CliF Notes

A curriculum for families and small groups

 


January 2019

 

Week One – January 6th    

Prayer as Aspiration and Hope/New Year’s

 

Supplies Needed: Paper (colored construction paper is good), magazines to cut up, scissors, glue sticks, markers

 Note: If you created an opening worship during the September session that you would like to use, by all means substitute that for all or some of what is suggested here and in the weeks to follow.

 Opening Words

 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.

 

Or

 In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

 

 

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

Sing “Rise Up, O Flame”(#362 in Singing the Living Tradition)

 Rise up, O flame,

By thy light glowing,

Show to us beauty,

Vision and joy.

 

See https://www.questformeaning.org/oldsite/clf.uua.org/podcasts/Rise%20Up,%20O%20Flame.mp3 for tune.

 

 Introduction

In the past few months, in addition to celebrating winter holidays, we’re been talking about some of the different rituals that different faith communities celebrate. But, of course, religions do a lot of other things besides celebrate “rites of passage,” rituals that mark special times in a person’s life. This month we’re going to look at something that belongs to almost all religious traditions, but is a day-to-day practice, not something that marks a particular time of life. Our subject for this month is prayer. What do you think prayer is? Prayer can be a lot of different things. Most people think of prayer as being a way of connecting with God, or whatever they might call that highest and best thing. But some people pray without believing in any sort of higher power at all. So maybe it will work best to think about prayer by looking at the different things that people try to do when they pray. One of the ways people pray is to express their hopes and wishes and dreams for their life. They use prayer as a way to focus on what they wish were different, or better. Here is a story about a girl who tries prayer as a way to change something in her life that she’s not satisfied with:

 

Story

Being with God in Prayer
From Stories About God by Mary Ann Moore

Once there was a child who had problem and this problem was this. All of her friends would climb up to the top of the highest slide on the playground and slide down but, although she liked to slide on the smaller slide, she was afraid to go up to the top of the highest slide. And there was more to the problem; her friends sometimes teased her because she wouldn't slide down the highest slide. Sometimes they called her "a baby".

Up to now whenever she thought about this problem she just got very tight inside and didn't want to talk about it. When her friends called her a baby she just said, "No, I'm not. I just like the smaller slide better." But now she was starting to notice how exciting it was to go down the big slide and how much fun her friends were having and she wished that she could do it too. But she still was afraid.

She wanted to explain to someone about how she felt but she didn't know who to talk to. One day when she was visiting her grandmother by herself, she said, "Grandmother, I want to talk to somebody about a problem but not my friends, or my teachers, or my parents." Her grandmother said, "Well, you certainly can share it with me, if you want to, or you could share it with God, like in a prayer."

"Share it with God in a prayer!" the girl replied, "How do you do that? Do you have to use special words, like Amen?" "No," her grandmother explained, "you can just talk like you would with anyone or you can sit quietly and just think and feel." "Don't you have to go to a special place to pray, like church?" the girl asked. "No, you can be with God anywhere, although church is a good place," said her grandmother. "I saw some people pray once and they bowed their heads and put their hands in a special way. Do you have to do those things?" "Not at all," her grandmother reassured her, "Though bowing your head or closing your eyes or holding your hands together and near your heart is sometimes helpful."

"You can use any words, you can be anywhere and you can haveyour body anyway that is comfortable for you," her grandmother went on, "but there are three things you must remember when you pray." "What are they?" the girl asked. "The first is that when you share something with God, you also have to listen; the second is that sometimes you have to wait to hear God answer; and the third is that God may surprise you." "Thank you, Grandmother," the girl said as she hugged her. "I'm going to try sharing my problem with God and I will remember what you told me."

So when the girl went home, she went into her bedroom, sat comfortably on her bed and said, "Hi, God. I have a problem I want to share with you" and then she told God all about the high slide and the teasing and how she wished she could get brave enough to go down the slide now.

