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Opening (10 minutes), Session 15: Atonement (Level)

In "Toolbox of Faith," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Chalice candle or LED/battery-operated candle
  • Lighter and extinguisher, if needed
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Tool of the Day — a level, or several levels
  • Two sheets of paper and pencils (see Welcoming and Entering)
  • Toolbox of Our Faith poster and tape or a glue stick

Preparation for Activity

  • Print the opening words on newsprint. Post the newsprint where the children will be able to see it when they gather in the Council Circle space.
  • Bring the sheets of paper with "atonement," "reconciliation," and participants' penciled words into the Council Circle space.

Description of Activity

Participants will begin to explore the words, "atonement" and "reconciliation," and consider the metaphor of a level to symbolize the restoration of balance that comes with "at-one-ment," or atonement.

Gather the children in a circle, in your Council Circle space. Light the chalice.

Indicate where the opening words are posted, for any children who are unfamiliar with them. Lead the group in reciting:

We are Unitarian Universalists

with minds that think,

hearts that love,

and hands that are ready to serve.

Hold up a level. Tell the children what it is called and that it is the Tool of the Day. Pass the level around. Invite the children to share their prior experiences seeing or using levels. See if they have observations about using the level in the meeting space — for example, what surfaces seem to be level, but are not?

Ask, "What do you think makes this a Unitarian Universalist tool?" Allow participants to share ideas. Affirm that there is no one answer. Then explain, in your own words or these:

The level represents restoring balance when we have made a mistake. This is called "atonement." Another word that is used is reconciliation. This means that two parties who were apart and in conflict have come back together.

Hold up the sheet of paper with the word "atonement." Point out the three parts of the word: "at-one-ment." Then say:

When we are out of balance, when we have made mistakes, it can feel like we are separate from everything around us. So the restoration of balance is the restoration of oneness.

One of our Unitarian Universalism Principles affirms acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth in our congregations. We all need to accept that we make mistakes and cause bad things to happen, sometimes by mistake and sometimes on purpose. One tool we can use to restore balance is atonement.

It takes courage to admit mistakes. As Unitarian Universalists, one of our sources is the words and deeds of prophetic women and men who challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love. In our own Unitarian Universalist history, there have been people whose words and deeds we can look to. Their examples can inspire us to take on the challenge of admitting our mistakes, both individually and as a community.

Invite a participant to attach the sheet of paper that says "atonement" to the Toolbox of Our Faith poster.

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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