Tapestry of Faith: Families: A Jr. High School Youth Program that Explores the Diversity, Commonality, and Meaning of Families

Faith In Action: Honoring The Work Of Families -long Term

Part of Families

Materials for Activity

  • Varies by ritual as designed by the group

Preparation for Activity

Read Description of Activity, below. Before presenting the idea to your program group, discuss the possibility with your religious educator, minister, worship leaders, worship committee, and anyone else with a vested interest in worship. You will need to get their approval. Explain that you need someone with worship experience in the planning stages of the activity. Consider inviting one of these individuals to the session during which your program group will discuss and plan the ritual. If the congregational staff and leaders accept your proposal, agree upon a date to introduce the ritual. Only then should you present the idea to your program group.

Description of Activity

What is a ritual? A special event that identifies and sets aside time that is sacred. A chance to acknowledge the ordinary in an extraordinary way. What could be more ordinary-yet more deserving of extraordinary recognition-than our families? Consider the possibility of extending the work of Families participants into a worship service.

Ask the youth if they would be interested in creating, for the congregation, a simple ceremony that honors the work of families. Review what you have learned about family work. Who gets the most recognition in our culture? The people who work in homes? The people who clean, the people who take care of the garbage, the people who prepare the food? Probably not. How can we honor those people? Perhaps with a ritual.

What can you do to honor the work of families? As you and your group ponder the possibilities, be sure to take into account the size of your congregation and time constraints. Will the minister or worship leader accompany the ritual with a sermon about the work of families? In a small congregation you could place a pile of stones next to a bowl of water and, much like the flower ceremony, have individual family members come up and drop a stone into the water in honor of a particular family job: "I vacuum." "I do the shopping." "I clean the dishes." In a larger congregation you could have one person name, one at a time, some of the jobs family members do-such as help with homework, feed the pet, do yard work, pay the bills, and so on-and ask people to stand, raise their hand, or otherwise indicate when one of their jobs is named. After everyone has indicated, read a blessing.

Work with the youth to design the ritual. If you plan to use a blessing, write one together. If you need to gather materials, decide who will get what. Recruit youth to help present the ritual and set aside a time to rehearse it before the service. Since the work of families is work that all members do, consider doing the ritual at a time when the youngest people are in the service so they can participate as well.

Including All Participants

It is important for the worship leaders and congregation to understand the broad definition of family that the program participants have established. Singles in the congregation and people who are not blood relations, but are nonetheless considered members of a family, need to feel included in the ceremony. Do not assume that all will, but have the intention to honor families of all shapes and sizes in your ritual.