CliF Notes

A curriculum for families and small groups

 

In honor of the many winter holidays, our curriculum this month will depart from our usual format in favor of celebrating some of these holidays. Back to rituals and faith practices in January.

 

Week One – December 2nd

 Hanukkah

 

Supplies Needed: Depends on form of menorah craft chosen (see below)

 

Chalice Lighting:

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

--Albert Schweitzer

 

or

 

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

  

Check in: You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

  

Centering:

Learn and sing “Rise Up, O Flame”

 

Rise up, O flame,

By thy glowing

Show to us beauty

Wisdom and joy.

 

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyxpoqkN1R8  for the tune. This group also uses ASL along with the tune.

 

Story

The year was about 165 BCE (before the birth of Jesus). A large group of men led by Judah the Maccabee climbed to the top of a mountain overlooking Yerushalayim (Jerusalem).

After the death of Alexander the Great, conqueror of the world and friend of the Jewish people, his Empire was divided among his generals. Eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel), - the Kingdom of Judea - was added to the Empire of Antiochus III. When Antiochus Epiphanes became king of the Syrian-Greeks, he was not content to accept the taxes and loyalty of the Jews as his predecessors had done. He wanted the Jews to lay aside their Torah and ancient religion, and, in their place, substitute the Hellenistic Greek culture and Grecian idols.

King Antiochus bore down on his Jewish subjects with a measure of ruthlessness, stubbornness and cruelty that earned him the nickname Antiochus the Madman. He defiled the Temple by filling it with pagan idols and sacrifices of pigs. He forbade the Jews to observe the commandments of their religion. Jewish women were systematically mistreated.

Jews who dared to remain loyal to their faith were brutally tortured and murdered. Against this backdrop, Jewish resistance began to ebb and it seemed inevitable that the last remnants of resistance would soon be wiped out.

Then, one courageous old man turned the tide. His name was Mattisyahu and he was a Kohain - head of the Hasmonean family, from the Judean town of Modi'in near Lod. The Syrian-Greek governor of Mattisyahu's region set up an idol in Modi'in, rounded up the townspeople, and introduced an "enlightened" Jew who would sacrifice a pig on the idol in recognition of the decree of Antiochus. Old Mattisyahu stepped forward and slew the traitor.

With the rallying cry of, “Mi La’Hashem Ay-li (Whoever is for The Lord, let him come to me)," he called the people to rebellion. A pitifully small number responded at first - the people were numb with fear and hopelessness - but Mattisyahu's five sons led the way. They fought the Syrian-Greeks, retreated to the mountains, and began a guerrilla war against the Syrian-Greeks and their Jewish allies. Mattisyahu had not long to live, but on his death bed he charged his sons to carry on the struggle. The brothers followed his command. He passed on the leadership to his second son, Judah the Maccabee, who was a mighty warrior and a charismatic leader.

Many miracles happened. Outnumbered a hundred to one, Judah and his men won many battles. Jews came to join him. In a few years, he had defeated the mightiest armies of Syria. Following the rebellion, the kingdom of Israel was restored for 200 years, until the destruction of the Second Temple.

So it was that Judah and his men climbed the mountain above Jerusalem and saw that there was no resistance. On the twenty fifth day of the month of Kislev, they marched into the Holy City and immediately made their way to the Temple where they saw a sight that left them shocked and angered. Idols, filth, impurity were everywhere. They rummaged through the ruins seeking at least one flask of pure olive oil with which to light the makeshift menorah they hastily put together.

Flask after flask they found - every one of them defiled. Finally - another miracle! One small jug, sufficient for only one day, remained with the seal of the Kohain Gadol intact! Quickly, with trembling hands, they poured it into the menorah and lit it. It would be eight days before they could manufacture more oil for the next lighting, but meanwhile, they lit what they had.

The flames of the menorah burned and burned and burned and burned and burned and burned and burned and burned. For eight days they burned. (I bet you counted). Those eight miraculous days were chosen as the eternal symbol to commemorate the miracle of Chanukah - the eight day long Festival of Lights, where we light the Menorah each evening, publicizing the miracle from more than 2000 years ago.

Activity

Make a menorah (either as individuals or as a group). See https://pjlibrary.org/beyond-books/pjblog/november-2016/make-your-own-menorahs or here for printable pictures to color. You can even make a menorah by arranging marshmallows and poking candles into them.

 

Discussion

Do you think miracles really happen? If so, what miracles can you think of? Do you think a miracle has to be something that breaks the laws of nature, or could something be miraculous if it just seems amazing and wonderful? Can you think of anything you’ve see that you would can a miracle by the second definition?

 

Closing

 Literally or figuratively light the candles on your new menorah. Since tonight is the 1st  night of Chanukah, you’ll want to put in one candle, plus the helper candle (shamash) in the center (or wherever the shamash is located on your menorah. The candles are put in from right to left, so the empty spaces will be on the left of your menorah. Light the shamash, and recite the traditional blessing: Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah lights. Or, if you prefer, say it in Hebrew. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-tav Ve-tzi-va-nu Le-had-lik Ner Cha-nu-kah.  Then use the shamash to light the other candles, starting from the left.


 Week Two – December 9th   

 Rohatsu

 Supplies Needed: Tangerines (one per participant)

 Chalice Lighting:

 Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

--Gautama Buddha

 or

 We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

 

Check in

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering

Teach and sing “Bright Morning Stars”

Bright morning stars are rising,

Bright morning stars are rising,

Bright morning stars are rising,

Day is a-breaking in my soul.

 

See here for tune.

