrated a Medicine Wheel and listened to the sound of the drum.  Rev. Frado hoped “the drum beats would carry people to that place where the heartbeat of nature speaks to your own spirit.”