Rituals and prayer that might be useful to you:
These are words you can say just before starting your meal.
Blessed are you, Holy One, Creator of the Universe,
who brings forth bread from the earth.
–based on an ancient Jewish prayer
II. Silly grace
Thanks for the grub,
— from Liberal Religious Youth
Cherished family, friends, and guests,
Let this food to us be blessed.
Bless those people who made this food.
May it feed our work for good.
— adapted from German Lutheran grace by Craig Schwalenberg
God is great, God is good,
Let us thank (her) (him) for our food.
–from Emma Mitchell’s family (children get to choose whether to say “her” or “him”)
V. Sharing grace
Hold hands around the table.
Ask everyone at the table to say one thing he or she is thankful for that day.
VI. Silent grace
Hold hands around the table.
Say: “Let us have a moment of silence to give thanks for the food we eat.”
15 – 20 seconds of silence is about right.
Affirmations of faith
The principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association are included here for the reference of adults and teenagers (in my experience, younger children have not found these to be particularly meaningful or comprehensible). I’ve also included some other affirmations of faith used by Unitarian Universalists.
We Are… (an affirmation for younger people)
We are Unitarian Universalists:
(make two U’s with hands)
With minds that think,
(touch head with both hands)Hearts that love,
(put both hands on heart)
And hands that are ready to serve!
(hold out hands, palms up)
Affirmation of First Unitarian in New Bedford
May faith in the spirit of life
And hope in the community of earth
And love of the sacred in ourselves and others
Be ours this day and in all the days to come.
Sung affirmation (First Unitarian doxology)
From all that dwell below the skies
Let songs of hope and faith arise;
Let peace, good will, on earth be sung
Through every land by every tongue.
— adapted from words by Isaac Watts
sung to the tune “Old Hundredth”
Affirmation based on First Unitarian’s “Application for Membership”
I will strive toward high ethical and moral standards in my personal life and in the community.
I will work for the understanding and promotion of a religion of love, assuming a spirit of cooperation and tolerance towards other religious groups.
I will commit myself to keep formulating my own religious beliefs according to my individual needs, my conscience, and my degree of maturity.
Principles from the Bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:
The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations; A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:
· Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love;
· Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
· Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Prayers for individuals and families, for all ages.
I am only one.
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything.
But still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something
that I can do.
— Rev. Edward E. Hale
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
— Emily Dickinson
Cloak yourself in a thousand ways, and still I shall know you, my Beloved.
Veil yourself with every enchantment, and yet I shall feel your Presence, most dear, close and intimate.
I shall salute you in the springing of cypresses, and in the sheen of lakes the laughter of fountains.I shall surely see you in tumbling clouds, in brightly embroidered meadows.
O beloved Presence, more beautiful than all the stars together,
I find your face in ivy that climbs, in clusters of grapes, in morning sun on the mountains, in the clear arch of the sky.
You gladden the whole earth and make every heart great.
You are the breathing of the world.
— adapted from Mohammad Hafiz, “Shams Ud-Dun”
IV. A Hindu prayer
Lead us from death to life, from lies to truth.
Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe.
Peace. Peace. Peace.
— adapted from the Upanishads
God of love,
your name is goodness and holiness.
May your love be present in all the nations of earth,
just as I feel your love in my heart.
Grant us the food we need today,
grant all people the food they need today.
Forgive me when I fail, and
help me forgive those who fail me.
May I not be tempted by evil or wrong-doing —
may your love watch over me, and over us all.
— a traditional Jewish prayer, adapted by early Christian communities, and further adapted by Rev. Dan Harper
I will be truthful.
I will suffer no injustice.
I will be free from fear.
I will not use force.
I will be of good-will to all people.
— Mahatma Gandhi
Prayers for morning
I. Salutation of the Dawn
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the truth
And reality of your existence:
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty;
For yesterday is already a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today well-lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
— ancient Sanskrit source, in The Beacon Song and Service Book
Renew yourself completely each day.
Do it again, and again,
and forever again.
— Confucius, The Great Learning
Prayers for evening
I. A bedtime prayer
(for parents/guardians and children together)
— Tonight I am thankful for…
(say some of the good things that happened to
— And I am sorry for…
(talk about the things you feel sorry for doing
— Tomorrow I hope for…
(things you hope for and how you think you can
make them happen)
– idea from Rev. Christopher Raible
May the truth that sets us free,
And the hope that never dies,
And the love that casts out fear
Be with us now
Until the dayspring breaks,
And the shadows flee away.
— adapted from the Christian and Hebrew scriptures
Ten Good Things Rituals Do for Children
• Impart a sense of identity
• Provide comfort and security
• Help to navigate change
• Teach values
• Teach practical skills
• Solve problems
• Keep alive a sense of departed family members
• Pass on ethnic or religious heritage
• Help heal from loss or trauma
• Generate wonderful memories