Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Creating Home: A Program on Developing a Sense of Home Grounded in Faith for Grades K-1

Taking It Home: John Murray

Part of Creating Home

What is there more kindly than the feeling between host and guest? – Aeschylus


Today’s session focused on the story of John Murray, Universalist minister. A story about John Murray’s arrival in the United States from England was used to start a discussion on hospitality. We defined hospitality and talked about how we practice it at our family home and our faith home. We also discussed being safe and not talking to strangers without a trusted adult being at hand.


If you and your child witness others being hospitable, use the opportunity to point out in what way they were welcoming. If you use the words “hospitable” and “welcoming,” you will help your child learn the behaviors that reflect those values. Of course, you can also watch for opportunities to be hospitable to strangers. Instead of driving with your child to some place in your neighborhood, walk, without headphones or distractions. Greet everyone you pass. What reactions do you get? How does it make you feel? Talk about the experience with your child when you get home.


A Family Game

The very old children’s singing game, “Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow,” contains the lines “Open the ring and choose one in/ While we all gaily dance and sing.” Dancing and singing in celebration of bringing people into the circle is a lovely representation of the hospitable spirit. Oh, and this game is more fun with a larger group than you may have in your family, so be hospitable and invite friends and neighbors to play! Here’s how you do it:

All join hands in a circle, with the “Farmer” at the center.

Verse 1 (Sing while walking counterclockwise.)

Oats, peas, beans and barley grow,

Oats, peas, beans and barley grow,

Nor you, nor I, nor anyone knows,

How oats, peas, beans and barley grow.

Verse 2 (All face center, drop hands, and imitate the sowing of the seed as the farmer in the center does it. On the second line, stand at ease as they do (usually with arms folded). In unison, they stamp their feet and clap their hands and (shading eyes) turn around and view the land)

First the farmer sows the seed,

Then they stand and take their ease.

Stomps their foot and claps their hands

And turns around to view the land.

Verse 3 (As the third verse is sung, the farmer chooses a partner who joins them in the center.)

Looking for a partner,

Looking for a partner,

Open the ring and choose one in

While we all gaily dance and sing.

Repeat all the verses. On the third verse, now there are two farmers; each chooses someone to join the center. Each time the first verse is sung, those in the center move clockwise. Keep going until everyone ends up in the center. That’s how it is with hospitality – we want to welcome the whole group in!

A Family Adventure

Your family can practice hospitality by serving as greeters for an upcoming worship service at our congregation, or by helping to prepare and/or serve coffee and snacks after the service. You might wish to make cookies to share with your faith home, or even to volunteer for a regular monthly slot as greeters or hospitality providers.


Hospitality is practiced by some people as a spiritual practice. If you would like to know more about this, you might read Radical Hospitality: Benedict's Way of Love, by Lonni Collins Pratt and Daniel Homan, Paraclete Press. It is available from the UUA bookstore, as are other books and pamphlets about the practice of hospitality.