Category Archives: Coming of Age

Are you wondering what we *do* in Coming of Age class?

CHURCH!

Your fourteen year olds are geniuses. They are deep. They are astounding. They go to church services religiously (ahem), so you should talk to them. Look at them in the back on the left hand side if you’re facing the pulpit.

They are in Coming of Age class this year, a class that meets every week after church, grounds them in our Unitarian Universalist theological tradition and history, and asks them to add to that rich tapestry of revelation by adding their own beliefs to the mix. At the end, they will present their credo statements, which is just a snippet of what they are asked to do. So far this year they have tackled the subjects of sin, evil, forgiveness, prayer, God, death, after life beliefs, Unitarian Universalism, worship, values and more. And they have another 10 weeks or so to go!

Here’s their assignment for this week excerpted from the email I wrote them. Why don’t you ALL do this homework in support of our youth and mentors? Write your belief statements and favorite quotes in the comments…you might even help them out!

………

You may remember that for your “homework” you were asked to write 3-4 statements of *religious* belief that undergird the reasons why we come together as a faith community and share the values that we share.

Some guidance:

Remember that I asked you to dig deeper than using statements like “we believe in justice” because that doesn’t set us apart as a *religious* institution. The Human Rights Coalition works for justice. The United States constitution has belief statements about justice. Every church in America, on some level, cares about justice. Why do we work for justice *in this church*? What spurs us to work for justice in this particular context? Why do we come together at all? (Justice is just an example, but you get the idea). What is the theology that undergirds the value?

You can start with “I” statements, particularly since we are going to *work together* to make “we” statements as a group later in our Ten Most Commonly Believed Things Among Us statement. Please try to make sure your belief statements are grounded in our theological tradition(s). We are part of a long and rich tradition of saints whose shoulders we stand on. We don’t make this up as we go along, or “build our own theology.” We build on top of the theologies we have inherited, recognizing that “god is still speaking,” or “revelation is never sealed.” Remember that the humanist tradition is part of our historical heritage, so you don’t have to believe in God to have a theology. [For those of you who jumped up during “All my Friends and Neighbors” as out atheists, be sure to google “the Humanist Manifesto.”]

Here are some examples of belief statements:
“I believe that all people are children of the same God, and therefore I practice equity in human relationships.”
OR,
“I believe that humans are capable of both good and bad behaviors, therefore we need to atone for the ways in which we harm others.”
OR,
“I believe that this world is our paradise, and all we have, and therefore, we must work to make it peaceful, loving and justice-filled.”
OR,
“I believe that God is love, and therefore all are saved (no one goes to hell). Our job is to destroy the earthly hells we encounter every day.”
OR,
“I believe that prayer doesn’t change things, but prayer changes people and people change things.”
OR,
“I believe in the perfectability of the human spirit, therefore we are all capable of making the world a better place through progress.”

To make sure these belief statements are grounded in our vast and rich tradition, I’m going to ask you to look up quotes by Unitarian, Universalist and Unitarian Universalist theologians/ministers to support your statements. This will also help with your credos, and our “Ten Most Commonly Believed Things Among Us”. This may sound hard to you, but I don’t even want you to go to the library. Google “Unitarian Universalist quotes.” Google Forrest Church quotes. Google Rob Hardies quotes. Google Sophia Lyons Fahs quotes. Google Marilyn Sewall quotes. Google Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes. Google Theodore Parker quotes. Google John Dietrich quotes. Google Bill Schultz quotes. Google Bill Sinkford quotes. Google Marjorie Bowens Wheatly quotes. Google the Iowa Sisterhood. Google Hosea Ballou quotes. Google Mark Morrison-Reed quotes. Google Nathan Detering quotes. Trust me, this will be fun. Just pick one or two that really speak to you. Put it all in notebook paper to add to your journals.

This week, the whole group will be working on choosing a social action project for everyone to do together. You will use your quotes and belief statements to help prioritize which social action projects are most deserving of our time as a church. In other words, we will look at our values, how they are informed by our theology, and choose which projects are our way of doing our unique work of love in the world.

So bring what you have of your belief statements. Bring your hearts.

Bright blessings to all of you,

Robin

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This Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dear church friends,

This Sunday, children in grades 1st-7th grade will gather in the children’s church for a service on burning, burying, and throwing away grudges with the story “What if Nobody Forgave?” We will sing, pray and meditate, hear a healing message, and ritualize our forgiveness together. We will begin in the sanctuary before being dismissed to the children’s church service. We are psyched to be joined by musician Valerie Anastasio again!

