Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Alternate Activity 1: Unitarian Universalist Lectionary

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Copies of the Bible, preferably the New Revised Standard Version, and other sacred texts as available: Qu'ran, Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, Dhammapada, Book of Mormon, etc
  • Lectionaries: Jewish, Christian, Muslim
  • Lined paper and pens or pencils
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

Description of Activity

Participants discuss merits of a lectionary and explore what they would like to see in a Unitarian Universalist lectionary.

Tell the group:

Judaism is the first of the great faiths to establish a lectionary-a cycle of readings. Most Jewish congregations read the entire Torah in worship services over the course of either one or three years. Many other faiths have lectionaries of their sacred texts, including most Christian denominations, Islam, and many others. Many Christian groups use a three-year cycle to work their way through the biblical material they want to include. The lectionaries are widely used, so in a given denomination, congregations all over the world are pondering the same readings and themes on any given day of worship.

Ask participants if they can see the value of worshipers in a denomination sharing some parts of their worship experience with other people all over the world. Would that serve as a unifying force within a denomination?

Point out: One important purpose of using a lectionary is so members are exposed regularly to the most important sacred literature of their faith. Ask the youth: Do they think it could it strengthen Unitarian Universalism to have texts that nearly all Unitarian Universalists knew well?

If so-and many Unitarian Universalist ministers and theologians think it could-then how would we choose? The six Sources of inspiration we cite are:

  • Personal experience of mystery and wonder
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men (there's our prophetic tradition!)
  • Wisdom from the world's religions
  • Jewish and Christian teachings
  • Humanist teachings
  • Earth-centered traditions

We could create a lectionary with a different reading every single day for ten years, and not cover all the texts offering wisdom from these Sources! But because it very well could strengthen our faith to have texts we all actually knew something about and because it is worthwhile to think about what is most important...

What If... ?

Distribute writing materials. Invite the youth to brainstorm the most important things they have ever read. This would be works that affected them profoundly, brought them something they needed at a critical time, left them thinking, or even changed their lives. Let youth know this does not have to be something considered "serious," nor does it have to be intentionally instructive... sometimes people's lives are changed by a poem, song, essay, children's book, or portion of a novel. That's one joy of being Unitarian Universalist; we have no limitations in this area; we are free to take wisdom wherever we find it.

Give the youth a few minutes to think and write individually. Then, ask if any are willing to share. Have a volunteer write the ideas on newsprint. After collecting their ideas, further discussion with questions such as:

  • What would you consider essential reading for being a Unitarian Universalist? (Acknowledge this could change over time.)
  • What would you want every Unitarian Universalist to be exposed to every single year?
  • Would you want a one-year cycle? Two years? More? Would you want some texts read every year and others less often?
  • What would be a good structure for a UU lectionary? Should it follow the seasons? Holidays? (Which ones?) The seven Principles?

Ask the youth if they would like to do anything with these ideas. Would they like to pursue thinking about and perhaps creating a more comprehensive list of things to include? Perhaps they would like to share their ideas with their minister, a Unitarian Universalist scholar, or the UUA. Would they want to create a reading cycle for themselves, whether or not their congregation used it?