 

Introduction

This month we’ll be celebrating winter holidays. In the northern hemisphere, this is the darkest part of the year, and there are a number of holidays which focus on light. We talked back in September about symbol and ritual. Light can be a symbol for many things, and this month we’ll get a chance to pay attention to the different things that light might represent. We’ll start this week with the Buddhist holiday Rohatsu, which celebrates the enlightenment of the Buddha. Do you hear the word “light” inside the word “enlightenment”? If you are “enlightened” it’s as if a light has gone on inside your head, and you see things in a way you never saw them before. Here is the story of Buddha and his enlightenment:

 

Story

The story of Buddhism starts with a man named Siddartha Gautama.  Gautama was born in India, more than 500 years before Jesus was born.  When the young prince was born his father called for a wise man to predict the future of his little son. 

“What do you foretell for my son?  What will his life bring?” asked the king.

 The wise man paused for a long time before he responded.  “This child has a great destiny.  When your son grows up he will either become a great king who will conquer all of India or he will leave your kingdom and become a great religious leader.”

 The king said, “My son will be a great king!  I shall give him everything he could possibly want so that he will never have any desire to leave!  I shall make sure that he never sees the sorrows or troubles of the world.”

 The wise man left, but the king paced back and forth, wondering how he could protect his son from ever seeing anything unpleasant.  Then he had an idea.  He wrote out an order, and called a servant.  The king said, “Here, take this order throughout the kingdom.  It says, ‘Prince Gautama shall never be allowed to go alone outside the palace grounds.  He must not see any person who is sick, blind, crippled or old.  No one must ever mention death around him.”  The servant took the order and rode around the kingdom, telling of the king’s command.

 You might think that Prince Gautama would have grown up to be a very spoiled, bratty young man.  He wore fine silk clothes, and whenever he walked out, a servant would carry a silk umbrella to protect him from the sun and dust.  He was given three palaces to live in – one for the hot season, one for the cold season and one for the rainy season.  When he was sixteen his father arranged for him to marry a beautiful, kind princess, and they had a sweet baby boy, whom Gautama loved dearly.

 One of the prince’s favorite things to do was to ride out hunting with his favorite servant, Channa.  One day as they were riding along on their two horses, they came upon a man lying beside a rock, groaning and twitching in pain.

“What is wrong with this man?” asked Gautama.

“He is sick,” said Channa.

“Why is he sick?” asked Gautama.  “Can’t we do anything to take away his pain?”

“It’s the way of life,” replied Channa .  “This man is only a beggar.  Best just to forget about him.”

But Gautama did not forget.

 Another day the two of them were out hunting in the country when they saw a man stumbling slowly down the road, supporting himself on two canes.  The man’s hair was white, his face was wrinkled and his hands shook like leaves in the wind.

“What is wrong with this man?” Gautama asked.

“He is old,” answered Channa.

“What do you mean by old?” asked Gautama.

“It is something that happens to all who live a long time,” Channa told him.  “Their bodies become tired and weak.  Do not trouble your mind, Prince.  The man is only a beggar.”

But Gautama’s mind was troubled indeed.

 Still another day Gautama and Channa rode out through the green woods.  Gautama insisted that they follow a small path that he had never noticed before.  Behind the trees at the back of the path Gautama saw a small hut.  He walked toward it and opened the door.  There on the floor he saw a man who looked as if he were asleep, except that there was no motion of breathing in his chest.  “What is wrong with this man?” Gautama asked, yet again.

“The man is dead,” Channa said.

“Why?  What does dead mean?”

“I cannot tell you,” Channa answered.  Death comes to all people in the end.  But this man is only a beggar.  Do not worry yourself.”

But Gautama did worry.

 Even the beauty of his palaces, and his joy in his wife and child, were not enough to keep the prince from thinking over and over about what he had seen.  Why was there such suffering in the world?  How did people live with the knowledge that they would die?  How could they enjoy beauty when it would only pass away?  Why did no one seem to care about the beggars?

 Finally the prince could no longer stand to live in his sheltered palaces.  One night, when the questions kept going around and around in his head, Gautama got up out of bed.  He kissed his wife and son goodbye, and left the palace forever.  At the edge of the forest he exchanged his fine silk clothes for those of a beggar, and gave his horse and his jewelry to his faithful servant Channa.  With his wealthy life behind him, Gautama set off to find the truth about life.

 Before he had traveled far, Gautama came upon some sadhus, hindu holy men.  He said to them, “Teach me how to find wisdom.”  The monks said, “You must improve your soul to gain wisdom.  The only way to improve your soul is to make your body suffer.  You must starve your body.”

 So Gautama and the holy men went into a forest together.  They starved themselves until their bodies became hardly more than skeletons.  When Gautama pressed his hand on his belly, he could feel his backbone on the other side.  Finally, Gautama fainted from hunger, and the monks thought that he had died.  Someone, however, spooned rice and milk into his mouth, and he slowly revived.  When he was stronger Gautama said “From now on, I am going to stop starving myself!  I cannot think clearly about these important questions when I am so weak.”

 The monks said, “Gautama is no longer going to act like a truly holy man.  Let’s have nothing to do with him.”

 However, Gautama stayed with his decision to eat normally.  He said, “Self-torture is not the way to live.  A life of selfish pleasure is not the way to live, either.  A middle way is best.  Following a middle way is like playing a musical instrument whose strings are neither too loose nor too tight.

 Gautama was still determined to understand the answers to his great questions about life.  He decided that he would go on no further in his travels.  He sat down under a Bo tree, and declared “I shall not move from this spot until I gain the wisdom to understand life, death and suffering.”

