A place will express itself through the human being just as it does through its wild flowers. – Lawrence Durrell
IN TODAY’S SESSION…
Today we talked about our worship home. It is an important distinction for children to understand that worship is our corporate response to our faith. It is in worship that the symbols of our faith home are used and the music of our faith home rings out from voices of all ages. It is in the worship area that our faith beliefs are visually presented through banners and pictures.
As part of our exploration of our worship home we enacted a child dedication service and drew pictures related to our worship experiences. In addition, we made paper dolls which express the unique gifts that your child has to share with the world. Make sure you ask about (and honor!) the particular gifts that your child included on the doll.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about…
Today our Creating Home group explored the structure and meaning of our congregation’s child dedication service. You might wish to ask your child what they think the ceremony means. If they are unsure, you can share that a child dedication is a way both to recognize and honor the particular child, and to promise that the community will be there for that child as they grow. If your child has been dedicated in your congregation, tell them what the ceremony was like. Ask your child if they feel the congregation is holding up their promise. What happens in your faith community that makes your child feel recognized and supported? What more could happen?
If your child has not been dedicated, and if your congregation does dedication ceremonies for older children, you might ask your child whether they would like to be part of such a ceremony. What would it mean to them to take part?
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try…
A Family Ritual
You can have your own child dedication ceremony at home, reminding your child(ren) that a family, like a faith home, has a sacred covenant to care for and cherish the children. Here is a blessing that you can do with your children at home. You will need to gather symbols of earth, air, water and fire beforehand.
(Child’s name), may you be blessed by water, by a mind fluid enough to ever seek new ground and new insights; a heart which understands the depths of human emotion; hands gentle as a running stream. (Touch head, chest and hands with water.)
May you be blessed by earth, by a mind unwavering in conviction in what is right and true; a heart steady and grounded in love; hands which are strong and firm in action for justice. (Touch head, chest and hands with a stone.)
May you be blessed by air, by a mind keen as the north wind, a heart strong as the wind off the ocean, hands as comforting as a cool breeze. (Brush head, chest and hands with a feather)
May you be blessed by fire, by a mind which lights the way to new understandings, a heart which burns with passion and compassion, hands enlivened by the spark of the creative. (Raise a lighted candle over child’s head, chest and hands.)
May you be blessed by the Spirit, which moves through all beings. May yours be the mind and heart and hands by which the Spirit takes shape in the world.
A Family Adventure
You can expand your child’s experience of worship by choosing a Sunday when they will stay with you throughout the entire service. You might want to make a packet of paper on which your child can draw during the worship experience. As the service progresses, you can prompt particular drawings by questions such as “How do we show our concern and good wishes for people in our community?” “What do you see in the room that is special to being a Unitarian Universalist?” “What does it feel like to have a whole group of people singing together?”
You may like to sit on an aisle in case your child wishes to exit during the sermon – it’s hard to sit still through a long talk that doesn’t mean much to you! (Although playing silent games such as tic tac toe can help.)
Explore worship in the congregational setting as an aspect of family faith development. For further information about family faith development at home and family devotional and worship time, this link to the Unitarian Universalist Association will give you resources to use for all ages. The UUA website also offers resources on Whole Family living that includes both home and worship. Rev. Greg Ward writes about the value of and strategies for creating intergenerational worship.
Today, the children heard a version of the traditional Chinese story, “The Empty Pot.” Find this story on the Tapestry of Faith website. Or, read the version by Elaine Lindy on the website Whootie Owl’s Stories to Grow By. This searchable site has many more stories from a variety of cultural traditions, along with resources for using stories and storytelling in teaching. The Empty Pot by Demi (New York: Henry Holt, 1990) provides another version of the tale.
The Unitarian Universalist Association website’s Worship Web is a rich resource of material to include in a worship service.
Open Book: Family Stories as Faith Stories is a collection of family stories by Unitarian Universalist ministers, religious educators and Family Matters Task Force members. You may like to read these stories each night in a family worship time, as devotions. Keep in mind that faith development does not happen only on Sunday morning. Parents are the main instrument of faith development in children of all ages.