Our babies, toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners will meet in their classrooms per usual.

“How clear the path of one who believes, he lives with honour, with honour he leaves.” ( Guru I, Japji)
Our 8th grade Neighboring Faiths class is going on a field trip to the Milford Sikh Temple with their guest speaker from last week, practicing Sikh Ilene Gillespie, and teachers Brad Palmer and Brian Howland! The will meet at 10:00 am in the Fahs room, and leave soon after to get to the 10:30 service at the gurdwara. We expect that they will return at around noon. For more information on the Temple, see this link: http://nessc.org/. PARENTS: BRING YOUR PERMISSION SLIPS!

Coming of Age friends: COME TO WORSHIP. Then come to class. We will be discussing forgiveness by reading the Bible. For those of you who think the Bible is boring, you clearly haven’t read the parables carefully enough, or the frightening and wrathful judgment of the God in the Hebrew scripture. We will read examples of both on Sunday. You are going to love this class.

See you in church,

Robin

This Sunday, December 16

THIS SUNDAY IN CHURCH:

First, and this is important, parents of middle schoolers:

5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders are cordially invited to attend music Sunday (they will not have class) and sit together with their classes and teachers. I will mark off reserved pews for them in the front. Of course, they are welcome to sit with their families if they would rather do that.

[Do you know that your children are always welcome in worship? They are. If you are a family that likes to worship together in the sanctuary, know that we are tickled to have you ALL with us. There is no religious law that says children *must be educated* during the Sunday morning service and adults *must worship*. We’re all a family under one sky, and our house of worship is open to ALL. That means people under 18, too.]

Our first-fourth graders will come to the first part of worship before being dismissed to their classrooms. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners will begin in their classrooms.

Babies will be lovingly cuddled and played with in the nursery.

2s/3s will be exploring the winter holidays some more.

So will the preschooler/kindergarteners and 1st/2nd graders.

3rd/4th graders will be learning about prayer as a spiritual practice.

Next Sunday, December 23rd is an all ages worship in the sanctuary. All are invited, and child care will be available for children under 4. We will be celebrating the miracle of birth.

FINALLY, Coming of Age will meet from 12-1:30 pm in the basement with their illustrious mentors. We will be discussing the incarnational theology of Unitarianism in honor of the upcoming Christmas holiday. Then, we will head to the Teibels to party it up and celebrate the miracle of being together.

Lots of love to you and your’s,

Robin

This Sunday, December(!) 2nd

Dear church,

It is the first Sunday of Advent! Holy moly…that came quick. It is also the month that we will delve into the topic of prayer together at UU Area Church. Be sure to participate in the really rich discussion in the blog post below (Why I Teach my Children to Pray) about God, prayer, and teaching children to pray. It is fascinating and inspiring to hear what other parents do to nurture their children’s spiritual lives.

Please stay tuned for information about our annual solstice service. I will need young friends to participate in the service with me, and all of you are invited to help. The service is December 23. More information will be forthcoming on this blog as soon as it is available.

This Sunday we have new teachers in our Religious Education classes! Please join me in a resounding chorus of HOORAY! for their ministry to our children. Please also give them a big thank you or a hug or a high five when you see them on Sunday. And communicate with them as early and often as possible about your kids so that they can know how to best care for them in their classrooms.

This Sunday, babies, 2s and 3s and preschool/kindergarteners will begin in their classrooms.

1st-8th graders will begin in the sanctuary before being dismissed to their classrooms.

Coming of Age friends! I missed you last week. There was a hole in my heart the size of twelve 14-year-olds on Sunday. This Sunday, you will come to worship, and you will love it. Then you will come to Coming of Age where your awesome mentors will be yet again. We will be talking about prayer this week since we are launching into a month-long thematic exploration of prayer as a church.

By the way, when we meet in the sanctuary this Sunday, we will be treated to liturgical dance by a nearby spiritual dance company. I’m really looking forward to seeing prayer in its embodied form, a completely un-New England, anti-Puritan, out-of-my-comfort-zone ancient practice that I’m willing make room for it in my heart. I hope you will, too.

So on that note, here’s a completely silly liturgical dance by Religious Education teacher (it’s true! He teaches Sunday School) Stephen Colbert, to help welcome in the season in which we make room in our hearts for all sorts of things–the light as it returns to the earth, the little miracle of oil burning much longer than it is supposed to, and the coming of a king.

