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Taking It Home, Session 1: Signs, Symbols, and Rituals

In "Signs of Our Faith," a Tapestry of Faith program

Ritual is the act of sanctifying action—even ordinary action—so that it has meaning: I can light a candle because I need light or because the candle represents the light I need. — Christina Baldwin, storyteller and author

IN TODAY'S SESSION... children learned to recognize signs, symbols, and rituals inside and outside our congregation that show we live our Unitarian Universalist faith. This session provided a working vocabulary that children will use to explore a variety of signs of our faith in the sessions to come. We talked about how some rituals, especially religious rituals, are symbols for abstractions—ideas that cannot be touched or seen in their entirety. For example, singing "Happy Birthday" is a symbol for the honor and attention we give someone on their special day. In future sessions, children will be offered their own stole to wear during the Opening and Closing rituals of our sessions, as a symbol that each child is a UU worship leader.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... your favorite family rituals. What do we like about them? Where did they come from?

EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. As a family, talk about the activities you most like to do together. Could one of these activities become a ritual? For example, if you all enjoy bowling, could you all go bowling on your birthday every year? Another idea, make Friday or Saturday night Family Fun Night and each member takes a turn each week to choose a game or activity for all to share.

Family Discovery. What rituals does your family have? Are any religious? Are any specifically Unitarian Universalist? If you always collect some water from your summertime travels to share at your congregation's Water Communion, that is a UU ritual. Did any member of your family grow up in a non-UU religious tradition? Ask them about religious rituals they recall. Are any of them similar to UU rituals? Do they symbolize similar ideas?

Family Ritual. Does your family gather regularly on vacation or for a holiday meal? Make a group photograph a ritual. Take turns as the photographer so everyone will be seen in the photos. Keep a record of these special times with a special photo album. Purchase an album with a plain cover you can decorate, or make an album out of poster board and yarn. Ask every family member to contribute to the cover decoration. The Book of New Family Traditions by Meg Cox, a member of the UU Congregation of Princeton (New Jersey), offers many more family rituals to consider.

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, July 12, 2013.

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