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Activity 2: Connecting Circles (10 minutes), Session 2: Symbols of Faith

In "Creating Home," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Two flashlights of identical size, with new batteries
  • Item(s) with images of the Unitarian Universalist chalice symbol including the two overlapping circles

Preparation for Activity

  • Gather a hymnbook, congregational newsletter, or order of service to show children the Unitarian Universalist chalice symbol with two overlapping circles. If you have done Activity 1: Story — Flame of Learning, Chalice of Love, you will have these items on hand.
  • Plan how to make your meeting space dark so the children can clearly see the circles formed by two flashlight beams. Consider moving your group to an especially dark room for this activity.

Description of Activity

Using flashlights, the children will explore the importance of the two overlapping circles in the Unitarian Universalist chalice symbol.

If the group heard the story, "Flame of Learning, Chalice of Love" in Activity 1, you can tell them the original drawing of the chalice in a circle was fine for a while. After the Unitarians joined together with the Universalists, some people felt they should have a new symbol that would include everyone and show that the two groups were now one.

You may say:

The Unitarians and the Universalists thought about faith and worship in very similar ways. When these two faith communities decided to join together, the Unitarians already had their own chalice symbol, with one circle around it, which they liked very much.

Show the children the chalice symbol with the overlapping circles by holding up and then passing around the hymnbook and other items you have brought. Ask them to look carefully and see if they can find the way the symbol shows that two groups are together as one group. Prompt them, or tell them, that the circle around the chalice is really two, overlapping circles.

Say, in your own words:

See how the symbol of our Unitarian Universalist faith has more than one part. Let's look at each of the different parts: the flame, the chalice cup, and the circles. Each part is also a symbol.

The flame stands for spirit. The chalice cup stands for community. Our symbol shows the way community holds and protects the spirit. The two circles stand for our Unitarian and Universalist faith traditions. "Faith traditions" means the things we do as Unitarian Universalists to show how we care about spirit, and community. Unitarian Universalism is a faith where there is more than one way to care about spirit and community.

The chalice being on the side, instead of in the middle, stands for another important idea of Unitarian Universalists: There is always room for more ideas and new ways in our faith.

Explain that they will use flashlights to learn something about circles, but first you will need to turn out the lights. Prepare the children for darkening the room. You might even ask for a volunteer to turn off the lights. If you have decided to relocate to another room that can more easily be darkened, bring the two flashlights and lead participants there now.

Turn the flashlights on. Choose two volunteers to hold the flashlights. You may want to choose two who seem especially fearful of the dark.

Once you have darkened the room, position yourself between the children who are holding the flashlights. Ask them to shine the beams on a wall or the ceiling to show two separate circles. Ask the group to say what they notice about the circles.

Now have the children experiment with putting the flashlight closer to the wall or ceiling, or further away. What happens to the circles? See if the children can figure out how to put one circle inside of the other circle.

Remind the group that the Unitarian Universalist chalice symbol includes two circles that are not one inside the other, but overlapping. Give two other children the flashlights and ask them to try to make the two circles connect in one place. You may choose another pair of participants to try to make the circles connect in two places, so they overlap as they do in the chalice symbol.

Turn on the lights and collect the flashlights. If you are away from your meeting room, lead the group back.

You may wish to ask children what they think about the chalice and overlapping circles as a faith symbol. Allow as much discussion as you have time for; it leads directly into Activity 5: Our Own Faith Symbols.

For more information contact web@uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, May 17, 2013.

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