 He sat there and sat there, thought and thought.  Eventually he just sat there without thinking.  Some people say he sat there for a whole week, and on the seventh morning, very early, he looked up and saw the planet Venus, which is sometimes called the morning star, since it shines like an extra bright star, early in the morning. Suddenly, wisdom finally came to him like a great flash of light. He felt that he and all the things around him, the great tree, but also the rock and the grass—everything—shone with the same light of pure truth and being that he saw in the morning star.

 After that, people called him “Buddha,” because in India the word “Buddha” means “one who has found a light.”  The light that Buddha found was no the kind that you can see with your eyes.  It was what we call “enlightenment,” a kind of inward light that brings peace and understanding.  Much later one of the many people who became followers of Gautama the Buddha asked him if he was a man or a God.  The Buddha responded, “I am awake.”  He spent his long life teaching people to become awake to the great truths of life, and his ideas eventually became the religion that we call Buddhism.

 (Depending on the age of the children you are working with, you may with to include the following information.)

The Four Noble Truths

The realization that the Buddha came to under the Bo tree had four parts.  He realized that:
1.  Everyone suffers, and feels that life is not the way they want it to be.

  1. Suffering is caused by the craving or desire for something to be permanent, but nothing in the world stays the same forever.

  2. There is a way out of suffering, of moving beyond the craving for things to be different than they are.  This state without suffering Buddha called Nirvana.

  3. Nirvana can be reached by following the Noble 8-Fold Path

 

The Noble 8-Fold Path

Right Understanding – Understand the Buddha’s teachings

Right Thought – Try not to have greedy thoughts

Right Speech – Speak in a true and kind way

Right Action – Don’t harm any living creature

Right Livelihood – Earn your living doing something that doesn’t hurt others

Right Effort – Work at living your beliefs

Right Mindfulness – Pay attention to what is inside you as well as what is around you

Right Contemplation – Meditate

 

Meditation

Meditation is a very important part of Buddhism, and the celebration of Rohatsu involves a whole week of intense meditation called a sesshin. Those participating in the sesshin try, through their meditation, to let go of all attachments, and to try to reach that state of enlightenment which the Buddha felt. We’re not going to meditate all week long, but we are going to try a kind of meditation.

 The Buddha taught that everyone suffered and felt unhappiness.  He said that suffering came from people always feeling unsatisfied with things the way they are, and always wishing that things would be different.  For instance, you could be at your own birthday party and having a great time with your friends.  But then you open your presents and find that your parents didn’t get you the game that you wanted.  You feel upset and disappointed, and suddenly your party isn’t fun anymore.  The Buddha might say to you in that situation that you are causing your own suffering by wanting things to be different than they are.  If you gave up your idea of how you wanted things to be you could enjoy things the way they really are.

 One of the ways that Buddhist learn to accept things as they are is something called meditation, which is a way of focusing on right here and right now.  We’re going to use these tangerines as part of a focusing meditation.  (Note, you could use raisins, or m&ms or whatever you want for this, and change the language accordingly.  Remember to take this fairly slowly, giving time between sentences for the kids to experience what you’re talking about.)  To start, everyone should have a tangerine in their hands and a paper plate in front of them.  I will be the only one talking through this meditation, so that everyone else can focus themselves on right here and right now.  First, take a deep breath and let it out.  Take another deep breath and let it out.  Notice what happens to your body when you breathe, how your stomach goes out when you breathe in, and goes in when you breathe out.  Keep breathing, as fast or as slow as is comfortable for you, and paying attention to your breath.  Now, bring your attention to the tangerine in your hand.  Notice the shape, and the color.  Feel the weight of it in your hand.  Each tangerine is a little bit different from each other one.  Notice the particular pattern of bumps on this tangerine’s skin.  Now, peel back a little of the tangerine’s skin.  Notice how the skin smells, and how the flesh of the tangerine smells.  Continue peeling the tangerine.  Don’t rush, but notice how the skin feels on your fingers – is it bumpy or smooth?  Is it brittle or flexible?  Is it easy to peel or difficult?  If your mind wanders, keep bringing it back to this tangerine in front of you.  Now you have peeled the tangerine, break off a section and put it in your mouth.  Before you bite down, notice how it feels on your tongue – rough or smooth?  Hard or soft?  Then bite down, and taste the juice – sweet or sour?  If there are seeds you can spit them gently on your plate, but first notice how they feel – round or pointy?  Continue eating your tangerine, paying attention to every bite.  When you are done, put your hands in your laps, and pay attention once more to your breathing.

 Moving Meditation (If you have time.)

There are various ways of meditating, but all of them are ways for people to both focus their attention.  You might think that people would do this so that they can think more clearly, but meditation is actually about trying not to think, about noticing the thoughts that pass through our heads and then letting them go.  Although the exercise we’re about to do is not a traditional form of Buddhist meditation, it is a way of doing what meditation does – focusing your attention, and letting go of thoughts and expectations.

 

(Have children pair up, splitting up kids who will have a hard time staying focused with one another.)  Face one another, and put your hands up in the air, palms facing your partner’s palms, but not touching.  Now, choose which one of you will be the leader and which the follower.  The leader slowly moves their hands, always leaving the palms toward their partner.  The partner tries to follow their movements as accurately as possible.  If you really get this going well, someone watching won’t be able to tell who is leading and who is following.  Remember, the point is not to trick your partner, or make it difficult, but to move slowly and with concentration, so that you are moving together.  (After a few minutes, switch, and have the other partner lead.)