And then she waited quietly, listening. As she listened she heard same words going around in her head: "sliding--so high--scared--climbing--fun." And as she listened she heard some more words: "you go up the small slide--the big slide is just a few more steps--once you were afraid to let go in the water and swim but all of sudden one day you did it--when you are ready--you can do it"--and she wondered, "Is that God helping me with my problem?" That night as she slept she had a dream and in her dream there was a great huge slide that went all the way up into the clouds and in her dream she was climbing up the steps of the slide with God following behind her. When she got to the top she sat down and she heard God say, "Go!" and then, with a cry of "Here I go," she pushed off and slid all the way back to earth, and God did too. It was so exciting and wonderful that right away she did it again. When she woke up she remembered her dream and wondered, "Was God really there, in my dream?"

For several days she shared her problem with God, and she dreamed at night, and she went to school and looked at the high slide but she still went down the small one. Then one day a boy was sliding with her on the small slide and he said, "I want to go down the big slide but I'm afraid to do it by myself. Would you come over and climb up right behind me? If you were there with me I don't think I'd be so afraid?" "Sure," the girl said, surprising herself, "I'll come with you."

And so they went to the slide and the boy started climbing up and the girl climbed right behind him. When he got to the top, he sat down very carefully and then off he went, down, down the slide. "I did it," he yelled out, "because you were there and I knew I wouldn't fall." All this time the girl had not been thinking about how high the slide was because she was thinking about helping the boy. Now she saw she was almost to the top. She just had one more step to go and she wasn't afraid, well, not very much. So she climbed up the last she wasn't afraid, well, not very much. So she climbed up the last step, sat down, and heard a voice within her saying, "Go, you can do it!!" and so down she went sucking in her breath with the thrill of it. And then the boy and the girl went up and down the slide over and over again.

That night again in her room, the girl said to God, "lt is good to be with you. I had to listen hard and I had to wait but you were with me. And you surely did surprise me today!! I didn't know I was ready but I guess you did. Thanks, God, and oh, yes, Amen."

 

Discussion

What do you think changed things for the girl, so that she was able to go down the big slide? Was it God? Was it getting braver by talking about her fears and how she might get past them? Was it the boy who needed her help? If you pray for something to change, how would you know if your prayer had been answered?

 

Activity

The New Year seems like a particularly good time to focus on our wishes and hopes and dreams for the coming year. One way to pray would be, like the girl in the story, to talk to God and express your problems and how you might like your life to change. But another way to express our hopes and dreams for the coming year is to do it through pictures. We’re each going to make a collage of the things that we hope will come into our lives in the coming year. It might be actual things, like a tennis racket or a dog; or it might be skills, like doing a cartwheel or keeping our temper when we’re frustrated; or it could be feelings, like not being scared of the dark. You can make your picture-prayer by cutting out pictures from magazines and gluing them onto your paper, or you can draw what you’re thinking of or you can use words or do any combination to make your picture-prayer express your hopes and dreams and goals for the coming year.

 

Closing

Have each person share aloud what they put on their collage and why. Close by saying: “May our hopes and dreams and wishes and goals become reality in the year to come.”


 Week Two – January 13th   

Prayer as Giving Thanks

  

Supplies Needed:

Song sheets or poster with words of Centering song, paper, pencils, crayons or markers, metal bowl with sand or dirt in the bottom (not peat moss or potting soil, which can burn), pitcher of water

 

Opening Words

 

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.

 

Or

 In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

  

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

Sing “Spirit of Life”(#123 in Singing the Living Tradition)

 

Spirit of Life, come unto me,

Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.

Blow in the wind, rise in the sea,

Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.

Roots hold me close, wings set me free;

Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.

 

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcFZ32EHexY  for tune, or sing along with the video, which has the lyrics.

 

 Introduction

Last week we talked about prayer as a way of wishing or hoping or intending. Many people think of prayer mostly this way, or simply as a kind of asking for things. And certainly, that is one way that people pray. But there are other kinds of prayers that hold even more important roles in religions of the world. People from many different religions, for instance, offer prayers of thanks. This story is about the Jewish prayers of thanksgiving, or blessing, called brachot.

