Activity 1: Joys and Concerns
Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- LED battery-operated candles, for all participants and co-leaders plus one extra
Preparation for Activity
- Think of a joy or concern that is appropriate and comfortable for you to share with the group, to model the activity.
- If needed, place the chalice on a table accessible to the children with enough space for all their candles.
Description of Activity
The group participates in Sharing of Joys and Concerns.
Invite the group to share a time for joys and concerns. If this practice is unfamiliar to your congregation or the children, you might say:
As Unitarian Universalists, we believe it is important that we take care of each other. When we care for each other, our connections to each other become stronger. The interconnectedness of us all is part of our seventh Principle. Sharing good times and bad times helps us to be more caring people, and being caring people is one way we are UU every day.
Sometimes we share our good and bad times in a ritual during worship services. Sometimes this is called Joys and Concerns. "Joys" are things that have happened that make us happy; "concerns" are events that make us worried or sad. What are some of the reasons we share good and bad news with each other?
If participants do not suggest these, mention:
- So we can comfort and help each other.
- So we can celebrate together.
- Keeping each other informed of important events in our lives, so we can feel closer to each other/so we can think of ways to help each other.
- We might be able to help someone if we have gone through a difficult event like one they are experiencing.
- Some people might not have family or close friends with whom they share their feelings.
Ask participants to think for a moment:
Is there something that has happened to you recently that you would like to share with the group? It can be something you are happy about or something that makes you sad or concerned.
Give each child a battery-operated candle. Invite children to light a candle, place it near the chalice, and share their joy or concern with the group. Explain that each person may come up, one at a time, to light a candle and if they wish to speak aloud, say their joy or concern, and that after each person has shared, the group will sit in silence together for a few moments. Say:
Let's listen to each sharing in silence. Later, it is okay to talk to the person and offer support if you feel you can be helpful or congratulations if you wish.
Tell participants that if they do not want to say their joy or concern, that is fine. They are welcome to take a turn and light a candle in silence.
Go first to model sharing a brief joy or concern. Then encourage children to take turns. After everyone who wants to participate has shared, light one last candle and say:
This is for all the joys and concerns that we hold silently in our hearts.
Sit in silence for a moment. Then, process with these questions:
- What was this ritual like for you?
- Have you ever taken part in a ritual like this?
- Have you witnessed sharing like this during worship before? How was this similar or different?
- Have you ever talked with a friend before about your, or their, happy, sad, or worried feelings? What is different about sharing privately with one friend, and sharing together in our group with a Joys and Concerns ritual?
- What does lighting a candle and sharing a joy or concern have to do with caring? [Often we have deep feelings we need to share. Talking about a bad day can make us feel better. Talking about a good day brings back good feelings. When we hear about important events in people's lives, we feel closer to them. If we know they are sad, we can comfort them or can do something to help. For example, if a person shared that there was a death in the family, someone might cook a meal and take it to their family. If someone shared news they feel good about, we can congratulate them and share in their joy. In a community, we share the good times and bad together. We support each other because we love and care about each other.]
- Why do you think we sit in silence after someone shares their feelings or experiences? [Affirm that our silence shows that we are really listening. It shows we are willing to take some time to focus on that person and the news or feelings shared.]