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)
- UU Sources Poster (Session 1, Opening and Session 1, Leader Resource 3)
- Optional: A recording of the song "Love Will Guide Us" and a music player
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 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) for re-use in future sessions.
- 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.
Referring to the Night Sky display, 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, Chinese and Arabs, Native Americans, and other people 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. Invite the children to discover the pattern of a dipping spoon. Say:
We call this constellation the Big Dipper. If we lived in Southern France, we would call it a Saucepan. Do you see the saucepan?
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.
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 the 19th century, people who were enslaved in the Southern states gave the Big Dipper a new name: the Drinking Gourd. This constellation became a symbol of freedom. People escaping from slavery knew they could travel at night, following the Drinking Gourd, to get to the Northern states where they would be free.
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 participants, 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 how Unitarian Universalists use science and reason to decide what we believe about who we are and where we came from.
Has anyone here talked about evolution at school? Evolution is an idea that hundreds of thousands of years ago, human beings' ancestors were earlier animals that lived on earth before us. Who knows about Charles Darwin? Did you know he was a Universalist? He is the person who first described what he called "natural selection." The facts he discovered about nature helped him think of his theory of evolution.
Today we will hear a story about dinosaur bones. It is also a story about how reason and science help us know who we are and where we come from. When fossils of dinosaurs were found, people did not know what they were at first. Some thought they must be from animals mentioned in the Bible. People who believed in the Bible believed God created the earth, then all the animals, and then God created human life. But, the Bible does not mention any dinosaurs. Scientists began to realize the earth was a lot older than the Bible said it was, and the Bible might not have all the facts about where human beings came from.
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 the song aurally, so children can come to know them from memory.
Use an LED chalice to avoid a fire hazard and to accommodate participants who are sensitive to smoke or scents.