 

Story

Grandpa’s Blessing, by Lynn Ungar

 

“Grampa,” Jacob asked as he settled into his favorite chair in the old man’s living room, “can I ask you a question?”

“Of course. How would I learn anything if you didn’t ask me questions?”

Jacob snorted. “Yeah, right. It’s just there’s something you do that I’ve always wondered about.”

“Only one thing?” asked his grandfather with a grin.

“Well, one thing I’m wondering about right now. It seems like whenever I come in your house you always mutter something that I can’t quite hear. What is it that you’re saying?”

“Aha! Caught in the act! Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you. Do you know what a bracha is?”

“Sure. It’s like the blessings that we say over the bread and the wine and the candles every Shabbat. Baruch ata adonai eloheynu melech ha’olam…etc., etc., etc.”

“That’s right. So do you say a bracha any other times?”

“Well, sure,” Jacob replied, “like over the Chanukah candles, and when we wash our hands before the Passover meal and everything.”

“Right again. But there are brachot for just about everything in life. Not just for anything you eat or drink. There are fifteen different brachot just for the process of getting up in the morning!”

“Like, ‘Blessed are you, lord our God, ruler of the universe, for giving us cotton for socks and underwear?’” Jacob snorted again.

“Not quite,” his grandfather admitted, “but close. Did you know there’s even a blessing for going to the bathroom in the morning?”

“Now I know you’re making this up. That’s crazy!”

“No, really, it’s true. Tradition says that the Jew should say at least 100 blessings in the course of a day. And that anyone who eats without saying the blessing first is a thief.”

“A thief?” Jacob responded in amazement, “How does that work? It’s not like I snuck out and stole a box of Cheerios during the night.”

“No,” responded his grandfather in a thoughtful tone, “but think about it like this. What if someone sent you a really great birthday present…”

“Any chance you were planning on getting me an emerald tree snake?”

“None. For one thing, your mother would never speak to me again. But that’s not the point. If someone sent you a really great birthday present, wouldn’t you send a thank you note?”

“I’d better,” grimaced Jacob, “or my mother would never speak to me again.”

“So what if someone kept showering you with presents, every day, day after day? Would you then assume that you were someone who just deserved to get presents all the time?”

“I guess not. That would be kind of greedy and rude. But I’d sure want to figure out how to write really short thank you notes.”

“Exactly! That’s what a bracha, is, a really short thank you note. It’s not the length of the note that matters, it’s how sincere you are in what you say. Judaism tells us that we get presents over and over again, every day, like being able to stand up when we get out of bed, or see the daylight, or eat a piece of fruit. So we send back lots of little thank you notes, so that we don’t forget that almost all the good things we enjoy in life are gifts—not something we earned or made happen, but presents that come from beyond us.”

“So eating without saying a blessing is like being greedy and assuming that something was already yours, when in fact it’s a present that you should say thank you for.” Jacob’s forehead crinkled just a little as he sorted through the ideas.

“You got it! And what do you call someone who thinks that something belongs to them when it doesn’t?”

“A thief?”

“Got it again! So now you have your answer.”

“No I don’t. Grandpa, you didn’t answer the question at all!”

“I didn’t?” Jacob shook his head. “What was the question?” inquired the old man.

“You were going to tell me what it is that you mutter every time I come over to your house.”

“Right! Well, I only say it so quiet because I don’t want to embarrass you. But the truth is that I have a special blessing for the joy of a grandson coming to visit.”

“The rabbis made up a bracha for visiting grandkids? Shoot, those guys thought of everything!”

“Well, maybe. Frankly, I have no idea whether there’s an official, traditional blessing for visiting grandchildren or not. I just made up my own.”

“You can do that?”

“Sure, why not?”