Love, like a carefully loaded ship

        We just had our first meeting with mentors and youth in the Coming of Age program after church on Sunday, and we were all struck with how profound the experience was. Twelve youth and twelve adults came together in a room and shared our spiritual autobiographies with one another. Twelve youth and twelve adults were changed from the experience.
       We aren’t used to starting up friendships with people that we have to work really hard to interact with.  Interacting with someone who doesn’t seem much like you requires a lot of effort and translation and awkward silence and empathy and commitment. We all bring our own fears to making connection. “What if she doesn’t like me?” “What if he thinks I’m not cool?” Further, we need to try and understand a new language. The language of youth, the language of the upper class or the lower class, the language of the business or PhD world, the language of another country, the language of hip hop or the evangelical church or the greatest generation. We’ll definitely fail at learning these new languages a few times, and we’ll fumble around with the awkward way it sounds on our tongues, and so we’ll have to try again and again. It’s hard and vulnerable stuff, my siblings in spirit.
       Cross-generational friendships are particularly hard to create and foster. Perhaps your potential new friend wasn’t alive when John Kennedy was shot, or has no concept of what it felt like to be a child when the Twin Towers fell. Perhaps he has dealt with dentures for years and you haven’t even lost all your baby teeth yet. Perhaps your potential new friend loves Justin Bieber and you don’t have any idea who that is. Perhaps you fear that all people over 30 are not to be trusted, or at least that they forget what it was like to be a teenager.
         But these these brave and bold and counter-cultural friendships…these friendships are how we learn about what it means to be a human fully alive. These friendships are how we learn about death, and how it informs our living. These friendships are often our insight into the holy’s movement among us—into how divinity shows up in all people—from the baby to the octogenarian.
        In a culture that seeks to divide us, instead we choose to come together in our church, choosing to make intentional, multi-generational family with people not in our biological family. This is radical stuff, and it is not something we should shrug our shoulders at. As a church, we are stewards of one of the last institutions left that seeks to foster these kinds of relationships, and we must do everything we can to hold up and celebrate the ways in which we do this. We need to shout from the rooftops why extrafamilial cross-generational relationships are so important and life-giving.
        We are a community that seeks to practice what it means to love one another across difference, at our most unloveable, and in our deepest need so that we might be transformed, and can then go out and transform the world. We are practicing building what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the Beloved Community. We practice building this beloved community when we give grace to the restless toddler in the pew next to us, or put up with music in worship that isn’t our favorite because we know it matters deeply to someone else; or squirm through a long sermon that we know is really meeting someone where they are right now because we can see the tears in their eyes. We practice when we mentor a youth in the Coming of Age program, teach a Religious Education class, when we bake cookies to bring to our elders who are housebound, or when we offer to babysit for a young family so the parents can go out at night. We practice when we work to make sure our church is accessible to all, sometimes having to forgo our own comfort. We practice when we listen. We practice when we get to know one another as unique messengers of the divine; as storytellers that have a piece of our stories woven into theirs.
       Antoine de St. Exupery reminds us that “in a house which becomes a home one hands down and another takes up the heritage of mind and heart, laughter and tears, musings and deeds. Love, like a carefully loaded ship, crosses the gulf between the generations.”
       May we be like a carefully loaded ship, crossing the gulf that divides us with fear and misunderstanding to meet one another in unity and love on the other side.

This Sunday in Church, November 18th

Dear Church,

Can you believe it is almost Thanksgiving? This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for our fall religious education teachers. The theme of the month at church is sacrfice. We are told that the word “sacrifice” means to “make sacred”, and to give an offering. Our religious education teachers have sacrificed–offered up–their Sundays to make our children’s Sundays sacred this fall. Next week is their last week teaching (on the 25th). I hope you will remember them in your prayers of gratitude.

Winter trimester teachers will have teacher training this Thursday from 7:30 pm-9:00 pm. Please come even if you have been trained in the past!

We also honor Tina Johson’s work with us as she leaves us for a new position at the end of this month. Tina has been the religious education assistant in the office, and has made the work of gathering and providing materials for our children and youth sacred. Tina describes her favorite moments here as when she holds the door at the side of the sanctuary open for the children as they leave for their class. We have all appreciated the warmth of her holding a door open for us. Please join me and the religious education committee in thanking her for her service.

