Religious Education at Home for preschoolers, kids, youth and adults
from material developed by Lauren Wyeth, Director of Children, Youth & Family Ministries at the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis
You and I grow wiser and brighter together.
3rd Principle Playlist
Listen to our 3rd Principle playlist here or build your own collection of songs to remind you of how we encourage and support each others’ spiritual health and growth. Put it on as you’re starting your day, winding down at night, or anytime you want to fill your home with the reminder that you’re not alone.
“Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.”
Read a reflection on our 3rd Principle from the Rev. Rob Hardies on the UUA website.
[Image description: The words “accept one another + encourage spiritual growth,” in dark green letters, are superimposed on a background of overlapping circles in a variety of pale greens.]
Suggested Activity: Sharing Joys, Sorrows, Worries and GratitudesOur 3rd Principle draws our attention to the importance of relationships to our spiritual growth. Loving family and community help us keep going when the going gets tough. They hold hope for us when it slips from our grasp. They believe in us and our potential. And they remind us that we don’t need to do it alone.When we share what’s in our hearts at church, we remind our children that “sharing burdens makes them lighter and sharing joys makes them brighter.”
Through our efforts to support others, we grow, too. We experience ourselves as people capable of empathy, people with resources to share, people with the capacity to comfort and bear witness. We come to understand the common bond of humanity that we share with everyone, everywhere.
Before a family meal, light a chalice or a candle. (Find suggested chalice lighting words at the top of this page.) During the meal, share your joys, sorrows, worries and gratitudes -or- to talk about how church has supported your spiritual growth. At the end of the meal, sing Spirit of Life.
Watch the video above, Be a Mr. Jensen
For middle- and high school youth
The video of Mr. Jensen illustrates what it means to really accept and encourage another person. Lots of other people had responded to the boy in ways that weren’t accepting or encouraging. Mr. Jensen’s response made a big difference in the his life.
Some of us get in trouble a lot. We get a lot of negative feedback from teachers, or from other kids, or maybe from both. And all of us get negative feedback sometimes, from teachers, or from other kids, or both. In your journal or on a piece of paper, take a couple of minutes to write down one or two things that you’ve gotten in trouble for more than once. Most of us have certain behaviors that we tend to get negative feedback on, that come up repeatedly. Write down, also, how you feel about how people respond to you when you behave that way.
Do you have a trusted friend or family member you could talk with about your feelings? If so, consider showing them this video and then sharing your own story. If not, consider reaching out for support from a minister or staff person at church or at school. Email them a link to this video and let them know you’d like to talk. You deserve a Mr. Jensen, too.
There are many children’s stories and wisdom tales that show that when we accept and encourage one another, we grow brighter and wiser. Here are a few for families:
Questions for reflection, discussion or journaling:
For all ages
- In the story Sophia’s Guest, Sophia thought God was coming, so she set out to make her home welcoming. What attracted her neighbors? How did her neighbors make the gathering even more welcoming?
- What would God’s presence feel like? Do you think God was at Sophia’s party?
- Have you ever felt the presence of something holy or sacred? When? What did it feel like?
- What do you think Sophia learned from this experience?
- Consider: In the story, Sophia’s guests created a holy place through the way they prepared a place for God. But in a twist, the holy was present simply because of the way they welcomed and treated one another. Our UU faith tells us that when we accept one another and encourage each other, we all become brighter and wiser.
For high school youth and adults
Though these stories may sound as though they’re just for little ones, their messages are relevant to people of all ages. For example, after reading A Lamp in Every Corner, consider:
- What originally brought you to church? What has kept you connected and engaged with church?
- What light do you bring to the church? What light do you take home?
- How have you been changed by your church community?
- Have you shared the story of your spiritual and religious journey with your family? if not, are you willing to talk about it with them, and to invite them to share their stories with you?
For parents and caregivers:
- Why did you choose this religious community for your family? How do you hope it will help your child develop? Have you told your child why/how you chose this community for them?
- Sometimes, as our children grow, we fail to notice that their capacity for understanding and benefiting from hearing our stories has changed. Is there more you could share at this point, to help your child deepen their understanding of the power and potential of religious community?