 Discussion

Afterwards, ask the children how the experience was for them.  Was there anything special they noticed?  How did it feel?  How do they feel having done the meditation? Have they ever had and experience in which they felt enlightened – as if a light went on in their brain and they suddenly understood something or knew how to do something that they didn’t know before?

 Closing

Sing “Bright Morning Stars” again.


Week Three – December 16th

 Santa Lucia Day

 

Supplies Needed: Dough for Lucia buns or gingerbread cookies, cookie sheets, oven for baking them.

 

Opening Words and Chalice Lighting

Light chalice. For opening words use:

 

We light this candle

for the warmth of caring,

the fires of justice,

and the light of truth.

 

Check-in: You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering:

Sit in a circle around your chalice flame. Invite everyone to take a deep breath, and to get quiet, while looking at the light of the flame. Say:

In the dark of the year, we honor the light. Our chalice flame is just a little light, but it grows in the world as we carry it. Imagine that you could cup your hands and carry that light with you, so that your hands were the bowl of the chalice, and the light shone and shone from your hands, but never burned you. Imagine that you could give that gift of light, so that whoever you gave the flame to could also carry it in their hands and never be burned. Who would you give the flame to? Who might they give the flame to? Picture that bright, non-burning flame in your hands, and in the hands of all those you chose to give it to. If this is the warmth of caring, the fire of justice and the light of truth, you truly have the power to hold it and to pass it on.

 

Introduction

As we noted last week the winter holidays center around light –advent candles, the Yule fire for the winter solstice, the Hanukkah candles, Christmas lights, the Kwanzaa candles…. It seems that across the Northern Hemisphere people have a need to celebrate light during the darkest time of the year. And perhaps no place has a greater need to celebrate light at this time of year than the people of Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland). The Scandinavian countries are in the far northern part of Europe, and during midwinter they get only a couple of hours of daylight. So maybe it’s not surprising that on December 13th they celebrate a holiday called Santa Lucia. Lucia was a very early Christian saint who lived in Italy. She helped the poor, and was tortured by the Romans for her Christian faith. But it’s no coincidence that “Lucia” means light. Santa Lucia traditions actually go back to Norse midwinter celebrations that were practiced long before Christianity. So Santa Lucia is some combination of a celebration of a Sixth Century saint and an ancient celebration of the winter solstice.

 

In Sweden, the Lucia Day is celebrated all over the country in every home, school, and workplace on the morning of the 13th of December. All of the other Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway) celebrate Lucia as well. In each home usually the eldest daughter dresses in a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles. She and her sisters wake the family at dawn and serve them a breakfast of sun-colored saffron buns and gingerbread cookies. At each school, there is a gathering in the auditorium or gym first thing in the morning. The lights are dimmed and the Lucia and Lucia maids enter, singing the old song "Santa Lucia".

At every workplace they make time for a special morning "coffee break" before the day even starts and a few ladies dress up as Lucias. At most public institutions, a table is laid ready with coffee, saffron buns and gingerbread cookies for the public to enjoy all that day. On this day, as well as around Christmas, a hot mulled drink called glögg is served.

In 1927, a prominent newspaper arranged for a Lucia competition and that is when the tradition started becoming more widespread and popular. This is how each town Lucia and the country’s Lucia are chosen. The crowning of the town Lucia takes place on the First Sunday of Advent after the raising of the Christmas tree in the center of the town square. This is also the first "Christmas Decoration Sunday". This means that all of the stores decorate for Christmas in their store front windows. Mostly all of the town's population gathers downtown for this event and they walk up and down the streets checking out the new decorations in the storefront windows. The town Lucia spreads a lot of joy by visiting all of the hospitals and all of the senior citizens' homes from the first of Advent until Christmas, making sure nobody is left out. Lucia brings a message of lighter times to come during the darkest time of the year. It is a very festive atmosphere, full of good feelings, hope, and expectations.

Project

Make Santa Lucia buns or gingerbread cookies. You will probably want to make the dough ahead of time, and just have the kids form the buns or cut and decorate cookies. If making dough seems too much effort, you could add yellow food coloring and raisins to commercially available dough. The recipe calls for saffron, which is expensive and may be hard to find – you could substitute yellow food coloring or turmeric.

 Luciapepparkakor
Gingerbread Cookies

·  1 cup corn syrup

·  1 ½ cups light brown sugar

·  1 cup of butter or margarine

·  2 eggs

·  1 ½ tbsp cloves

·  1 ½ tbsp ginger

·  4 - 5 cups flour

·  1 tbsp baking soda

Warm in a big pot on low heat: syrup, sugar and butter until the butter melts, not longer. Put it aside to cool. Then mix in the eggs, spices, baking soda and flour (keeping some flour aside for rolling out the dough). Let the dough rest overnight at room temperature and cover with plastic or wax paper. The next day: roll the dough (quite thin) and cut out the cookies using a cookie cutter. Bake in an oven at 350-375° F for 6 minutes. This recipe makes about 150 cookies.