Junior Youth Group Friday, November 16 (from Chris, Marco and Tim)
There will be a Junior Youth Group event this Friday, Nov. 16…our Winter Walk!
Time:  7pm-9pm
Where:  Chris and Marco’s house.  See email for directions.
What to bring: We will walk for over an hour in Elm Bank in Wellesley/Dover, just down the street.  Kids need to have warm clothes, even if they don’t want to wear them. They can’t attend without having a hat, warm jacket and gloves in a bag. If it’s slightly misty/light drizzle, we will still walk, so they should also bring a windbreaker. We will have s’mores in the backyard afterwards.
[Rain Plan: If it’s really rainy, we will meet at the church and have some kind of snack and play games.  Please look for an email Thurs. night/Fri. a.m. to confirm the evening’s location.]
Please let us know by Wednesday a.m. if your child will be attending (bobcatschell@aol.com).

This Sunday in RE
This Sunday in church we will return to our regularly scheduled religious education classes after a teacher break for children’s church this week. Babies, the 2s and 3s class, and preschoolers/kindergarteners will go directly to their classrooms this Sunday. 1st-8th graders will begin in the sanctuary before being dismissed to their classes.

Coming of Age this Sunday is MEET YOUR MENTOR Sunday!! This is a long-awaited, much-anticipated moment of awesomeness. Please, mentors and youth…if you will not be in attendance, let your mentor/mentee know. Even if your mentor will not be in attendance, you are expected to be there. Our Coming of Age kids have already figured out what they believe about God, morality and sin, so mentors have a lot to catch up with us on.

Friends, I am looking forward to seeing you in church.

Bright blessings on your week,

Robin

This Sunday, November 11th

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”  -The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear church,

Hi! Welcome to our new blog. I hope you will check here weekly for information about children and youth religious education at UUAC in Sherborn. I hope to provide information and inspiration for RE teachers and parents about the goings-on in our beloved religious education program.

Themes for Spiritual Practices

This month’s spiritual practices theme at church is the theme of sacrifice and surrender, and children are no strangers to these concepts. Our children understand on a deep level what it means to surrender one’s power and control as their lives often feel out of their control. Hopefully, we are teaching them what it means to sacrifice for other people by doing the messy work of coming to a multigenerational church every week, trying to do our best to sacrifice for one another. We sacrifice our taste (“I don’t like this hymn, but the person next to me is crying while he sings it!”), and our comfort (“Will these toddlers keep it down a little? I can’t hear the minister speaking!”) for the good of the whole. That is part of the work of a faith community…to sacrifice our own comfort for the sake of something larger than ourselves.

You can talk to your children about spiritual practice themes in your families at home. Try saying grace at meals or bedtime prayers with the theme of sacrifice and surrender. For further inspiration, our themes for spiritual practice are here:  http://www.uuac.org/worship/themes/NovemberTheme2012.pdf.

Children’s Church this Sunday

This Sunday in children’s church, our children in preschool-eighth grade will be learning and worshipping around the theme of sacrifice, and will hear the story of The Good Samaritan from the Christian Bible.

This Sunday’s worship will follow both the presidential election and will be on Veteran’s Day weekend. The children will explore the idea of sacrificing for one’s country and world looking beyond the militaristic definition to a more service-oriented approach of helping one’s neighbor. In children’s church, children will also have the opportunity to participate in spirit-filled worship: high energy music with accompanist Valerie Anastasio, prayer and meditation, and lighting candles of joy and sorrow.

Babies will go to the nursery, and the 2s/3s will go to their classroom on Sunday morning where there will be extra childcare providers on hand to relieve our regular toddler teachers. Preschoolers through 8th graders will begin in the sanctuary before being dismissed to children’s church in Unity Hall.

If you have been feeling particularly grateful to your children’s religious education teachers this fall and would like to give them a gift by joining us in children’s worship this Sunday, please come! The success of our worshipping together sometimes relies on some strategically placed, enthusiastic adults.

Youth Ministry

In both Coming of Age and our senior youth group, youth are invited to answer some of the same questions for spiritual practice that the adults are, also focusing around the theme of sacrfice and surrender. Youth are invited and encouraged to attend adult worship and talk about the themes in their various groups. We hope you have noticed their increased attendance worshipping among us!

Coming of Age meets this Sunday and every Sunday this month except for November 25 from 12:00-1:30 pm. November 18th is a particularly special, “Meet Your Mentor” gathering. Please be there!

The Senior Youth Group meets this Sunday from 6-8 pm! All high school aged youth are urged to attend. The group will be discussing their upcoming trip to City Reach in February, a homelessness ministry experience in downtown Boston.

WINTER TEACHERS: SAVE THE DATE!! Teacher training for all winter teachers will be on Thursday, November 15 from 7-9 pm.

See you in church!

Robin