Thursday, December 27, 2012

Celebrating Winter Holidays

The children in today's village class made this display of the many different holidays people celebrate in the winter time.  

May your family's holiday celebrations bring you joy.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hooray for Marriage Equality!

Almost two years ago, the elementary age children in the Spirit Play class heard a story called "Valentines for the Governor" as part of their religious education curriculum.  The story was about how Unitarian Universalists in California had bombarded the governor with valentines requesting marriage equality for all.  I included this lesson because it was suggested by the curriculum we were using that year, but I didn't really think at that time that marriage equality would become a reality in our own state of Washington anytime soon.  I remember thinking, it's good for the children to see how other Unitarian Universalists are working to make a difference.  Maybe someday we'll be doing that in Washington.  

Flash forward two years (only two years!)  When we found out that the first day same-sex marriages were to be legal in Washington state, Rev. James and I decided that we would hold the first weddings at Saltwater Church, during the worship service.  And we would invite all the children and youth to participate too, so all ages could witness this historic event.

I feel so lucky to have been able to celebrate my wedding day with all of you, and am thrilled that we were able to have a double ceremony with Devin and Geoffery!

Thank you everyone who was able to be a part of our ceremony this morning, and to everyone who has shared their love and support in making marriage equality a reality.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving Thanks

One way we can show thanks is by sharing with people in need.  This past Sunday, our children heard about the work of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.  The UUSC partners with organizations around the world to provide food, shelter, and other emergency supplies.  Next Sunday we will distribute boxes to collect money for the Guest at Your Table project.  To participate, take home a box and keep it on your table.  When you sit down to eat, contribute coins to the box, remembering those around the world who need help.

In my column in the Scroll last month I'd promised to post some table graces.  I  didn't get them up before Thanksgiving, but perhaps you'd like to add a table grace to your dinner routine this month, or try out a new one.  The six graces below come from our six sources, and can also be found at:

Thank you, Great Spirit, for the roof over our
heads, for being together, for all the food we eat.
—Unitarian Universalist blessing inspired by Earth-centered traditions

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything your goodness sends,
Thank you!
—Adapted from a grace of Ralph Waldo Emerson by the
Rev. Phil Lund, sung to the tune of “Praise God
from Whom All Blessings Flow”

Hamotzi lechem
min ha’aretz,
we give thanks
to God for bread.
—Jewish blessing

For seeds—that, like memories and minds, keep
in themselves the recollection of what they were
and the power to become something more than
they are…
—From “Gratitude for the Garden” by the Rev. Max Coots

Loving spirit be our guest.
Dine with us, share our bread
That our table might be blessed
And our souls be fed.
—By the Rev. Gary Kowalski, sung to the tune of
“Mary Had a Little Lamb”

We receive this food in gratitude to all beings
Who have helped to bring it to our table,
And vow to respond in turn to those in need
With wisdom and compassion.
—Buddhist mealtime blessing

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Asking Big Questions About the Flood, Hospitality, and God

Today's classes were wrestling with some big theological ideas.  The Treasure Hunters and Explorers classes discussed the story of Noah's ark.

The Treasure Hunters drew rainbows symbolizing God's covenant with Noah that he would never again send a great flood to destroy people and other living things.  Unitarian Universalists believe that all people are worthy of love.
The Treasure Hunters also enjoyed singing together the song Rise and Shine.

The Explorers class made art depicting the big ideas in today's story.  The talked about why the Bible might include this story about a great flood, and what it teaches.
The Discovery Class heard the story of Fox and Stork, a fable that teaches about offering hospitality to others.  The lesson was that we should offer others the help that they want, rather than the help we think they might want.  If you want to help someone, it is usually best to ask what sort of help would be appreciated.