Lussebullar or Lussekatter
Saffron Bread

·  1 tbsp saffron

·  2 cups milk

·  3 tbsp yeast (quick rise)

·  1 cup butter or margarine

·  1 egg (beaten)

·  ½ tsp salt

·  1 ½ cups sugar

·  ½ cup chopped almonds

·  1 cup raisins (optional)

·  6-7 cups flour

Topping

·  1 beaten egg

·  coarse sugar

·  chopped almonds

·  raisins

Crush saffron and mix with a tbsp of sugar in a mortar. Warm the milk (not too hot) and melt the butter in the milk. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the yeast and flour. Mix the yeast in a separate bowl with a little of the flour. Add to mixture and mix well. Add the rest of the flour a little at a time. Knead and let rise in a warm place. Once risen, punch down and knead again. Roll the dough to whatever shape(s) you prefer. Place on a cookie sheet, raise, brush with egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar, almonds, and raisins. Bake "small shapes" in a very hot oven at 375-400°F for 5 to 8 minutes and bake "larger shapes" at 350-375°F for 13 to 17 minutes

Or

 

11 T. butter
6 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
3 pkg. dry yeast or 1 2/3 oz. fresh yeast
2 c. milk
1 gr. saffron -OR- 1/2 t. cardamom, 15 drops yellow food color
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. raisins
1 egg

Grind saffron with a little sugar in a mortar and pestle. Melt butter, add milk and heat to 130° (too hot to keep your finger in), add salt and saffron. Mix dry ingredients and gradually add the hot milk mixture. Knead the dough. Place in a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise 30 minutes. Knead again. Divide the dough into 30 parts. Roll into traditional shapes, add raisin decoration and place on a greased sheet. Let rise 30 minutes. Brush with beaten egg. Bake 5 minutes at 450°.

Note: Add 1/2 c. raisins to the dough if you like lots of raisins.

CLif Notes Image.png

Discussion

How do you feel in the dark? How do you feel in the light? What are some good things about darkness? What are some good things about light?

 Closing

Before you eat your buns or cookies have each person finish the sentence: “I could share our chalice light of caring, justice and truth by _____________________.


 Week Four— December 23rd

Christmas

 

Supplies Needed: Song sheet (below), simple costumes for pageant or stuffed animals/dolls/action figures to enact the story. Cocoa and cookies if so desired.

 

Chalice Lighting:

For so the children come

And so they have been coming….

No angels herald their beginnings.

No prophets predict their future courses.

No wise men see a star to

show where to find the babe

that will save humankind.

Yet each night a child is born is a holy night….

--Sophia Lyon Fahs

 

Check in:

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering:

The celebration of Christmas tends to center around giving gifts. But on Christmas and on every other day we can focus not just on the gifts we hope to receive or even the gifts we want to give, but rather the gifts that we are. We’re going to take a couple of quiet moments to think about how we, ourselves, are gifts to the world. After the silence I will turn to the person next to me, and say “You are a gift to the world.” That person will turn and say it to the person next to them, and so on around our circle.

 

Introduction:

Although Jesus probably wasn’t really born in December, many centuries ago the Christian church decided to celebrate his birth at mid-winter. It was not only a way of connecting to midwinter holidays that people already celebrated, but it made sense to them that the story of the special baby who would bring hope and joy should come at the time when we are looking toward the growing light of longer days.

 

Story/Pageant

You can turn this story into a Christmas pageant by having someone, or a series of people, read the story, while others act it out. If you only have one or two kids, they could choose dolls or stuffed animals to play the various parts, and then move the “characters” around to show the action of the story. Lyrics for the carols which are interspersed with the story/pageant are on a separate sheet.

 

THE CHRISTMAS STORY

By Ruth Gibson


Now this is the Christmas story. It happened long ago, in a far away land of Judea. A man and a woman named Joseph and Mary had to make a long journey to the city of Bethlehem, because there was a new law that said everyone had to go to the city where they were born to pay their taxes. It was a long trip to Bethlehem - three days of walking, all day - because in those old days they didn't have cars or buses, and only rich people had horses and carriages. Mary and Joseph were going to have a baby soon, and Joseph worried about Mary. He didn't think it was a good idea for her to make such a long hard journey, but he sure didn't want to leave her alone, with their baby coming so soon and all.

"Don't worry, Joseph," Mary said. "I can ride our little donkey, She's strong and gentle and will carry me safely. We'll go to Bethlehem together."

 

Song: O Little Town of Bethlehem

 Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in the dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above
While mortals sleep the angels keep their watch of wondering love
Oh morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth.
And praises sing to God the king, and peace to all on earth.

So off they went. Every morning they started out early, with bags of bread and cheese and olives and oats for the donkey - so that whenever they were hungry they could stop and rest and eat. At night they would find an inn where they could sleep for the night.

Mary was glad when they saw the rooftops of Bethlehem in the distance. "Joseph, dear," she said, "let's stay at the first inn we come to. I think our baby is almost ready to be born." But when they got to Bethlehem, they found the little town crowded with people! They stopped at the first inn they came to and knocked on the door. But the innkeeper told them, "I'm sorry, there is no more room here."

 

At the next inn the innkeeper said, "We're full. Try the place three streets over. It's bigger." Joseph tried another place and another place, but everywhere it was the same story: "Go away, can't you see we're full already?" "Sorry, no room for you here."

All afternoon, they kept looking for a place to stay. Joseph was so worried, he didn't know what to do. "Don't be sad," said Mary. "We'll find a place and everything will be OK." It was almost night when they saw a house at the edge of town with a light in the window. Joseph knocked at the door, and told the innkeeper, "Please help us. We need a place for the night. My wife is going to have a baby soon and I don't think she can travel any farther." And the innkeeper said, "There's no room in the inn. But don't worry. We'll find someplace for you to rest."

 

And the innkeeper showed Mary and Joseph to a quiet little barn where the animals were. It was clean and warm and smelled like sweet hay. Mary smiled and said, "This is just right for us. All those other inns were too noisy. We can rest here."

That very night, the little baby was born, It was a boy, and they named him Jesus. Mary and Joseph wrapped him in the soft swaddling cloth they had brought with them, and made a little bed for him in the hay.

