Activity time: 7 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Chalice and LED/battery-operated candle
- Session 1, Handout 1, Ten Million Stars
- Session 1, Handout 2, Love Will Guide Us Lyrics (Hymn 131 in Singing the Living Tradition)
- Night Sky display (Session 1, Opening)
- Optional: A recording of the song "Love Will Guide Us" and a music player
- Optional: A ladle and a gourd
Preparation for Activity
- Hang the Night Sky, if it is not already posted in the meeting space. Make sure you have the North Star and the Big Dipper. If you need to create a Night Sky display, see Session 1, Opening.
- Post your Our UU Sources Poster, if it is not already posted.
- Copy Session 1, Handout 1, Ten Million Stars, for all participants. Or, write the words on newsprint, and post.
- Copy Session 1, Handout 2, Love Will Guide Us Lyrics, for all participants. Or, copy the lyrics on a sheet of newsprint, and post.
- Plan to collect and store handouts (or newsprint sheets) for re-use.
- Optional: If you need to learn the song "Love Will Guide Us," go online to hear a congregation singing it together. Or, you might invite a member of the choir or someone musical in the congregation to teach and lead the song with you.
Description of Activity
Gather the children in a circle. Distribute Handout 1, Ten Million Stars, or point out the words printed on newsprint. Light the chalice and invite the group to read the words together responsively.
Indicate the Night Sky display. If the group includes children who have heard the Opening before, you might invite them to explain the Night Sky, the Big Dipper, the North Star in their own words.
Or, say in your own words:
When people first began to ponder the night sky, they wondered, "What are stars and why are they there? Why do they move?" "Where did I come from? How did life begin? Why am I here?" Although the sky did not give the answers, people used the stars as symbols for their beliefs about the important questions in their lives.
When people looked at their night sky, they saw patterns and pictures in the way the stars were arranged. Thousands of years ago, the Greeks and Romans, the Chinese and Arabs, Native Americans, and other peoples all around the world named these constellations for gods they worshipped, animals they relied on, and everyday scenes from their lives.
Indicate the Big Dipper. Say:
We call this constellation the Big Dipper.
Invite the children to discover the pattern of a ladle, a big dipping spoon. Show them the ladle, if you have brought one. Ask the children what other pictures they see. Encourage them to imagine the constellation upside down. Tell them:
To the Skidi Pawnee Indians, this constellation looked like a sick man being carried on a stretcher.
To the ancient Maya, it was a mythological parrot named Seven Macaw.
To the Hindu, it looked like Seven Wise Men.
To the early Egyptians, it was the thigh and leg of a bull.
To the ancient Chinese, it was the chariot of the Emperor of Heaven.
The Micmac Indians saw a bear instead of the scoop, and hunters tracking the bear instead of the handle.
In France, some people call it the Saucepan.
Long ago, people discovered how to use the stars to guide them when traveling. Knowing the constellations in the night sky helped them find the direction they wanted to go.
In our country, slavery used to be allowed. There were many places in the U.S. in the 1800s where white people in the Southern states controlled black people by forcing them to work hard for no payment. People who were enslaved in this way had little power to make decisions about their own lives—even the adults.
The people who were enslaved in the South knew that the Northern states did not allow slavery. They knew they could escape to the North by traveling at night, when it was dark, following the Big Dipper constellation in the sky. They gave the Big Dipper a new name: the Drinking Gourd. This constellation became a symbol of freedom. We will talk more about the Drinking Gourd today when we talk about Harriet Tubman, and how she helped many people escape from slavery. She traveled back and forth, from the North to the South and back again, though it was quite dangerous for her, as a black woman, one who had escaped from being enslaved, herself.
Say, while pointing to the North Star:
This one star does not move much in the Night Sky. The earth rotates and orbits around the sun, but this star, the North Star, is located directly above the North Pole, so it seems to always stay in the same place in the sky. Travelers without a map, a compass, or a GPS can use the North Star to know where they are and where they are going.
For Unitarian Universalists, love is like the North Star.
Now indicate the poster you have made of the seven Sources. Say, in your own words:
We let love and our Sources guide us, like stars in the night sky guide travelers. We use the wisdom of many Sources to help us answer the big questions about what we believe, just like ancient peoples used the stars.
Explain, or remind the children, that a "source" has to do with origin, or beginning. When we talk about the sources of our beliefs, this means we are talking about where our beliefs begin and how we get ideas. Say, in your own words:
Today we are talking about our second Source, "lives of people from long ago and today who remind us to be kind and fair." Harriet Tubman was one of those people.
Distribute (or indicate, if posted) the "Love Will Guide Us" lyrics. Sing "Love Will Guide Us" together.
Collect handouts/newsprint for use in future sessions.
Including All Participants
For participants who are not fluent readers, take the time to teach the opening words and song aurally, so children can come to know them from memory.
Use an LED chalice to avoid fire hazard and to include participants who are sensitive to smoke or scents.