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Opening (5 minutes), Workshop 1: Gather the Spirit

In "Gather the Spirit," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Clear bowl to serve as a chalice
  • Cup of water
  • A small, hardy plant (such as a spider plant or shamrock plant)
  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Optional: Gather the Spirit blog access instructions
  • Optional: Music and music player
  • Optional: Small table

Preparation for Activity

  • Set the chalice bowl, the cup of water and the plant together on a table.
  • Place chairs for all participants in a circle around the table.
  • Write the chalice lighting words on newsprint and post.
  • Optional: Choose background music for the Opening and other quiet activities in the workshop. The Before You Start section of the program Introduction offers suggestions.
  • Optional: If you have set up a blog for Gather the Spirit participants, prepare instructions for accessing the blog. Make a copy for every family and/or plan to email the instructions to participants.

Description of Activity

In Gather the Spirit, the chalice-lighting involves water, not flame.

Gather the group in chairs around the table with the chalice bowl, cup and plant. Indicate where you have posted the chalice lighting words. Say you will "light" the chalice by pouring the cup of water into the clear bowl as the group says the words aloud. Lead the group to say:

In the clear light of this chalice we see that as the drop joins the brook, the stream, the river, and becomes a mighty sea, so do each of us gather with others and become a group strong enough to care for and change the world.

Invite the group to share an opening ritual to help everyone connect with the sounds of water. Say:

We will make the sounds of rain. Follow me and make a rain storm together.

Lead participants by verbally directing and physically demonstrating these sound steps. Pause on each for 10 or 15 seconds, gradually building the storm's intensity:

  • Rub your palms together to make the sound of wind.
  • Tap you fingers together for the sound of a gentle sprinkle.
  • Snap your fingers as the rain comes on.
  • Clap your hands for heavier rain.
  • Slap your thighs to make it pour.
  • Stomp your feet for thunder.

Then reverse the process. Go slowly back through the sound steps and bring the storm to an end.

You might ask the group to suggest additional body percussion or other effects and make another storm. (Turning lights on and off for lightning is one possibility. Making whoo sounds for wind is another.)

If you have started a Gather the Spirit blog for the group, invite participants to use it. Explain that, over the course of the program, participants may post comments such as the results of their explorations of Gather the Spirit topics or new ideas relevant to the program; and, they may respond to one another's postings. Distribute instructions for accessing the blog or make sure you have email addresses to send the blog instructions to participants.

Suggest participants bend and stretch before sitting again for the next activity. If needed, ask a few volunteers to help re-arrange chairs and set aside the table with chalice bowl, cup and plant.

Including All Participants

Pay attention to accessibility; arrange the chairs to accommodate participants with mobility limitations.

If any participant cannot make sound with hand motions, adapt the activity. Assign a few participants a foot-stamping part, or a vocal part such as the sound of wind starting as a breeze, becoming a howl and then calming to a breeze as the storm subsides.

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 Saturday, December 10, 2011.

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