Hello Dear South Church families and friends!
I hope you had wonderful Thanksgiving gatherings, and are moving into December with full hearts. We will be exploring the ways that we are a community of presence this month (you can read a bit more on that below), so as the busy hustle of the holiday season continues to build, remember to stop and take time to appreciate the gifts around us; children humming songs as they play, smells of good food wafting from the oven, dress shoes clicking across the floor, even the way that early darkness causes us to slow a bit, to settle. I send you wishes for peace and so much love.
In this month’s nUUs you can read about:
- Holiday Potluck this Friday! (no other social-groups or Families Tuugether this month)
- Kids are the storytellers this Sunday- 12/4! (Come a bit early to participate.)
- Theme talk: Sunday, December 4th at 8:00 am or 12:30 pm (read more below) Discussion: Anticipating January’s theme- being a community of ‘Prophecy’
- Children’s chapel Sunday, December 4th
- Pageant Sunday- December 18th
- Christmas Eve and Christmas day info
- First Night Chili sale!! 12/31 from 5-9pm
- Family resources for December’s theme: A people of Presence
- (Including December 11th Workshop info)
Holiday potluck Friday, December 2, 6pm-8pm- It’s that time again! Join us on Friday as we celebrate the season and share family traditions through food. Make a dish that relates to a holiday tradition in your family, bring it along and plan to have some fun conversation, make an ornament or some pageant props, eat, drink and be merry! We will once again coerce Rev. Chris into leading some carols, and reluctant participants are as crucial as the enthusiastic ones! Come one, come all~ We always have a lovely time, and hope to see many of you there!
Storytellers NEEDED! In November, we ran a storytelling workshop that involved creating a script from a children’s book, identifying roles, making props, and… THIS WEEK (12/4), we will be performing the story during worship at both service times! Whether or not your child participated in the workshop, they are welcome to come a bit early this week and take on a role in the story for all ages! If you attend the 9 am service, try to arrive by 8:30. If you are an 11:00 service family, try to get here by 10:30am. It is easy and so much fun! We hope your kids join in!
Monthly Theme talk- December 4th 8:00 am or 12:30pm- this is a monthly offering intended to provide a much needed opportunity for parents, RE teachers, and other adults (and youth) in our congregation to dig a bit more deeply into the upcoming monthly worship theme in a small group discussion. These talks will hopefully help us to better find connections between church and our lives throughout the week. For parents and RE volunteers, it may also provide some ideas for how to talk with our children about Unitarian Universalism and the exploration of ideas in the context of a spiritual community. Whomever you are, I hope you will come join us and see what it’s all about! On December 4th we’ll be talking about January’s theme: what it means to be “A community of Prophecy”
Children’s Chapel On the first Sunday of each month RE children from first grade through 7th grade gather together for Children’s Chapel. This is our first opportunity of the month to explore the worship theme, and to practice worship in a kid friendly setting. This month we’ll be diving into the topic of ‘Story’. Parents: we participate in a shared plate donation during this gathering, so it’s great if you can send along .50cents or a dollar for your child to contribute.
Pageant Sunday- December 18th- As is our tradition, we will again be having a pick-up pageant on Sunday, December 18th. All you need to do is show up and anyone who wants to be a part of the pageant will have a chance to join in! Our Children’s Choir will also be performing during the 9am worship service!!
Christmas Eve and Christmas day info- Christmas eve services are again being offered at three times: 5pm, 7pm, and 9pm. The early times are HEAVILY attended, and there are lots of kids, so arrive early if you want to find a seat! The 9pm service is also welcome to all ages, but tends to be a quieter gathering for those of you looking for that. On Christmas day we are offering one worship service at 10am, however there will be no RE programming on Christmas day and the Nursery will be closed, please plan accordingly and have a wonderful holiday no matter where you are!
First Night Chili sale!! 12/31 from 5-9pm- This is a fundraiser for our Youth Group, but everyone is welcome to compete in the chili cook off! (or just to donate a crock pot of chili for the sale). If you aren’t a chili chef, come buy a bowl during first night to show your support!
