CliF Notes

A curriculum for families and small groups

 

May 2018

 

Week One – May 6th

Introduction – “What do we owe to other people?”

 

Supplies Needed:  Question bowl, two versions of “The Giving Tree” story (see below), ingredients based on the recipe you choose below. Make sure you have mixing bowls and, if making apple crisp, a 9x13 baking pan. You will also need plates and forks.

 

Opening Words and Chalice Lighting:

 

We light this flame for the light of truth, the energy of action and the warmth of love.

or

We light this flame to guide our search for truth, and to remind us to look on the world with bright eyes, and to meet the world with warm hearts.

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:

Hold hands around the circle. Ask everyone to close their eyes, and breath slowly, trying to match their breath to the breath of those around them. Then explain that as a group you are going to count to ten—but with only one person saying each number. Each person will be responsible for choosing if or when they will say the next number. If two people speak at the same time you will start over again from one. The goal is to progress from one to ten with each person having a chance to speak, and with no two people talking over the top of each other – and without any discussion or planning about who will say what when.

 

Introduction

Last month our theological question had to do with the relationship between people and nature. Our question this month is about the relationship between people and other people. It is the question “What do I owe to other people?” All of us have to choose moment by moment how we will relate to other people – both those close to us like our friends and family and those far away from us who are still part of our larger human family. We have to decide what to share and what to keep for ourselves, when to do what we feel like doing and when to do what will make someone else happy.

 

What questions come for mind to you when you think about the question “What do I owe to other people?” We’re going to pass around our question bowl, and as it comes to you please share with us any questions that come to mind for you. (Some sample questions might be: Is it OK to try to get everything you want? Who do we have to care about? Since it isn’t possible to do everything to make everybody happy, how do we choose?)

 

Activity

Normally we do our activity after our story, but this week’s activity needs time to bake, so we’re going to start it before we get into the story. But I’ll give you a hint. The story has to do with an apple tree, and the activity has to do with apples.

 

Make apple crisp:

 

7 tart apples
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown sugar

½ cup flour
1teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup rolled oats

½ cup chopped walnuts (if you’re sure no one is allergic—optional)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375°F. You may want to do this a the very beginning of the class to save time.

Cut apples, core them, and use a food processor with a slicing blade to cut them very thin. Older kids or adults can cut and core, supervised younger kids can operate the food processor.

 In a mixing bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, and vanilla. Toss to combine.

Layer sliced apples in a 9 x 12 inch baking pan.

Combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and oatmeal in a bowl. Cut in butter (using fingers to mash things together works best). Add walnuts if your using them and mix. Sprinkle mixture over apples.

Bake 45 minutes or until topping looks crunchy and apples are tender.

Note: If you don’t have time or cooking facilities for apple crisp, use the alternate activity, Waldorf salad, below.

 

Story

You may well have heard this story before – it’s by Shel Silverstein, and it’s called “The Giving Tree.” (Note: you can probably find “The Giving Tree” at your local library, or you might want to have participants perform the story as a play, using this script.)

 

The Nurturing Tree

By Dr. Jerry D. Wright
 
Once there was a boy who really enjoyed a tree. He enjoyed the roughness of its bark when he climbed it. He enjoyed the springiness of its branches when he swung on them. He enjoyed the crackle, the smell and the pillowy feeling of its leaves when he gathered them into a big pile and jumped into them, in the fall of the year. 
 He enjoyed the crunch and tart taste of its apples when he bit into its ripe fruit. And when the sun was hot, he enjoyed sitting in its shade, leaning against its sturdy trunk, thinking about all the things he hoped to do and have and be as he grew older.
 The tree enjoyed the boy, too. She enjoyed watching him grow stronger, able to do more things.  She enjoyed his company. She enjoyed being useful. But there came a long time when the boy stayed away.
 Then one day, he returned and said to the tree, “I need some money,” and the tree said, “Well, money doesn't grow on trees, but apples do, and you're welcome to gather my apples and sell them for money.” 
 The tree was delighted to have the boy climbing about, gathering the apples she'd grown. She enjoyed his company and she enjoyed feeling useful. But then the boy stayed away for a long time, again.
 One bright, sunny day the tree saw him coming toward her-older now-a young man-and she was very happy. She really enjoyed his company. She enjoyed that he was bigger and looked stronger than when she had seen him last. “I want a house,” he told the tree. “A house to live in and raise a family. Would you give me your wood?”
 
