Monday, May 26, 2014

Empty Bowls and Open Minds

Today's Helping Hands project in the Lighthouse Chapel for children and youth was to make "empty bowls" using various collage materials.  These bowls will be part of an art display and fund raiser at this year's General Assembly of Unitarian Universalists.  The empty bowl project raises funds to help provide food for hungry people.  

Bowls in process.  When dry, the balloons will be popped, and bowl-shaped artwork will remain.

Our Open Minds team prepared a readers' theater piece about some of the roots of Unitarian Universalist beliefs.  We used simple props to present each of these ideas.  Thank you to Gustavo and Owen for helping to tell the story today.  

Props from today's readers' theater.  See below for the story of how these represent different influences in the history of Unitarian Universalism

For a long time, people have asked themselves some important questions about life:

How and why did life begin?

What will happen to me when I die?

How can I know what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is true, and what is false?

Where can I find the answers that will tell me the meaning of life and how to live it?

How can I know what to believe?

One of the legends of the earliest Hebrews concerned a great leader named Moses. In their early days as a people, the Jews looked to the TEN COMMANDMENTS that had been revealed to Moses to tell them how they should live.

In time, the Jewish people wrote down their thoughts about their history and their customs and about how they believed God wanted them to live. Written by hand on a double scroll, THE TORAH is read throughout the year at Jewish services—and for Judiasm, this is the source of religious authority.

In the first century, there lived a good Jew named JESUS of Nazareth who studied the Torah with love and devotion. But Jesus began to question some of the rules in the Torah and to object to them.

After his death, the early Christians looked to the example of Jesus for their answers about the meaning of life and death, right and wrong.  They took as their symbol THE CROSS, to remind themselves his ideas could not be put to death. 

As the centuries passed, and Christianity grew into a major religion, the Pope in Rome became its spiritual authority.   People received God's blessing through the priests, who explained for them the bible and offer God's blessing thorough communion. CUP.

In the sixteenth century, a monk named Martin Luther challenged the authority of the Pope.  He taught that each person should read the BIBLE for himself, and make his own relationship with God.

By the turn of the nineteenth century, Universalism and Unitarianism were alive and well.  These two faiths grew closer and closer in beliefs until the merged as one just over 50 years ago. Our symbol, the FLAMING CHALICE, represents ideals of both Unitarianism and Universalism---faith, hope, love, freedom, reason, and tolerance.

In the1800s Universalist such as Hosea Ballou and Unitarians such as Theodore Parker and Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke out for the rights of the individual believer and against the authority of the church.

They taught that there is truth and wisdom in the Bible, and inspiration to be drawn from the life of Jesus. But there is also truth and wisdom to be found in other GREAT BOOKS and other great lives, from ALL THE RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD.

The whole panorama of NATURE, as well, has lessons for us about the meaning of life. But the answers to the great questions are not to be found in Bibles or birdsongs. Your answer will be found when you look within YOURSELF. As Emerson put it, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”

Theodore Parker said, “The kingdom, the power, and the glory will lie within the human heart.”

What a tremendous affirmation! Don't ever let anyone tell you the Unitarian Universalists don't believe in anything! What do we believe in?

We believe in YOU!

All of you. Each of you.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

End of the Year and Open House

Today our classes had their last sessions of the school year.  We reviewed our learning from the year, and prepared for the open house after the service.  The children and youth were very proud to show off what they have done this year.
Treasure Hunters helping with the bulletin board display

Explorers finishing their bottle cap mural

The preschool class enjoyed extra playground time . . 

. . . and the toddlers enjoyed our brand new play kitchen!

Those who visited the youth room made a web, learning that we are all connected
(notice the aliens made by the youth on the table in the center)

The preschool class shared some of their favorite stories with their parents.

The Explorer's class mural, nearly complete!

Visitors enjoyed seeing the books the Treasure Hunters have read this year . . 

. . . and their very own picture book, created from all the lessons and activities throughout the year..
A big thank you to all of this year's teachers.  It's been a terrific year!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Making the World a More Beautiful Place

Today the Treasure Hunters class read a story which challenged them to make the world a more beautiful place.  What can your family do to bring more beauty to the world?  

Flower stems, or rainbows?
Beauty in flowers and in faces.
Drilling holes in bottle tops so we can make a beautiful mural out of garbage.

Babies doing their part

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Parachute Fun!

We were a small group today, and our plans changed due to the rain.  So our teachers pulled out this parachute and we had a great time!  Thanks to Jan James for donating the parachute--it's sure to get more use throughout the summer.  

This summer's classes for children will draw inspiration from the writings of Dr. Seuss.  Unitarian Universalists draw inspiration from many sources.  What can we learn about our 7 Unitarian Universalist principles from the teachings of Seuss?  Join us this summer as we use stories by Seuss to look at what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist.