God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. — Christian scripture, 1 John 4:16
IN TODAY'S SESSION... participants heard the story of Judith Sargent Murray and how the pioneers of Universalist thought with their emphasis upon God as love was a strong departure from the prevailing religious notion of the time. This new view of the divine meant having to consider how this message could be preached from the pulpit and taught to children through religious education. Through this story and the activities of the session, we explored the idea which starts the James Vila Blake Covenant, "Love is the Spirit of this Church" and recognized how this heritage of love from our Universalist roots is still alive in our Unitarian Universalist congregations today. This session emphasized cooperation and connection with the creation of friendship bracelets; everyone had the experience of working on a bracelet which had already been started by someone else. We added some of the friendship bracelets to our group wall hanging.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... what "the spirit of love" means to you. How do you see the spirit of love embodied in your Unitarian Universalist congregation? How does the heritage of love from Universalism manifest itself elsewhere in your life? What are some ways you pass on this heritage of love to others in your congregation? Sing the song "Spirit of Life" together as a family. How does the song's image or idea of a divine presence reflect to the Universalist perspective of God as love?
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Volunteer in your congregation together as a family, to honor the heritage of love you receive by sharing it with others. You might offer to pass the offertory baskets together as a family, light the chalice together at the start of the worship service, or spend a day cleaning up the congregation's grounds.
A Family Adventure. Visit the first official Universalist church on American soil, founded by John Murray and attended by Judith Sargent Murray in Gloucester, Massachusetts. You might also visit the beautiful Sargent House Museum and an outdoor mural which depicts the history of the Gloucester and prominently displays a portrait of Judith Sargent Murray.
A Family Game. Challenge yourself and your children to a game of Unitarian Universalist history at the Fun Trivia website.
Spend an evening together as a family. Light a chalice or candle and take turns sharing a thought or two about why you love the other people in your family. You might also try creating a special family prayer to say at bedtime or before a special meal which acknowledges the heritage of love in your own family, such as, "We honor in our hearts all the love we receive from the people around us: Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Sophia, etc."