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Opening (5 minutes), Session 6: Thinking of Death

In "Riddle and Mystery," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Chalice or LED/battery-operated candle
  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Bell, tingsha chimes or other sound instrument
  • Handout 1, Today's Big Question and (optional) a plain envelope
  • "Today's Big Question" sign
  • Kid for the Day bag or box, card stock cut into uniform size pieces for all participants and pencils or markers
  • Optional: Nametags and markers
  • Optional: Quiet background music and music player
  • Optional: Group covenant from Session 1

Preparation for Activity

  • Retrieve materials from Session 1 (or if needed, make new ones):
    • "Today's Big Question" sign
    • Kid for the Day bag or box, filled with participants' names on card stock; extra card stock and pen/pencil for newcomers' names
    • Optional: Nametags and supplies to make new nametags
    • Optional: Group covenant
  • Post the "Today's Big Question" sign and post a sheet of blank newsprint beneath it.
  • Write the chalice lighting words on another sheet of newsprint, and post.
  • Print out a copy of Handout 1. Fold it to conceal the text. You might place it in an envelope and address the envelope to "Kid for the Day."
  • Optional: Set out nametags and supplies for new participants if needed.
  • Optional: Choose soft background music to play during the Opening. Obtain and test music player. Begin playing the music before participants arrive.
  • Optional: Post the group covenant, generated in Session 1.
  • Optional: Post an agenda for the session.

Description of Activity

Greet youth as they enter, and introduce yourself to any you do not already know. If the group uses nametags, invite everyone to (make and) wear one. If new youth join this session, add their names on card stock to the Kid for the Day bag.

Sound the bell or tingsha chimes to call for silence.

Reach into the Kid for the Day bag or box and select a name without looking. Announce the name and place the paper back in the bag or box. (If a Kid for the Day seems reluctant, allow them to pass. Draw another name or invite the participant to select one.)

Indicate where you have posted the chalice lighting words. Invite the Kid for the Day to light the chalice while you lead the group in reciting "May this chalice light show the way as we search for answers to our biggest questions and seek to understand life's deepest mysteries."

Invite the group to share a moment of silence. End the silence by sounding the bell or tingshas. Explain that you will use this same ritual—chalice lighting, followed by silence—at each session.

If new participants have joined the group, invite all, in turn, to introduce themselves. You can do more of a check-in, but keep it focused.

You may wish to ask if anyone did any Taking It Home activities from the previous session and would like to briefly share what they did.

If you have posted a covenant made by the group in Session 1, direct the group's attention to it and ask if anybody wants to suggest changes. Process any suggestions quickly, and amend the covenant as needed.

Announce that it is time to hear the Big Question of the day. Hand the Kid for the Day a copy of Handout 1 and help them understand and implement the instructions. Write the question—What happens when we die?—on the newsprint under the "Today's Big Question" sign.

Ask the Kid for the Day to extinguish the chalice. Move the chalice table aside as necessary to allow movement in the room.

Set aside the "Today's Big Question" sign and the Kid for the Day bag or box, with the names and extra pieces of card stock, for re-use.

Including All Participants

If the group includes youth who may have difficulty reading, be sure you routinely allow the Kid for the Day to pass.

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 Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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