“I'll give you a few of my branches,” she said, “and you may ask my neighbors for some of theirs. If I gave you all of my branches, I'd have nothing to support my leaves. Without leaves to turn sunlight and water into food, I would die. But as long as you take only a few of my limbs, I can grow others; so, you're welcome to a few.” 
 The young man thanked the tree and chose a few of her branches to make into lumber for his house. He also asked her neighbors, who gave him a few branches here and there until he had enough. 
 Then he built his house and enjoyed it, and was gone for several years, again, until one day the tree recognized him coming toward her-a man in his middle years now, looking healthy and having good energy-and he said to the tree, “I've been thinking that I'd like to have a boat to sail on the lake, and I'd like to have your trunk to use for a hull.”
 The tree liked the man very much-had liked him since when he was a small boy, climbing her trunk and diving into piles of her leaves-but she liked herself, too, and she said, “I like you a lot. I've enjoyed you for years. But I have good reasons to say 'No' to your request. First, if I gave you my trunk, I would die, and while I like to give of myself and feel useful, I know better than to give myself away. Secondly, I've noticed that you only come around when you want something for yourself. Other than that, I never see you.” 
 “Still, that doesn't mean you can't have a boat; you don't have to have wood to make a boat. Fiberglass is a wonderful material for building a boat. Build yourself a boat of fiberglass. And come visit me from time to time.” 
 At first, the man wasn't happy about the tree's response. Always, before, she had given him at least some of what he had asked for. But then, she was right. He did only come see her when he wanted something, and fiberglass was a perfectly good material to use for building a boat.
The more he thought about it, he realized that at first, he and the tree had been giving each other something, but that as time had gone by, the tree had been doing almost all of the giving and he had been doing almost all of the taking. 
He decided to take his children to play in, on and around the tree. He also bought some seedlings and showed his children how to plant them, so that the seedlings would grow up to keep the tree company.
 Like all living things, the tree grew older and older and finally died, and the keepers of the forest cut her down, leaving only her stump. The man grew older, too, and returned to the tree one day, only to discover that nothing was left of her, but her stump.
 She could offer no shade to sit in-no sturdy trunk to lean against-only her stump to sit upon, so the old man sat. He thanked her for being there when he was a boy, allowing him to climb her sturdy trunk, bounce upon her springy branches, eat her crisp, tart apples, and pounce into piles of her fallen leaves. He thanked her for the shade she had provided, and for being there to lean upon when he just wanted a place to think thoughts and dream dreams. He thanked her, too, for the limbs she spared him for building his house. And then, as he thought some more, he thanked her, most of all, for setting limits and saying “No”-for only allowing him to have some of her limbs-not so many as would have damaged her-and for telling him “No” when he wanted her trunk, which would have killed her. He also thanked her for pointing out that he had fallen into a habit of thinking only of himself-coming around only when he wanted something from her. He thought a long time. 
 When it came time for the old man to go, he patted the stump and said, “Thanks for liking yourself as well as you liked me. I think that liking yourself enough to tell me “No” was the best gift you ever gave me.”

Discussion: How does this story answer the question “What do I owe to other people?”

Alternate Activity if didn’t make apple crisp:

Make Waldorf Salad:

  • 3 tart apples - peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup seedless grapes
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts (if no one is allergic)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons apple juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  1. In a large bowl, combine the apples and lemon juice. Add the grapes, walnuts and celery; toss.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, apple juice and celery seeds. Spoon over the apple mixture, and toss gently.

Activity/Discussion

Now that you’re made a delicious treat, the question is who is going to eat it? Decide as a group who gets to share in your treat. Just the people who helped make it? Others in your congregation or family? Friends? Might you want to give the whole thing away to, say, people in a homeless shelter who might need it more than you? What do you base your decision on?

Closing

Eat your treat (unless you give it all away). Sing “From You I Receive” (#402 in Singing the Living Tradition)

 From you I receive,

To you I give.

Together we share,

And from this we live.

 

See here for the tune.


Week Two – May 13th

Celebration – Mother’s Day

Note: Celebrating Mother’s Day is potentially awkward for children who don’t live with their mother, who have two dads or have some other family configuration that doesn’t include a mom in the house. Please be sensitive to these situations and adapt the material accordingly.

Supplies Needed: easel paper and easel, markers, tissue paper, green pipe cleaners, scissors, stapler, construction paper, hole punch, yarn

Opening Words and Chalice Lighting

Let us cultivate unending goodwill.

Let no one deceive another or despise any other being.

Let no one in anger or ill-will wish another harm.

Even as a mother watches over her child, so should one cherish all living beings, radiating friendliness over the whole world,

Above, below, and all around, without limit.

--Metta Sutta (Buddhist)

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 “Enter, Rejoice and Come In” (#361 in Singing the Living Tradition)

Enter, rejoice and come in,

Enter, rejoice and come in,

Today will be a joyful day,

Enter, rejoice and come in,

 

Introduction

Does anyone know how Mother’s Day started? Mother’s Day was actually invented by Unitarian Julia Ward Howe as a day to promote peace. Her idea was that mothers care about their children, and would never want anything terrible to happen to them. And so, she figured, mothers would be the best people to stand up and say that war and killing is wrong. After all, if a mother would never want something horrible to happen to her own children, she should also understand deep in her heart that no other mother’s child should be hurt either. So Julia proposed that mothers should come together to find a way to put pressure on the government to end the Franco-Prussian war, which was raging in the 1870s. Julia, herself a mother of five children, was certainly a model of both compassion and strength. In addition to being a well-known writer and advocate for peace she worked to bring an end to slavery and a beginning to women’s right to vote.

 

Discussion

It’s easy to imagine that Julia Ward Howe’s children learned a lot of things from her about how to treat other people. What things have your parents (or guardian(s)) taught you about how to treat other people? (Write responses up on easel paper. If kids have a hard time coming up with ideas you may wish to prompt by asking things like: “Is there anything your parents tell you when you’re having a fight with a friend?” “Is there anything your parents tell you when you and someone else both want the same thing?” “Is there anything your parents tell you when you’re mad?”)

 

Activity

One of the ways that many people like to honor their moms on Mother’s Day is to give them flowers or cards. We’re going to do both, and we’re going to make both.

 

Follow instructions at http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Tissue-Paper-Flowers for making paper flowers. If there is time, children may wish to make several.

 

We want to give these flowers as presents, but we’re going to make them more special by putting a card with each flower that honors something we’ve learned from the person we’re giving the flower to. You may want to give one or more flowers to your mom, or you may wish to give your flowers to other people who have taught you something important about how to treat other people. Looking at the ideas we wrote down earlier, think of the person you want to give a flower to, and try completing the sentence “Thank you for teaching me….” When you’ve decided what you want to write on your card, go ahead and cut a piece of construction paper and write your sentence on it, along with whatever decoration you might want to add. (For younger children, an adult may need to write out the card.)

When each card is finished, punch a hole in the corner and use a piece of yarn to attach it to the flower.

 

Closing

Have each person share what they have written on their card(s).


Week Three—May 20th  

What do I owe other people? – Joseph Tuckerman

 

Supplies Needed:

 

Opening Words and Chalice Lighting:

 

We light this flame for the light of truth, the energy of action and the warmth of love.

or

We light this flame to guide our search for truth, and to remind us to look on the world with bright eyes, and to meet the world with warm hearts.

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:

Sing “Listen, Listen, Listen.”

 

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song,

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song,

I will never forget you, I will never forsake you,

I will never forget you, I will never forsake you.