 

There were angels in the sky, looking for good news in the world, and when they saw what was going on at the stable behind the inn, they paid attention. Mary and Joseph never saw the angels, but the angels saw them and their little baby and said, "Oh! What a beautiful child!" And they got ready to spread the good news.

 

That night, like every night, there were shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem, watching the flocks of sheep. (You have to keep your eye on sheep, or they wander off and become lost or hurt.) The shepherds were singing songs and telling stories, just like always, when suddenly they were amazed by a very bright light in the sky, and a strange song coming from nowhere and everywhere, all at once. It was the angels and they were glorious. And they said, "Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to all people on earth." They told the shepherds to go find the baby and to tell everyone else about it. And then they flew away, singing, "Glory! Glory!"

 

Song: It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

 It came upon a midnight clear,
that glorious song of old,
from angels bending near the earth
to touch their harps of gold:
'Peace on the earth, good will to men,
from heaven's all-gracious King!'
The world in solemn stillness lay
to hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
with peaceful wings unfurled;
and still their heavenly music floats
o'er all the weary world;
above its sad and lowly plains
they bend on hovering wing,
and ever o'er its Babel sounds
the blessed angels sing.

For, lo! the days are hastening on,
by prophet bards foretold,
when with the ever-circling years,
comes round the age of gold,
when peace shall over all the earth
its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world give back the song
which now the angels sing.

After the angels had gone away, the shepherds remembered what they had said - that a wonderful baby had been born and that they could find it, wrapped in swaddling cloth and lying in a manger, and that a bright star would show them where to go. So the shepherds all said to each other, "Those angels are very strange, but let's go look for that baby."

 

They had no trouble finding the stable, because of the bright star, and sure enough, there inside were Mary and Joseph, watching their little baby, Jesus, who was sleeping.

And the shepherds all said (very quietly), "Oh! What a beautiful child!" And one of the shepherds gave Mary and Joseph a little wooden lamb he had been carving, and others gave them blankets and hats made out of warm sheep wool and raisins and figs to eat. Then they went away and told everyone what they had seen.

 

Most people don't notice quiet things like special bright stars in the sky. Shepherds do, because they are outside a lot at night. And on this night so long ago, there were some others who saw the star. They were wise ones, who noticed things and thought about them. They had seen this star a long time ago, when it was new in the sky, and they watched it grow brighter and brighter. The wise ones said, "Look at the amazing star! It must be shining for something very special!" They decided to go and see what this new star was shining for. So they loaded up their camels with treasures and traveling supplies and followed the star all the way to Bethlehem.

 

Song: We Three Kings

We three kings of Orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder Star.

Chorus:
O, star of wonder, star of might,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.


Born a babe on Bethlehem's plain;
Gold we bring to crown Him again;
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

Chorus 

Jesus was only a few days old when the wise ones found him. When they saw him they said, "Oh! What a wonderful child! This child will be our teacher." And they gave the baby gifts of gold, and valuable spices like frankincense and myrrh.

Mary and Joseph wondered for a long time about all of these things that happened when their little child was born.

"Isn't it strange," said Joseph, "that all of these people would come to see our baby. And give us presents for him. They don't even know us."

"It is strange," Mary said, "but maybe not so strange. New babies just have to be loved - and people who love children are never strangers."

 

When Jesus grew up, he was a teacher, just like the wise ones said. And one of the most important things he tried to teach people was to love each other and to treat even strangers with kindness and care.

 

Closing

When the song of angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,

To heal the broken

To feed the hungry

To release the prisoner,

To rebuild the nations,

To bring peace among brothers [and sisters],

To make music in the heart.

--Howard Thurman

 

You may want to finish with cocoa and cookies

 

Christmas Carol Lyrics for Dec. 24th Lesson

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in the dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above
While mortals sleep the angels keep their watch of wondering love
Oh morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth.
And praises sing to God the king, and peace to all on earth.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

It came upon a midnight clear,
that glorious song of old,
from angels bending near the earth
to touch their harps of gold:
'Peace on the earth, good will to men,
from heaven's all-gracious King!'
The world in solemn stillness lay
to hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
with peaceful wings unfurled;
and still their heavenly music floats
o'er all the weary world;
above its sad and lowly plains
they bend on hovering wing,
and ever o'er its Babel sounds
the blessed angels sing.

For, lo! the days are hastening on,
by prophet bards foretold,
when with the ever-circling years,
comes round the age of gold,
when peace shall over all the earth
its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world give back the song
which now the angels sing.

  

We Three Kings of Orient Are

 We three kings of Orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder Star.

Chorus:
O, star of wonder, star of might,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.


Born a babe on Bethlehem's plain;
Gold we bring to crown Him again;
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

Chorus


Week Five -  December 30th  

Kwanzaa

 Supplies Needed: drums or other rhythm instruments; a variety of nuts (if no one in group is allergic), dried fruit and/or small pretzels, bowl, large spoon, small cups; boom box/stereo/mp3 player with music

 Chalice Lighting:

 Each of us has a little light, but together we shine like the sun.

or

 We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

 Check in: See week one.

 

Centering:

Sing “Rise Up, O Flame” as in week one

 

Rise up, O flame,

By thy glowing

Show to us beauty

Wisdom and joy.