Our youth group watched a video clip about John the Baptist.  Discussion about whether or not Jesus was white lead to conversation about whether people were created in God's image, or if people create God in their own image.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Promises, Knowledge, Love, and Reason

Unitarian Universalists are guided by 7 principles.  Our principles are promises that we make to one another about how we will be in community with one another and with the whole world.  
Today the Discovery class heard the story of our promises.  
Each promise is represented by a different color of triangle.
Red = Respect all people.
Orange = Offer fair and kind treatment to all
Yellow = Yearn to learn about ourselves, each other, and the mystery
Green = Grow by exploring what is true and right
Blue = Believe in our ideals and act on them
Indigo = Insist on freedom, justice, and peace for all people
Violet = Value our earth, the home we share with all living things

Our older classes heard the story of Adam and Eve today.  The Explorers class talked about the idea of whether knowledge is always a good thing, and times when we may have found out something we wish we hadn't known.  We read the story of Adam and Eve from the bible, and talked about whether we think curiosity is good or bad, why God may not have wanted Adam and Eve to eat the fruit, and why God might have put the tree there if he didn't want them to eat.  

Explorers class enjoy an enticing snack of apples.
The Treasure Hunters heard the story of Adam and Eve's First Sunset.  In this
story about a story in the Bible, Adam and Eve don’t know what to do to stop the sun
from disappearing. They are afraid. Then they try something – making a fire! It keeps
them warm. Finally when morning comes they are filled with thanks and say a prayer.
We Unitarian Universalists seek what is true. When we don’t know what is happening we
try to understand using our love and our reason.

In the story, Adam and Eve blessed each day and each night.The children made little books of prayers and blessings to show thanks for days and nights and meals. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Introducing This Year's Classes

The Treasure Hunters class made this welcome sign for their classroom.

This year our classes for children and youth will be learning about our Jewish and Christian Heritage. Classes will examine the strong relationships of these traditions to our faith and our culture. We will investigate our Jewish and Christian roots in the context of Unitarian Universalism through study of biblical stories, figures, and events in both the Jewish and Christian scriptures.

Examining a model of a Torah Scroll
Our middle school youth will be exploring the life and teachings of Jesus. Today they looked at different pictures of Jesus and wondered about what he may have looked like and what his life was like.
The Middle School Class brainstormed things they have heard about Jesus.

The Explorers class will explore the theme of covenant this year through their study of Hebrew scriptures.
Today they created a class covenant, and learned about the Ark of the Covenant. All ideas on how we should treat one another were put into the box, and then discussed and agreed upon.

The Discovery class learned about each other and their classroom. They learned a new song, and then enjoyed exploring different activities.

It was a busy day in the Lighthouse. Welcome all to a new year!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Open House

Enjoying musical fun with the Discovery class

Today our children and youth shared what we have been learning and doing in our classes this year. We loved having so many adults come and visit our classrooms, enjoy seeing our projects, and the special snacks we had prepared.
Listening to a presentation in the Explorers class
Playing "Faith Jeopardy" with the youth group
"Pinwheels for Peace" made by the Treasure Hunters class

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wrapping up the Year

Classes were busy today finishing end of year projects.
The Discovery class talked about flowers, made Mother's Day cards with pictures of flowers, and enjoyed a treat of fresh squeezed orange juice.
The Explorers class learned about Sikhism
The Sikh religion teaches that the outward differences in people's religions are not important in God's eyes.  
There are five symbolic items of clothing worn by many Sikhs.  The Explorers talked about the idea of wearing symbols of one's faith, and made bracelets that represent our own beliefs and activities important in our own lives.
The Treasure Hunters class made lamps for the Sikh holiday of Diwali.
Diwali is the favorite festival of many Sikh children.  It celebrates the time the sixth guru was released from prison.  There are many beautiful lights at night during this time.  
As Unitarian Universalists we know that we can learn a lot from the many religions in our world.  By learning about families who worship differently from us, and who observe different holidays and celebrations, we learn more about our world, as well as about our own beliefs.
The youth group played a "Faith Jeopardy" game.
They worked in teams to answer questions about all of the different faiths they have learned about this year.  Some of the questions were really hard!  It was clear our youth have learned a lot about different faiths.

Mosque visit

The youth group visited a mosque last week to wrap up their study of Islam.  They received a warm welcome and learned a great deal from the experience.  

The Explorers class also finished up their study of Islam.  They enjoyed making homemade hummus.