 

Introduction:

There are a whole lot of people from our Unitarian Universalist history who could serve as examples of people who answered the question “What do I owe other people?” with lives dedicated to helping others. One of those people is Joseph Tuckerman, who is sometimes known as the father of American social work.

 

Joseph was born in 1778. Anyone have any ideas about what might have been happening in Massachusetts in 1778? Joseph’s father Edward was good friends with John Hancock, the famous signer of the Declaration of Independence. Joseph had as normal a childhood as was possible in the midst of a revolutionary war, and he grew up and went off to college at Harvard to study to become a Unitarian minister. As it turns out, his roommate was the brilliant William Ellery Channing, who became one of the most important leaders in defining Unitarianism. Joseph, however, was not the outstanding student that his friend was, and according to Channing, Joseph “had no serious view of life. Three years he passed as a holiday.” Nonetheless, Joseph managed to graduate, and to get a job as a minister in a small town outside of Boston.

Joseph Tuckerman served as the minister of that church in Chelsea for twenty-five years. None of his sermons have survived for us to look at today, but he certainly didn’t have a reputation for being an incredible preacher. He did, however, really care about the people of his parish – not just the folks who came to church, but all the people of the town. In particular he reached out to the sailors and their families who stayed in Chelsea between voyages.

Eventually, after twenty-five years of delivering two sermons every Sunday, Joseph’s throat gave out, and he left parish ministry. But Joseph’s minister friends had another idea of the work he could do. The new American Unitarian Association hired him to be a kind of minister-at-large to the people of Boston, ministering to the poor.

And there were plenty of poor people in Boston. People were arriving in droves from the countryside and from overseas, looking for a better life as a worker in the rapidly growing number of factories in Boston. Unlike many people of his day, Joseph Tuckerman didn’t think that poor people were poor because of some moral failing. He believed that every person was created in the image of God, and that it was the job of more privileged people to help out those who had less. He believed that every person could improve themselves, and that love for others was the most important expression of religion.

The problem was, even those folks who believed that poor people could be as good as wealthier people and that it was important to help out people who were suffering, didn’t really know what to do about the problem. How do you help people to improve their lives? What will help people to be successful in the long run, so that they’re not dependent on charity forever? Joseph didn’t really know more about the answers to these questions than anyone else. But he decided to start with something that hadn’t really occurred to other charity workers. He figured that the place to start was to go out and talk with people who were struggling, to get to know them and to learn first-hand about their gifts and their needs.

So Joseph went out in the streets and down to the docks. He sat down and talked with people in their homes, returning again and again to build relationships. He invited people who had almost no access to education to bring their children to his Sunday school, and to come to his Sunday evening lectures. He helped people to get some of the things they most needed, like wood for heating and cooking, or clothes, and he listened to their stories.

Eventually Joseph realized that the various programs of various Boston churches were very inefficient, sometimes doubling up efforts without realizing it, and sometimes missing needs entirely. And so in 1843 he founded the Benevolent Fraternity to coordinate the social service outreach of all the area Unitarian churches. By the end of the 1800s, the “Ben Frat’s” programs included five chapels, each with its own minister, and many other missions, schools, summer camps and opportunities for job training.

Now called the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry, the organization Joseph Tuckerman founded continues to coordinate efforts of UU churches to reach out to the poor of Boston, continuing to live out his conviction that dedicated ministry can provide education and skills that will help people to overcome poverty. Like the organization that Joseph founded, the UU Urban Ministry is still empowering Boston’s most underprivileged citizens through education, direct service, and advocacy rather than through charity alone.

Activity:

One of the answers to the question “What do I owe to other people?” is “We owe one another our attention and willingness to listen.” Joseph Tuckerman started his ministry to the poor of Boston simply by taking the time to get to know people and hear their stories. It turns out that even with people we think we know well, we often have never taken very much time to listen and learn.

