Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth
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Alternate Activity 2: Designing An Opening And Closing

Activity time: 10 minutes

Description of Activity

Ask if anyone has ever participated in an activity that opens with a chalice lighting. Many Unitarian Universalist worship services open with this ritual. Say that you would like this group to have both an opening and a closing ritual for their workshops. Having an opening ritual and a closing ritual will help those who are present know when you are starting and ending a workshop together. The rituals will also mark the workshop time as special and help everyone focus their attention on the here and now. These ceremonies need not be fancy; an opening ritual can be as simple as lighting a chalice, and a closing ritual can be as simple as extinguishing it.

Invite input from the group about the opening and closing rituals you used today and in the previous workshop. Decide if you will use the Openings and Closings that were written for this program or if the group wants to create others. If your religious education program has standard opening and closing rituals, consider using those. Other ideas for openings include ringing a chime, having a moment of centering silence, singing a short song, or sharing a prayer or meditation. Closing rituals you might consider include standing in a circle for a short blessing, sharing a reading and extinguishing the chalice, saying a one-word check-out, or singing a song. Use the hymnals Singing the Living Tradition and Singing the Journey, along with other meditation manuals that are available, for possible readings and/or songs.

After the group has decided what the rituals will be, identify the materials you need and who will be responsible for gathering them. Ask for volunteers to help so the activity truly belongs to the group, not to just the leaders. If the group decides to rotate responsibility, post a sign-up sheet and/or plan to send weekly e-mail reminders.

If the opening ritual includes lighting a chalice, be aware of the flame at all times. Having a lit chalice in the room during active lessons may not work. Also be aware that some building codes do not allow open flames. Check with your religious education committee to verify whether lighting a chalice is allowed, and-if so-be sure to choose a practical time to extinguish it. If chalice lighting is not allowed, consider using a battery-powered tea light instead or substituting the chalice with a bowl of water and stones.