Our classes have really enjoyed their study of world religions this year!  Please join us in the Lighthouse for an open house after each service on May 20.  The children and youth will share with you what they have learned in their classes this year.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Practice of Prayer

In preparation for visiting a Mosque later this month, our youth group learned about Rakah (Islamic prayer). The youth practiced prayer positions using rugs. Women and girls will need to wear head coverings when visiting the Mosque.

Prayer is not common among all Unitarian Universalists. The idea of prayer can even make some of us uncomfortable. Some of us do pray. Sometimes our prayer takes the form of music. Here, the Spirit Play class sings "Spirit of Life", which could be considered one of our sung prayers.

Monday, March 19, 2012

John Murray

This week, children in the preschool and elementary classes at 11:00 heard the story of John Murray.  This story comes from  our second source:  Stories from the women and men of long ago and today whose lives remind us to be kind and fair.  

Each story begins with an underlay.  As we open it up to create our story space, we wonder aloud with the children what it might represent.  "What could this be?  It could be a big blue book.   Maybe it’s a big blue box?  Sky is often blue.  Maybe it’s the sky?  The ocean can be blue.  I think it’s the ocean."  

Two green strips of felt were added.  These could be land.  One shore on each side of a large ocean.  This is a story told about a boy who was born on one of these shores who when he became a man took the long journey to the other shore.  

This boy’s name was John Murray.  John became a minister when he grew up.  He rode around from city to city teaching people how to love each other and love God.  Many of the people where John lived believed that God punished people, sometimes in horrible ways.  They also believed that God only cared about a very few people

But John couldn’t believe that God was angry and punished people.  In fact he was certain that God was loving.  He also had a hard time believing that God only loved a few people.  God was so big and so loving, John was certain that God loved all people.

John traveled around letting people know that God loved them, and that God loved all people, and that God wasn’t angry and wasn’t going to punish them.  But people couldn’t always believe John.  They would get so angry at him that they would tell him to leave their towns.
John finally decided that he was finished with preaching.  He had many sad things happen to him and on top of that people didn’t like hearing that God loved them.

John decided that he wasn’t going to preach anymore.  He also decided that he was going to leave his country, which was England, and take the long journey to America.

John got a job on a boat which was sailing for America.  It was a long trip. 

Meanwhile there was a man in America, named Potter.  Potter was a farmer who owned a lot of land.

Potter had been having the strangest dreams.  He began to think that God was talking to him in his dreams.
Mr. Potter had a dream in which God told him that he needed to build a church building on his land, near the ocean and that God would send a preacher who would come and preach from that pulpit.  God also told Mr. Potter that the preacher would preach a wonderful message of love that would change people’s hearts.

Mr. Potter did as he was told in the dream.  He built a church building.  And then he waited. 
The Boat on which John Murray was sailing finally made it to America but the water got shallow and the boat got stuck just off shore.  They had been traveling for a long time and had begun to run out of food.  So the captain of the ship asked John to go ashore and buy some food to bring back to the boat.

John came to shore.  And where was he?  He was on Mr. Potter’s land and he ran into Mr. Potter.

And Potter met John saying the strangest thing.  He said, “You are the preacher who will speak the good news from the pulpit I have built.”  John didn’t know about Mr. Potter’s dream that he was to build a chapel and that a preacher would come and preach God’s love.  But as strange as it all was, John liked Mr. Potter and spoke with the man for a long time.  He finally admitted that he was a minister and though at first he didn’t want to, John finally agreed to preach that Sunday.

That Sunday he climbed into the pulpit and told the people there to go out and give people a glimpse of God’s love.  “Give them not hell but hope….”  John didn’t stay with Mr. Potter but he did stay in America and he did start preaching again.  He founded many churches devoted to spreading the message of love.

We end our story with some wondering questions.  These questions are to remind us to wonder, and not usually ones we have answers to.   "I wonder if John was ever scared that people wouldn’t like what he was telling them?  I wonder if Mr. Potter ever worried that the preacher would never come?  I wonder if you have ever had a dream like Mr. Potter’s?  I wonder what other ways God speaks to people?"

John Murray and Thomas Potter believed in God's love for all people.  They helped to found the Universalist Church in the United States.  We remember our Universalist ancestors for their bravery, in believing in the goodness of peoople and the power of love.
 adapted from the Spirit Play Story "John Murray Coming to America"