Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Passover Seder

Last Sunday, Rabbi Amy Rossel from synagogue Bet Chaverim joined our children at 9:30 to share with us about the Jewish holiday of Passover. We enjoyed singing songs and hearing the story of the holiday.

We then shared a special meal, including some of the ritual foods from the Seder Plate. A Seder is a special meal where the story of Passover is told, using special foods to represent different parts of the story.

Each Seder plate includes a shank bone, a roasted egg, haroset (a mixture of apple, nuts and wine), horseradish, a second bitter herb (often romaine) and parsley (or other greens). Each of these items has a ritual significance in the story of Passover. Many modern Seder plates also have an orange and/or olives. Click here to find out why!

For a flash presentation to learn more about Passover, see http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/flash/flash.html. chabad.org has several really interesting videos.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

After the Fire

Welcome to March! It's been nearly two months since I've posted here. As so often happens in our busy lives, many things have gotten away from me and I'm slowly trying to get caught up again.

We are recovering well from the fire in our Religious Education building on January 25. The renovations and repairs are progressing on schedule, and we expect to be back in our large classroom by mid March. I am so impressed with the resilience of our community, and how well we have come together to meet the challenges of loss of space.

On the Sunday following the fire, our two youngest classes met together. Steve lead the children in sharing their concerns and worries about the fire, then had them act out being fire with their bodies. They all drew pictures of the fire, complete with images showing them roasting their favorite foods over the blaze. I wish I had taken some photos to post here! The Discovery class has continued to share their space with the Treasure Hunters class, and some Treasure Hunters have joined with the Explorers class. There are important lessons here about hospitality--our children and their teachers have demonstrated how welcoming we can be, especially during difficult times.

The Spirit Play class, despite losing all of its materials in the fire, has continued to meet as well, in its temporary home in room 3. The teachers contributed donations of materials and time, and we quickly gathered the basics needed to continue running the class. The children have adapted well to the space as well. Last Sunday they strung beads representing the creation and evolution of the universe, and their own life journeys. Again, I wish I had photos to share!

We have some exciting events planned this month (see the "events" box, to the left). I hope you will consider attending. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Growing Community Together

Do people ask you why you bother going to church? With so many things we could be doing, why set aside time for church attendance? Perhaps you've asked this of yourself, especially on mornings you'd rather stay in bed (or your children would).

This question is really about the purpose of church. For me, being part of a religious community like Saltwater challenges me to focus on why I am here and what I am called to do in the world. Connecting with other Unitarian Universalists reminds me we are all connected with one another and all of life. Talking with our children helps me remember that each of us is a unique gift of creation. Singing together and hearing inspirational words helps me sustain hope. Being with others who care deeply about life helps me find hope despite more suffering in the world than I can address on my own.

For our children and youth, coming to church regularly communicates that faith and religion are central to our lives, not something extra that is tacked now and then. It allows them to connect with the community, and to feel more comfortable at church. It teaches that attending church is a spiritual practice, something we do over and over again, as a way of helping ourselves feel connected to something larger than ourselves.

What about mornings when it doesn't seem worth the effort? Perhaps we were up late the night before, or have too much to do before Monday, or are feeling more worn out than usual. Why come to church when we aren't that excited about the day's sermon topic or the focus of the religious education class? Because, on any given Sunday, there is someone here who needs a smile, a hug, or a word of encouragement. Someone who needs to see that others are working for justice in our world, or to hear voices raised in song, or to talk about their search for truth. Someone who needs to be reminded that we are part of something larger than ourselves. We need one another, as community. And we cannot build that community by attending only when it is convenient.

Of course there are times when we have to miss church. Regular attendance does not have to mean perfect attendance. What it does mean is, on most Sundays, you come to church. It's your routine, it's what you do religiously, it's a spiritual practice. With the emphasis on practice—no one is expecting perfection.

Starting this month, we will acknowledge commitment to regular attendance. Each Sunday children and youth will record their presence on our "growing community" wall. Every three Sundays, each will receive a temporary tattoo representing an aspect of our faith community. I hope this will be a fun way to visibly reinforce some of the religious values we share, while reminding us of the importance of showing up.

I encourage you and your family to commit to regular attendance. For most of us, that will mean three or four Sundays a month. For some, due to family configurations, work commitments, or other factors, this may be once or twice a month. Whatever your situation, consistently showing up will benefit you, your children, and our community.