“OK, so out with it, Grandpa, what do you say?”

“Blessed are you, lord our God, ruler of the universe, creator of small people with many questions.”

Jacob snorted one more time. “Really? Is that really what you say?”

“No. Really what I say is ‘Blessed are you, lord our God, ruler of the universe, who brings love in all seasons.”

 

Activity

What are you thankful for? What is one thing that someone has given you that you are thankful for? What is one thing that someone has done for you that you are thankful for? What is one thing about who you are that you are thankful for?

 Prayers of thanksgiving, whether it’s saying grace before dinner or the Hebrew brachot, are like thank you notes to God or the universe for all the gifts of life. So one way of offering prayers of thanksgiving would be to actually make thank you notes. You could make a thank you note for a particular person or people if you wanted, but to make it a prayer your thank you note would need to be to God or the universe or the Spirit of Life. Think of some thing or things that you are grateful for, and then make a thank you card showing with words and/or pictures what you give thank for.

 

Discussion

When you say thank you for the gifts of life, who are you thanking? Can you still offer prayers of thanks if you don’t believe in God?

 

Closing

It’s hard to know how to deliver thank you notes when you don’t have an address to send them to. So we’re going to do like the ancient Jews, back thousands of years ago, used to do in the great Temple in Jerusalem, and have a burnt offering. The idea of a burnt offering is that the essence or energy of the thing you are offering goes out to God, since you can’t actually deliver the items. We’re going to go outside and – very carefully – burn these thank you cards as our way of sending out our prayers of thanks. (Use a metal bowl or pot, preferably with sand in the bottom, as a receptacle for your burn offering. Have a pitcher of water and a cover for the bowl/pot handy in case of emergency. As each person offers their card to be burn they should have the option of sharing aloud what they put on the card.)


 Week Three – January 20th

Prayer as Devotion

 

Supplies Needed: Poster board (1 piece per child) or roll/butcher paper, pencils, markers

 

Opening Words and Chalice Lighting

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.

 

Or

 

In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

  

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:

Sing “Alhamdulliha” This simple song by William Allaudin Mathieu comes from the Muslim faith, and uses the Arabic equivalent of “Alleluia” as the only word in the text.

 

See https://www.questformeaning.org/music/Alhamdullilah.mp3  for the tune.

 

Introduction

So far this month we’ve talked about prayer as hopes and wishes, and prayer as saying thank you. But there’s another kind of prayer that is very important in pretty much all religious traditions, most especially Hinduism and the branch of Islam called Sufism. This kind of prayer is that of devotion—of trying to directly connect with God/Allah/the Divine/etc through an experience of love and oneness.

 

Story

There is a very ancient Hindu story: Narada, the heavenly messenger, was once going to Heaven to see the god Vishnu. On the way he met an old sannyasin sitting under a tree. A sannyasin is a Hindu who has given up all of their possessions, their job, all their worldly life in order to devote themselves entirely to devotion toward a god. The goal of this life of prayer and devotion and denying the needs and wants of the flesh is to achieve enlightenment. Hindus believe that people are reincarnated life after life, and that each life gives us the opportunity to learn and to come back as someone which deeper understanding. Finally, the person who has come to full enlightenment achieves moksha, and they become pure spirit, leaving behind the cycle of reincarnation. When Narada, the heavenly messenger, saw this old sannyasin, he said to him, “I’m going to meet God. Is there any message you would like me to give?” The old sannyasin replied, “When you meet Him please ask Him how much longer I shall have to wait? I have been a sannyasin the last three births. How many more lifetimes must I endure until I reach moksha, the final enlightenment?” Narada said he would surely give the message.

 Then he went a little further and found another sannyasin sitting under a tree.