  

Introduction

Kwanzaa is a holiday which runs from December 26 to January 1st. Unlike most holidays, which people have celebrated in one way or another for hundreds of years, Kwanzaa was invented a little more than 40 years ago. Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga wanted a holiday that would celebrate the Africa-American community and remind African-American families of the values that he thought were important for strong families and communities. And so he came up with seven principles for the seven days--giving them names from Swahili, an African language--and used symbols from African harvest celebrations to create a brand-new holiday. Today we’ll be looking at each of the principles, with a story or activity for each one. Just out of curiosity, can you think of anything else that has seven principles? Next week we’ll go back to looking at our seven Unitarian Universalist principles.

  


Symbol 1.png

Principle 1 -- Umoja (Unity)
Unity means togetherness, standing together in support of one another.

 To practice unity, if you have enough people, do a lap sit. Join together in a very tight circle with everyone’s right (or left) shoulder in toward the center of the circle. You will need enough people to be able to form a circle with people standing almost back to back. Then, all at the same time, have everyone sit down, so that each person is sitting on the lap of the person behind them.

If you don’t have enough people for a lap sit, have participants stand facing each other, hands open and raised to about head level. Standing palm to palm, have participants lean in, finding a balance point so that they are supporting one another.

 

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Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
Self-determination means to think and speak and decide for yourself.

 Here is an African story about self-determination:

 The Three Tests

Once, long ago three tigers came to Africa. They went to the country of the animals and made this terrible announcement.
"From now on, this land will be ruled by the Tigers. We are, after all, the strongest, fastest and wisest of all animals. Therefore, we are the only fit rulers." they claimed.
A little mouse spoke up from the crowd, "But we have a council where we make our decisions together, we don't need or want any ruler."
One of the tigers let out a roar so loud and fierce that the poor mouse started running and didn't stop until he was in the land of the humans. To this day, he lives in the houses of humans. Her cousin, the field mouse misses her terribly.
The other animals didn't like the idea much either, but they looked at those tigers' big claws and sharp teeth and were afraid to speak. These tigers were even bigger than the lion.
"We will collect taxes and we'll also change the name of this country. From now on, this will be Tigerland and you will call yourselves servants of the tigers." they said.
Finally, Anansi spoke. "Great tigers, it is clear that you are strong, fast and wise, but just so that everyone will know for sure that you are stronger, faster and wiser than anyone
else, let us have a contest." Anansi suggested.
The tigers liked the idea, so Anansi continued. "Let us prepare ourselves, then tomorrow we will choose someone to compete against each of you."
So the tigers left and the animals held a private meeting to discuss what to do.
The next morning, the animals were ready. The tigers came to the council circle. The strongest tiger spoke first. "Who will compete against me?" he asked.
"I will." said the tiny voice of the field mouse.
The tiger laughed until he cried. "This will not take long." he said.
"Who will race me?" roared the swiftest tiger.
"I will." said the tortoise.
"This is no contest at all!" shouted the tigers.
Hare told the third tiger, " I must bring you to the home of the owl. She is the wisest of all creatures."
"We will see," said the tiger.
First was the contest of strength. The field mouse brought the tiger to a large clearing. They each stood at one edge of the clearing with one end of a rope. Between them was placed hundreds of big thorn bushes. When she gave a signal of two short tugs on the rope, the tiger was to start pulling. The loser would get dragged across the thorns.
The tiger laughed at the little mouse and said that he was ready. She gave the signal, and the tiger began to pull. What he didn't know was that behind the field mouse, standing in the forest was a great bull elephant holding onto the rope. So while the tiger pulled on one end, the elephant pulled on the other. The tiger got dragged all the way through the thorn bushes yelling, "Ouch! OOOCH! Ouch! Ouch!" all the way.
"If this is how strong the mice are, I would hate to see what the other animals can do!" he shouted.
Next was the race. The tortoise brought the fastest tiger to a five-mile stretch of road in the forest. At each mile marker, one of tortoise's cousins was hiding. (To the tiger they would all look alike.)
When the race began, Tiger went zooming away, leaving the tortoise in his dust. As he was coming to the first mile marker, the tiger was laughing to himself.
"How could a tortoise think he could outrun me?" he said.
Just then, Tortoise came out from his hiding place behind the mile marker.
"What took you so long, Mr. Tiger?" he asked politely.
Tiger was shocked. "How did you get here so fast?!" he screamed.
Tortoise didn't answer. He just slowly plodded off toward the next marker. The tiger zoomed past him and ran at top speed to the second mile-marker, only to find Tortoise sitting there waiting.
"I really thought tigers were faster than this." he said, sounding very disappointed.
"I'll beat you yet!" shouted the tiger as he sped to the next marker. At this third marker, Tortoise was sitting down playing a game of mancala with Anansi and laughing about how easy the race was. Tiger couldn't believe his eyes.
At the fourth marker, Tortoise was asleep, snoring loudly. Tiger sped by him so fast that he left the tortoise spinning like a top.
Finally, tiger was racing toward the finish line. Tortoise was nowhere in sight. Tiger was running at full speed. Nothing could stop him now. Yet, as he got closer to the line, he noticed a little round thing sitting there. It must be a rock he told himself. But as he got closer, he saw that little head and those four little legs and he knew. Tortoise was already there!
"It's impossible!!" he screamed. But no matter how much he screamed, it didn't change the fact that Tortoise had won the race.
Now the hare was bringing the third tiger to the home of the wise old owl. But the hare kept complaining of stomach pains and said that he couldn't walk very well.
"Can't you get someone else to show me the way?" said the tiger angrily.
"I'm the only one who knows the way," whispered Hare, "It's a secret."
Tiger was irritated. " Then you'll just have to ride on my back," he said.
They rode on for a little while, but the hare kept letting himself slide off the tiger's back, so they weren't making much progress.
"If you bring me to my house, I can get my saddle." Hare suggested, "That way, I won't slip off." So the tiger brought the hare home and let Hare put a saddle on him.
"And if you let me use these reins," Hare continued, "I can steer you left or right without talking so much. I have a sore throat you know."
Tiger agreed. Then the hare went into his house and came out wearing spurs and carrying a whip.
"Wait a minute!" said Tiger, "What's all that for?!"
"Oh I just wear these spurs for show." Hare said. "And the whip is so I can keep the flies off you while you're giving me a ride."
"Okay," said the tiger, "But be careful."
So they rode on, but not to the owl's home. They went right to the council circle. All the other animals were gathered there. When Hare came in sight of the other animals, he dug his spurs into the tiger's sides and snapped that whip against the tiger's backside and yelled "GITTY UP HORSEY!"
That tiger went jumping and howling through the crowd looking about as foolish as a fool can look. All the animals laughed and laughed. The other tigers were so embarrassed that they pleaded with the hare to stop.
The hare got off the tiger's back and took his saddle and reins. Those tigers agreed never to come back to Africa again. That's why, to this day, there are no tigers in the forests of Africa.
And everyone got along fine in the land of animals with everyone as equals, no kings, no queens, no rulers.