Family resources for December: ‘We are a community of presence’– one of the wonderful things about theme based church is that there are multiple opportunities for parents and children to explore a specific idea throughout each month. There are lots of opportunities for ideas and inspirations we come across on Sundays at South Church to find their way into our lives throughout the week, and for our weeks to give us inspiration we can return to our community on Sundays!
This month, as we explore the idea of presence, think about ways you might take those conversations home to your dinner tables, night time rituals, car drives, and morning routines.
Presence- In our theme talk about presence, we spoke of the idea of presence in the sense of mindfulness– being present, and also about the more transcendent idea of presence, as in the presence of God, mystery, or love– something more spiritual and far reaching. Certainly, it is interesting to think about how these two distinct descriptions feed one another- finding moments of peace within ourselves can be a doorway to feeling a connection to something larger than ourselves, and conversely, having that sense of universal presence can remind us to be reflective, to take time for what matters most.
In RE this month we will be exploring presence both in the sense of mindfulness and also
in how we intentionally connect with the larger world. During Children’s Chapel, we will be talking about how presence can help alleviate anxiety and worry- whether we are worried about global issues or personal things in our lives. We will look at a month long calendar that challenges us to perform random acts of kindness all month (see image), and we’ll talk about how we think it might affect our individual lives. December 11th workshops will include “Presents”- creating gift baskets of fair trade items with a reflection on how we can be intentional and aware of our larger world even in how we navigate material gifts. The other workshop, “Grace” will allow our kids to help prepare a meal to be donated to Crossroads house (a shelter for temporarily homeless families) and also to create a table blessing to send along with the food.
In our families, there are endless ways to explore this months theme. I encourage you to pick up the random acts of kindness challenge! Here are a bunch of other ideas, too:
- Try sharing Joys and Concerns at the dinner table this month. We do this often in RE classes- you can click on the link if you’re not familiar!
- There are some great children’s books about presence (you can find many of them at the library!
- Eat an Apple Mindfully- Have each child follow the steps in No Ordinary Apple and experience their own extraordinary apple.
- Here’s a Pinterest page with LOTS of great ideas for families to explore the theme of Presence.
- For Parents, here’s a podcast I particularly enjoyed: The Gift of Presence, The Perils of Advice- Parker Palmer
As you explore presence this month, I hope that you will share your knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm with me and with our congregation! There is a bulletin board in the social hall where you can post reflections, our South Church facebook group is a great place to share, and I love receiving emails, too! Sending deep love to your families!
“When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there? The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Programs happening this year in RE (For parents and volunteers looking for the perfect volunteer role!):
Spirit Play: Our Pre-Kinder (4 year olds) and Kindergarten classroom uses Spirit Play, a montessori approach to religious education that invites children to explore life’s big questions through stories, “wonderings,” “work” (activities) and songs. Later in the fall and throughout the year 3 year olds are welcome to move up into the classroom as well. Interested in being a spirit play teacher? we will be offering a training for this classroom in late September! We’d love to have you join us!
Theme based Workshops: Students in 1st-7th grade* will be engaged in a workshop styled program beginning this fall. The monthly workshops will be created by congregants in connection with the month’s worship theme, so specific offerings will change throughout the year. Often, the groups will be open to a range of ages, and as we begin to experiment more details about the exact structure will become clear, so stay tuned! Volunteer as a workshop presenter (short term commitment – a single month), or sign on as a small group leader (1-2 times/month for the year) We’d love to have you join us!
OWL- Our Whole Lives- Comprehensive Sexuality Education– This year we are offering programs for 5th grade (an 8 week program) and 7th grade (a year long program). OWL is a nationally acclaimed program and it is an invaluable experience for our children/youth. You can read more about it here: uua.org/re/owl OWL instructors are needed on an ongoing basis (the program runs annually) and We will pay for your training! Please reach out if you are interested.
A community of…