Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dancing. — Hebrew scripture (Exodus 15:20)
The hard hat symbolizes resiliency. In this session, there are opportunities to reflect about how we use our faith to help us bounce back from hard times. Discussion may include the challenges we face and the qualities of faith we can use when enduring difficult times. Allow time for participants to share bounce back strategies they have tried and strategies they want to try.
In Miriam, the sister of Moses, the session's central story presents a prophetic woman from Hebrew scripture, with a focus on her resiliency. Through challenges and set-backs, Miriam played an important role in her people's escape from slavery. As a girl, her actions helped to save the baby who would grow up to be the leader, Moses. As a woman, her leadership in celebration and gratitude inspired others along their journey into uncertainty in search of a better life. Emphasize that under stress and in difficult times, even prophetic women and men have had to take small steps to reach a larger benefit. As you explore Miriam's role in the Hebrew people's exodus from Egypt, encourage the children to find their own interpretations and wisdom in the classic stories.
As part of this session, the children will explore biblical text using a variety of different Bibles. Whenever sharing stories from scripture, be thoughtful and inclusive in how you present them. The biblical Exodus story attributes many key events to willful actions of God. It is likely that participants, their parents, and program co-leaders find biblical stories true or meaningful in a variety of individual ways. You may like to set a context before you begin. You might say:
The story we will hear today comes from Hebrew scripture and Jewish tradition. Hebrew scripture means the Torah, a book from thousands of years ago that tells the story of the Jewish people. Jesus came from the Jewish people, so faiths that follow the teachings of Jesus also share the faith heritage of Hebrew scripture.
Many stories in Hebrew scripture are about the Hebrew people's relationship with God. You might or might not believe in God, that is something up to you. But, God is an important character in the story we will hear today.
Miriam's faith in God was a source for her resilience. Whether your faith is in God, in the Eternal with a different name, or in the human potential for goodness, faith can be a powerful source of resilience. It can help you bounce back.
Before the session, obtain the recorded music you want to use. See "Find Out More" for ideas and sources for the traditional song, "Hava Nagila"; the contemporary song, "Miriam and the Women"; and klezmer music.
Activity 3: Making Tambourines and Activity 4: Jewish Celebration in Song and Dance may be used in either order. You may wish to teach a song and dance first, and then have participants make tambourines and use them to sing and dance again. Or, bring tambourines for the group to use, and spend more time in song and dance together.
This session will:
- Help deepen participants' Unitarian Universalist identity, ethical discernment and understanding of Unitarian Universalist faith through reflection and discussion
- Demonstrate how Unitarian Universalism is a faith that helps one find the endurance, perseverance, and hope to be resilient in the face of life's difficulties
- Convey the idea that Unitarian Universalism values a free and responsible search for truth and meaning (fourth Principle)
- Through the story of Miriam from Hebrew scripture, connect participants with one of the Sources of Unitarian Universalist faith: the words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love (second Source)
- Engage participants in the spiritual practices of chalice lighting, voicing of joys and concerns, and intentional discussion.
- Learn to define resiliency as bouncing back from problems
- Hear the biblical story of a prophetic woman — Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron —whose resiliency helped her lead her people from slavery
- Explore the structure and language of the Bible by searching for chapters and verses in a variety of versions
- Experience a Jewish dance and song as embodiment of the joy that Miriam felt upon the release from slavery
- Reflect on their own experiences of resiliency, including opportunities and strategies for being resilient in their own lives
- Engage in the spiritual practices of chalice lighting, voicing of joys and concerns, and intentional discussion.