He was young and lost to this world as he sat playing his one-stringed instrument. Narada asked him jokingly, “Well, brother, have you any message for Him? I’m on my way to Vishnu’s house.” The young man kept singing, his eyes closed. Narada shook him by the shoulder and asked again. The young sanyassin answered, “No, brother, I have nothing to ask. Vishnu’s grace is boundless; whatever my wants He has already provided. Don’t trouble Him on my account. You needn’t even mention my name because I have everything I could wish for and more. If possible just convey my gratitude to Him.”

 

So Narada went on to visit Vishnu, carrying the messages from the two sannyassins. When Narada returned and met the old sannyasin, he told him, “Forgive me, brother, but Vishnu said, ‘As many leaves as there are on this tree, so many births will this man have before attaining moksha.’ The old sannyasin was filled with rage. He tore the book he was reading, threw away his prayer beads, and shouted in anger, “What injustice! For three births I have done penances, tortured myself, and still so many births to go! It cannot be!” There was nothing Narada could do to help the old man in his rage, so he went on his way.

Narada then approached the young man under the second tree. “You didn’t request it, but I asked God on your behalf how long it will be before you attain moksha, and He said, ‘As many leaves as there are on the tree where he sits, so many births must he take before attaining enlightenment.’” The young man jumped up with his instrument and began dancing with glee. “So soon? How high has He rated my worth! Look at the ground! There are so many leaves. Look at the other trees covered by leaves, but He has counted only the leaves of this tree for me. Only so many births? How wonderful! I am not worthy of it. How will I bear His grace? And how will I express my gratitude to Him?” He was mad with joy and danced round and round the tree, and danced around Narada. He could not contain his joy. The story goes that thus dancing, he attained moksha. His body fell away. What was to have happened after infinite years happened immediately. For him who has such patience, attainment does not take a moment longer to come.

  

Activity

There are many ways that people express devotion with their bodies. The Sufis are sometimes called Whirling Dervishes because they pray by spinning around and around in circles. You can try this, or try combining the spinning and the song we sang earlier, “Alhamdullilah” into a dance. Spin three times to the right during the first three “Alhamdullilahs.” Finish the third spin by bowing with your hands on your knees.  For the last three “Alhamdullilahs,” spin back to the left, but finish by raising your hands to the sky before bowing as before.

 

Activity

Not only the Sufi version of Islam, but the Muslim religion as a whole centers on making life an ongoing expression of devotion to God. Muslims are expected to pray five times a day, and the prayers combine both words and physical movements that express devotion to Allah (God). Being physically clean is seen as an expression of being spiritually clean, so before Muslims pray they perform a ritual of washing, called wudu. In order to stay clean as they go through the different postures of prayers, Muslims most often use a prayer rug. We don’t have time or the skills to weave one of the elaborate and beautiful rugs that are traditional, but we’ll create our own rugs by drawing on paper large enough to stand, kneel and bow on. (Give each child a piece of poster board or a sheet of butcher/roll paper about 2’ by 4’. Have them draw a design on the paper with markers (they may wish to rough out their ideas in pencil first. You can see and display what prayer rugs look like by doing a Google image search on “prayer rugs” When the rugs are complete, have the children remove their shoes. If you have time and are able to use a bathroom that you don’t mind getting wet, or if you can do the ritual outside, you may wish to go through the ritual of wudu. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpHcw9uvU6E for video of how this is done, or see below for instructions.)Have children stand on their prayer rugs, and talk them through the positions and prayers, which are described below, and which can be found with pictures at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/galleries/salah/ .

  

Discussion

Would you say that you ever feel something like devotion? When, and to what? If you were going to choose a body position, or series of positions, to express a prayer of devotion, what would it be?

 

Closing

Close with these words from the Sufi poet Rumi, “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”


 Week Four—January 27th  

UU Prayers and Hajom Kissor Singh

 

Supplies Needed: Template for revising Lord’s Prayer (see below), pencils, Fimo, Sculpey or other clay that bakes hard, toothpick or wooden skewer for making holes, elastic thread or silk cord


 Opening Words and Chalice Lighting

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.