 

We’re going to try that practice of deep listening and learning about one another by doing interviews. One person at a time will be interviewed, with all of us taking turns asking questions. If anyone doesn’t want to answer a question that is asked, they have the right to just say that they’d rather not answer. And if anyone doesn’t want to be interviewed at all, that’s OK, too. It’s everyone’s job as an interviewer to come up with questions that are respectful, and will help us really learn about the person being interviewed. Some questions you might want to ask could include: What makes you happiest? What are you scared of? What are you most proud of? If you could go back and change something you’ve done, what would it be? What’s one thing that other people think is true about you that isn’t true? What are you good at? If you could make one rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what would it be? These questions, of course, are just some ideas to get you thinking—you’re welcome to come up with your own. But anyone who asks a question that seems designed to embarrass the person being interviewed will lose their turn. (Note: the facilitator will need to determine how much time is available per person, and make sure that an equal amount of time is left for each person to be interviewed.)

 

Closing

Sing “Listen, Listen, Listen” again.

 

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song,

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song,

I will never forget you, I will never forsake you,

I will never forget you, I will never forsake you.

 

Note: if you are making stone soup for next week and are in a congregational setting, you will need to ask kids and/or grownups to bring soup items on May 25


Week Four—May 27th

“What do we owe each other?” – Stone Soup

 

Supplies Needed: Pot, cook top, stone, any soup essentials you are afraid won’t appear, bowls, spoons, bread, cider.

 

Opening Words and Chalice Lighting:

 

We light this flame for the light of truth, the energy of action and the warmth of love.

or

We light this flame to guide our search for truth, and to remind us to look on the world with bright eyes, and to meet the world with warm hearts.

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:

Hold hands around the circle. Ask everyone to close their eyes, and breath slowly, trying to match their breath to the breath of those around them. Then explain that as a group you are going to count to ten—but with only one person saying each number. Each person will be responsible for choosing if or when they will say the next number. If two people speak at the same time you will start over again from one. The goal is to progress from one to ten with each person having a chance to speak, and with no two people talking over the top of each other – and without any discussion or planning about who will say what when.

 

Introduction:  

We’ve been talking this month about how to answer the question “What do I owe to other people?” Each of us makes choices every day about how much we’re willing to do to help other people and how much we’re willing to share. But sometime we need to make those choices not just as and for individual people, but as and for communities. Sometimes your family or your congregation or your school or your neighborhood has to make a choice about what will be best for the whole group as well as what will be best for each person. And sometimes each person has to make a choice about what will be best for the whole group, not just for themselves or another single person. Our story this month deals with just such a situation. You may well have heard it before – it is the story of Stone Soup.

 

Story: (Note: if children have brought items to contribute to the stone soup, collect them as the items are mentioned in the story and place them in your pot. You can adapt the story on the fly to include whatever items you see are present. If you are using this lesson at home, and don’t have the option of different families providing ingredients, see below for suggestions of alternative activities.)

 

Stone Soup

Three soldiers trudged down a road in a strange country. They were on their way home from the wars. Besides being tired, they were hungry. In fact, they had eaten nothing for two days.

“How I would like a good dinner tonight,” said the first. “And a bed to sleep in,” added the second. “But that is impossible,” said the third.

On they marched, until suddenly, ahead of them, they saw the lights of a village. “Maybe we'll find a bite to eat and a bed to sleep in,” they thought.

Now the peasants of the place feared strangers. There had been years of fighting, and times were hard. When they heard that three soldiers were coming down the road, they talked among themselves. “Here come three soldiers,” they said. “Soldiers are always hungry. But we have so little for ourselves.” And they hurried to hide their food. They hid the barley in hay lofts, carrots under quilts, and buckets of milk down the wells. They hid all they had to eat. Then they waited.

The soldiers stopped at the first house. “Good evening to you,” they said. “Could you spare a bit of food for three hungry soldiers?” “We have no food for ourselves,” the residents lied. “It has been a poor harvest.”

The soldiers went to the next house. “Could you spare a bit of food?” they asked. “And do you have a corner where we could sleep for the night?” “Oh, no,” the man said. “We gave all we could spare to the soldiers who came before you.” “And our beds are full,” lied the woman.