Symbol 3.png

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
Collective work means to work together for the good of the whole. When we work as a collective we can create things that no one person can do by themselves.

 Rhythm and music are good examples of things that we can do as a group of people cooperating together, creating a sound that is much richer than what one person can make by themself. Using drums, rhythm instruments or simply slapping on body parts or the floor, create a rhythm band. Start with one person who sets the rhythm, and ask people to listen carefully as, one by one, they join in the sound. You may wish to give more than one person the chance to set the rhythm.

 

Symbol 4.png

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
Cooperative economics means to share our resources and talents to build businesses that help the whole community.

 Set out an array of different kinds of nuts (if no one is allergic), dried fruits, or other items that you might find in trail mix. Ask participants to cooperate together in creating and stirring together a trail mix. When it is finished, scoop up a small cup full for each person to enjoy as a snack.

Symbol 5.png

Nia (Purpose)
We feel our purpose when we know what we want from our lives and work hard to make our dreams come true.

 Here is an African story about Purpose:

The Name of the Tree

Once there was a terrible drought in the land of the animals. A kindly king came from over the mountain and planted a special tree. He told them that this tree would bear fruit all year round in any kind of weather. All they had to do to get the fruit was to speak its name. The name of the tree was Oowungalema.

The animals thanked the kind old king and he returned to his own land, which was far over the mountain. The animals then sounded the Great Drum to call everyone for miles around.

When all were gathered at the tree, the lion asked Anansi to speak the name of the tree.

"I thought you were going to remember the name!" said Anansi.

"I don't remember the name!" said the lion, "Someone must know it!"

They asked everyone who had been there when the old king planted the tree, but not one of them could remember the name of the tree. They decided to send someone to ask the king for the name. They were all very hungry, so they decided to send someone fast. They sent the hare.

The hare ran as fast as he could through villages, across the river, through the bush, over the mountain and straight to the court of the kindly old king. The king told him, "The name of the tree is Oowungalema."

The hare ran back, repeating the name to himself as he went along. On the way home, he stopped at the river to rest and take a drink. The water was nice and cool. It felt good

after all that running. The hare splashed around for a while to cool himself off, then he got out of the water and started back to the tree.

When he got back, the animals all cheered. "Now we can have the fruit!" they shouted.

Hare went up to the tree to speak the name,"Oomagamoomoo,no, oobapadoopa, ...Noomooogamooga.."

Try as he might, the hare just couldn't remember the name.

"We have to send someone else." Lion said at last.

So the springbok was sent. She ran all the way to the king over the mountain and tried to keep the name in her head all the way home, but coming through the forest, she tripped

over a root and bumped her head. The name was lost again.

Next they sent Leopard, but on the way back he started chasing a monkey who was teasing him. He forgot the name as well.

Many others tried and failed until finally, the tortoise asked if she might go. Most of the animals laughed because the tortoise is so slow.

"Give her a chance!" Anansi said, "She may succeed where the rest of us have failed."

The tortoise went to her mother and asked, "What do you do if you must remember something very important?"

Her mother told her to keep repeating it no matter what happens. So the tortoise set out on her journey. When she reached the king over the mountain, he said, "The name of the tree is Oowungalema."

Tortoise kept repeating it over and over to herself all the way home. When the monkeys teased her in the forest, she only said, "Oowungalema." (Have listeners say this word along with tortoise.)

When she passed by the river and the sound of the water made her thirsty, she looked at the water and said, "Oowungalema."

And when she got near her house and her children came running to her, she only said, "Oowungalema."

Finally, the tortoise came to the tree. All the other animals were anxiously waiting. The lion spoke, "Tortoise, please speak the name of the tree."

Tortoise said, "Oowungalema."

At last, the animals were able to eat the fruit. Everyone was grateful to the tortoise who kept to her purpose where every one else had failed.

Symbol 6.png

Kuumba (Creativity)
We use our creativity when we write stories, draw pictures, sing songs, dance or make anything that is beautiful or new.

 Practice creativity by dancing along to music in any way that feels right to you.

Symbol 7.png

Closing: Imani (Faith)
We finish with faith – faith in one another and in ourselves, the firm belief that we can make a better, more caring, more peaceful, more fair and more beautiful world.

 Join hands in a circle. Raise joined hands up to the sky together and all say “imani” before letting go.