Nor need we power or splendor, wide hall or lordly dome;
The good, the true, the tender — these form the wealth of home. — Sarah J. Hale
Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879) was a writer, magazine editor, and staunch supporter of women's financial independence. She was also the mother of five children. Her husband died young, leaving Sarah to raise the children. Fortunately, she received assistance from other family members that enabled her to pursue her writing. She experienced first-hand a "wealthy" home.
Today more than ever we recognize that families come in many shapes, sizes and colors. People call "family" those with whom they share certain bonds and actions: caring for each other, accepting each other, and love are basic amongst these bonds. The central story in this session illustrates how these bonds can form a family as tight as one with related bloodlines.
A healthy faith family has these bonds, also. As adults, we choose our faith home. Children do not have as much liberty. Still, they can decide to claim their religious heritage and a faith home. Taking pride in the values and actions of their faith home can help. Our Unitarian Universalist principles put us in a position to not only accept but to embrace diversity. We can be proud of our religious history toward diversity, while at the same time we work toward making our congregations even more welcoming to all who affirm our principles.
The central story here is about a penguin chick, Tango, and Roy and Silo, her caring-hearted penguin parents. Our closing song refers to hearts being in a holy place and the wonders that can happen there. Wonderful things can only come in, however, if one's heart is open. Our congregations, at their best, are places full of individuals with open hearts. Hopefully, children witness this in the way their own families have been received. If the open-heartedness of your faith home is not so evident, this session can provide the impetus and some guidance to make it so.
In Activity 5: Open Hearts Make a Faith Family, you will lead the children in sharing stories about how their families became a part of the "faith family" of your congregation. You may wish to customize and send in advance Leader Resource 2: Letter to Parents. It encourages parents to tell their children how their families entered the faith home.
The discussion in Activity 5 is introduced with an optional, simple, magic trick. If you plan to proceed directly into the discussion without using the magic trick, you may have enough time to include in your 60-minute session Alternate Activity 1: Colored Salt Jars or Alternate Activity 2: Paper Plate Families.
This session will:
- Help children recognize that families come in all shapes, colors, and sizes
- Reinforce children's understanding that a person can enter a family at any age, and in a variety of ways
- Correlate entering and belonging to a family with entering into and belonging with a faith family
- Play a dancing game in which they choose partners
- Honor diverse families by making badges recognizing family members and their roles
- Through a story about Tango and her family, learn about family diversity
- Identify some of the elements that bond families
- Discuss how we enter faith families
- Affirm their sense of belonging by telling stories about entering and belonging in their faith family
- Optional: Increase their awareness of diversity as they tour the congregation and identify images of diversity on display
- Optional: Affirm diversity by helping others to own diverse reading material by running a book fair
- Learn that people fill more than one role in a family.