At each house, the response was the same -- no one had food or a place for the soldiers to stay. The peasants had very good reasons, like feeding the sick and children. The villagers stood in the street and sighed. They looked as hungry as they could.

The soldiers talked together. The first soldier called out, “Good people! We are three hungry soldiers in a strange land. We have asked you for food and you have no food. Well, we will just have to make stone soup.” The peasants stared.

The soldiers asked for a big iron pot, water to fill it, and a fire to heat it. Well, the villagers knew the pot wasn’t going anywhere, and there was no lack of water in the stream. Besides, now they were curious. What could these men be up to? When the water started to boil, one of the soldiers reached into his knapsack, drew out a smooth, round, stone, and dropped it in the water.

“Ah,” he said, “soon we shall have some excellent soup!”

“Yes,” said the second soldier, “But it is a pity that we don’t have any salt or pepper. Any soup improves with salt and pepper.” The children, who had gathered around to see, glanced at their parents. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to give away a little salt and pepper—how much could these men use, anyway? A single nod from a parent sent one of the children scurrying off  to fetch salt and pepper.

“Stones make good soup, but carrots would make it so much better,” the second soldier added. One woman said, “Why, I think I have a carrot or two!” She ran to get the carrots.

“Stone soup is really best with some cabbage, but no use asking for what we don't have!” said the third soldier. Another woman said, “I think I can probably find some cabbage,” and off she scurried.

“If only we had a bit of beef and some potatoes, this soup would be fit for a rich man's table.” The peasants thought it over, then ran to fetch what they had hidden in their cellars. A rich man's soup, and all from a few stones! It seemed like magic!

The soldiers said, “If only we had a bit of barley and some milk, this soup would be fit for a king!” And so the peasants managed to retrieve some barley and milk.

“The soup is ready,” said the cooks, “and all will taste it, but first we need to set the tables.” Tables and torches were set up in the square, and all sat down to eat. Some of the peasants said, “Such a great soup would be better with bread and cider,” so they brought forth the last two items and the banquet was enjoyed by all. Never had there been such a feast. Never had the peasants tasted such delicious soup, and all made from stones! They ate and drank and danced well into the night.

The soldiers asked again if there was a loft where they might sleep for the night. “Oh, no!” said the townfolk. “You wise men must have the best beds in the village!” So one soldier spent the night in the priest's house, one in the baker's house, and one in the mayor's house.

In the morning, the villagers gathered to say goodbye. “Many thanks to you,” the people said, “for we shall never go hungry now that you have taught us how to make soup from stones!”

by Marcia Brown – 1947 – adapted

 

Discussion:

What do you think kept the townfolk from sharing with the soldiers? Why do you think they decided to share in the end? Do you think the townspeople will be more likely to share with each other after the soldiers leave? Can you think of any situation you’ve been in where people have shared their resources or talents to come up with something better than any one person could have done on their own?

 

Activity:

Make stone soup out of soup items participants have brought to contribute. If you are doing this lesson in a congregation you may wish to include adults in the request for soup items, and tell the story during the beginning of a service. Then share the soup with everyone afterward. If you are doing this lesson at home you can go on a hunt through your refrigerator and/or cupboards for things that can go into soup. Or, if you’re brave, you can go door to door to your neighbors and ask for contributions to the soup, inviting the neighbors to share in eating the soup afterwards. Or, you could ask every member of the household to search through their belongings for items that they are willing to part with. Then have a garage sale and donate the proceeds to charity. Or, if a garage sale is too time and labor intensive, just donate the items to a not-for-profit that runs a thrift store, so that your items will profit them in the long run.

 

While the soup is cooking, ask children to write in their journals their answer to the question “What do I owe to other people?” You can encourage them to expand on their answers by answering “What do I owe to my family?” “What do I owe to my friends?” “What do I owe to people I’ve never met?” “What do I owe to my nation?”

 

Closing

Eat soup, preferably with bread and cider. You may wish to finish by singing “From You I Receive” (see week one).