 

Or

 In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

 

 

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:

Have participants sit comfortably on the floor. Invite them into meditation/prayer, saying: “Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Take another deep breath and let your body and mind become still. Cup your hands together in front of you or on your lap, so that they form a bowl. Imagine that your heart is filling that bowl with love and caring. The bowl of your hands fills and fills with love and compassion and peace, until it spills over, and still the bowl of your hands continues to fill with an endless stream of love and compassion and peace. But your heart, which is pouring the stream of love and peace into your hands, is never empty, because a river of love is flowing into your heart. It flows in from your family, from your friends, from the Source of Love which holds the universe. The love flows into your heart and out through your hands spilling back onto the people around you and into the world. When you can feel the bowl of your hands full of love and peace, finish this prayer by raising your hands to splash that love and peace over the people around you and out into the world.

 

Introduction

We’ve been talking this month about how a lot of people—Jews and Hindus and Muslims and Sufis—pray. But how do Unitarian Universalists pray? The answer, of course, is that different Unitarian Universalists pray in different ways. Many UUs pray, in words or pictures or silence, for their hopes and dreams, wanting to move toward being every kinder, stronger, happier people. Many UUs, in words or movement or singing, offer prayers of thanks. Many UUs, drumming or dancing or sitting very still, offer prayers of love and devotion, connecting the love inside them to the larger sense of love that holds them. Some UUs learned to pray in one way, but have decided that the way that they were taught as children doesn’t makes sense any more. Sometimes these UUs don’t pray at all, but many others have recreated prayers that are meaningful according to what they believe now. That’s what a man named Hajom Kissor Singh did nearly 100 years ago.

 

Story

Hajom Kissor Singh was born, and lived his whole life, in the beautiful Khasi hills in the northern part of the country of India. The Khasi tribe had their own religion, neither Christian nor Hindu. But when the English took control of India in 1858 they sent missionaries to the Khasi people to teach them to be Christians. So when Singh was born in 1865 he was raised with a combination of the traditional Khasi religion and Christianity. He didn’t believe in the many demons and animal sacrifices of the Khasi religion. But he also had questions about Christianity. Missionaries taught him about the trinity – that there is one God with three parts: God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. . But he was sent to a Christian school he read the Bible, and he didn’t find anything there about that mysterious trinity, with three parts in one. Singh loved the teachings of Jesus, about caring for your neighbor and loving God, but he thought that there was just one God—no three parts and no demons. He decided that he would start a Religion of One God.

 

One day someone suggested that the religion which Singh was creating sounded very much like a religion that already existed, and that he should write to the Rev. Charles Dall, a Unitarian minister working in Calcutta, in a different part of India. Rev. Dall was very happy to hear from this bright young man who lived in a remote part of India, and who seemed to have come up with a version of Unitarianism all on his own. Dall sent Singh lots of information about Unitarianism, and the two wrote letters back and forth until the older man’s death. Singh decided that since his Religion of One God was so much the same as Unitarianism, that he really belonged to the Unitarians, and so he devoted his life to developing Unitarian churches in the Khasi Hills of India.

 

Singh created a hymnbook for the Khasi Unitarian churches to use, and in the front he put his own version of the Lord’s Prayer. Khasi Untarians, like many Christians, say this prayer at the beginning of every worship service. The Lord’s Prayer is part of the Christian Bible, and is the way Jesus taught his followers to pray. The version used in most Protestant Christian churches goes:

Our Father, which art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done,

in earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive them that trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

[For thine is the kingdom,

the power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.

Amen. (Note: This last part is not in the original prayer of Jesus – it was added in later.]

 

Singh’s version goes like this (Note: you may not wish to read the whole thing—just enough to convey the very different language.):


Ko Kpa jong ngi Uba ha bneng,
Long bakhuid ka kyrteng jong Phi
Wan ka hima jong Phi.
Long ka mon jong Phi,
hangne ha ngi kumba ha bneng.
Ai ia ngi mynta ka jingbam kaba ha la ka sngi.
To map ia ngi, ia ki ryngkang jong ngi.
Pynlong ruh ia ngi kiba map ia kiba leh sniew ia ngi.
Pynlait ia ngi na ki jingpynshoi ka pop.
Bad sumar ruh ia ngi na kaba sniew.
Naba ka jong PHI long ka hima, bad ka bor,
bad ka burom ruh, mynta bad junom la junom, Amen.
 

When you translate the Khasi language, Singh’s version sounds a lot more like the original, but not quite the same:
Hello, Father of ours in heaven!
May your name be holy.
May your kingdom come.
May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily food.
Please forgive us and the wrongs we have done.
Make us forgive the wrongs others have done to us.
Free us from the temptations of sin.
For yours is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory too, now and forever. Amen.

 

The line in the original asking that God not lead us into temptation was something that made no sense to Singh. Why would God want to lead us toward do bad things? So he took that line out. Like Unitarians before and after him, and from many places all around the world, he made sure that the words he said were actually what he believed in his mind and his heart, not just what someone else had taught him. 

 

Activity (Optional – better for older children than for younger)

Use the template at http://www.questformeaning.org/oldsite/clf.uua.org/betweensundays/middlechildhood/LordsPrayer.html  to encourage children to write their own version of the Lord’s Prayer. Work through the prayer line by line, explaining what unfamiliar language (like “hallowed be thy name” might mean). Encourage kids to really thing about what they believe. For in stance, do they think of God as a father? Why male rather than female? Do they believe in God at all? If not, to what might they pray?

 

Activity

(from uu&me!)

Some Unitarian Universalist kids believe there's a God in heaven deciding how we live and when we will die. Other UU kids think God is the force of life and nature. Still others don't believe in any kind of God at all. With all these different ideas about God, what would prayer (a kind of talking to God) be like for UU kids? 

The Reverend Christopher Gist Raible, like all UU ministers, thinks that kids need to decide for themselves what their beliefs are about God, but he also thinks we can all benefit from prayer. Kids can use prayer to think about how their lives are going and to make plans for how to become the best people they can. 

Reverend Raible said that when kids pray they might think about what they feel thankfu1 for, what they feel sorry for, and what they are hopeful about. 

Virginia Steel, a UU Director of Religious Education added one more thing to the list of things Reverend Raible thinks kids can pray about: She thinks kids can also pray about what they want to improve in their lives. She used the word THIS to remember the four things we could pray about: being Thankful, being Hopeful, wanting to Improve, and being Sorry. 

In some religions, people use a string of beads to help them count how many times they have said certain prayers. Catholics call these beads "rosary beads." 

When Muslirns use beads to help them pray, they call it "tasbih."

 

We are going to make beads to help us remember THIS 

Use red, a happy color, for the thankful bead, because we are Thankful for things that make us feel happy and loved. 

Use yellow, a bright color, for the Hopeful bead, because things look bright and sunny when we're Hopeful. 

Use green, the color of growing things, for the improve bead, because when we Improve, we grow. 

Use blue, the color that people use to describe a sad mood, for the Sorry bead because we are sad or blue when we're Sorry. 

You can also use clay in other colors to decorate beads with stripes, dots, stars, or whatever. Poke a small hole down the middle of each bead with a thin wooden skewer so you can put string through the beads. These hand-made bracelets will help you to remember some of the good things you can pray about. 

Bake the beads according to the directions, put silk cord through them, and tie them around your wrist for prayer bracelets. 

 

Discussion


Are there any ways that you regularly pray, either with your family or by yourself? (Some examples might be grace before meals, prayers at bedtime, times when the family says “thank yous” and “I’m sorries,” ritual prayers such as those over Chanukah candles, private meditation or journaling, etc)

 

Closing

Ask each participant to offer a very brief prayer, either based on the Lord’s Prayer activity or simply a sentence that comes from their own understanding of prayer.