Rituals for our Daily Lives

Thoughtful Moments

Thoughtful Moments

Rituals and prayer that might be useful to you:

Saying grace
These are words you can say just before starting your meal.

I.

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

Rub-a-dub-dub,
Thanks for the grub,
Yay, God!
— from Liberal Religious Youth

III.

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.
Amen.
— adapted from German Lutheran grace by Craig Schwalenberg

IV.

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.
General prayers

I.

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

II.

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

III.

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

V.

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

VI.

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

II.

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
you today)
— And I am sorry for…
(talk about the things you feel sorry for doing
or saying)
— Tomorrow I hope for…
(things you hope for and how you think you can
make them happen)
– idea from Rev. Christopher Raible

II.

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

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Parents: Small Group Ministry | Topic: Prayer and Rituals

Parents SGM
Topic: Prayer and Rituals

Chalice Lighting:
The light of the ages has brought wisdom and truth to all peoples, in all times of human history. We light this flame to remind us to seek wisdom in our own time.– Dan Harper

Opening Reading:

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you hang up my first painting on the refrigerator, and I wanted to paint another one.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I knew that little things are special things.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I believed there is a God I could always talk to.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I felt you kiss me goodnight, and I felt loved.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I LOOKED….and wanted to say thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.

Check-in:

Topic:
Ritual is not just for special occasions but also for every day, every meal, every bath, and every bedtime story. In ritual, little is big: Although dress-up holidays with lavish feasts are fun, it’s the everyday traditions that determine how we experience our families and demonstrate hands-on love to our children. Intuitively, we know this is good, and consciously pass down beloved traditions from our own childhoods. But the power of ritual and the need for it are far stronger than we realize.

What rituals do you incorporate into your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly lives with your children that impart values? Why do rituals and prayers? What values are important to you, which you would like to impart to your children? What rituals would you like to include in your families lives, but haven’t yet and why?

Prayer can be for taking time to be present for that gracious spirit and aware of the gifts that come to and through us simply because we are alive. One word for this time of presence is gratitude. Another word is meditation, in which, by observing our breathing, we become ever more aware of creation in process. In addition, prayer is theological reflection and social strategy, alone and in groups. This leads to a return of gifts bestowed, as in the wonderful Universalist affirmation, which we cherish in our communal worship, “Love is our doctrine, the quest for truth is our sacrament and service is our prayer…”.

How do you pray? Why do you pray? What role does prayer play in your life? Do you pray? What do you feel it teaches your children?
How did you acquire the rituals and prayers that you use with your family?

Closing Reading:
Sometimes we’re so concerned about giving our children what we never had growing up, we neglect to give them what we did have growing up. ~ Dr. James Dobson

Closing Ritual:
Stand in a circle holding hands around chalice.
Recite chalice extinguishing.
“We extinguish this flame but not the light of truth, the warmth of community or the fire of commitment. These we carry in our hearts until we meet again” Give a gentle squeeze of the hands and release.

 

Mother’s Day

Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamaition of 1870

The first North American Mother’s Day was conceptualized with Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Despite having penned The Battle Hymn of the Republic 12 years earlier, Howe had become so distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War that she called on Mother’s to come together and protest what she saw as the futility of their Sons killing the Sons of other Mothers. With the following, she called for an international Mother’s Day celebrating peace and motherhood:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
Say firmly:
 
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of
charity, mercy and patience.
 
“We women of one country
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
  
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have of ten forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war.
 
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
 
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
 
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
 
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions.
The great and general interests of peace.

The Rise & Fall of Howe’s Mother’s Day

At one point Howe even proposed converting July 4th into Mother’s Day, in order to dedicate the nation’s anniversary to peace. Eventually, however, June 2nd was designated for the celebration. In 1873 women’s groups in 18 North American cities observed this new Mother’s holiday. Howe initially funded many of these celebrations, but most of them died out once she stopped footing the bill. The city of Boston, however, would continue celebrating Howe’s holiday for 10 more years.

Despite the decided failure of her holiday, Howe had nevertheless planted the seed that would blossom into what we know as Mother’s Day today. A West Virginia women’s group led by Anna Reeves Jarvis began to celebrate an adaptation of Howe’s holiday. In order to re-unite families and neighbors that had been divided between the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War, the group held a Mother’s Friendship Day.

excerpted from http://www.mothersdaycentral.com/about-mothersday/history/

Spirituality Retreat 2008

This weekend I was extremely fortunate enough to have been able to attend my local Unitarian Universalist Spirituality Retreat.  The theme for this retreat was Sound and Music.  Singing in front of others or even with others has been extremely difficult for me all throughout my life, even though I love singing and music is general.  I knew that I was going to do whatever it took to really push myself this weekend and explore this issue.  I was at times really timid and certainly challenged out of my comfort zone, but I still felt safe.  The entire weekend I was safe.  No one was there to ridicule another.  No one was held in higher esteem of another.  No one was untrustworthy.  These may seem obvious to you or not, but to me these were huge revelations that hit me like a ton of bricks. 

It was not as though I were ever told I couldn’t sing.  On the contrary I was praised as a youth for singing.  I guess that standing out amoungst the crowd has just been something I grew up as.  My youth was different than the masses and I always wanted not to stand out.  Rather, I wanted to be invisible and just do what needed to be done.  But circumstances as they were, that was just not in the cards for me.  So, I guess that carried over into much of my life, including areas such as my art, singing, and opinions.  These were the most challenging to me.  They are open expressions of myself for others to make their judgements upon as good or bad.  Since that is not the intent that you enter into these actions with, I guarded them against the world by shying away from public speaking, exhibition, and particpation.  This wall is a barrier so thickly enforced now that the slightest release brings such a flood of emotions that it feels as if I have gone crazy and have no control over my senses or sensabilities.  Knowing this while entering into this weekend of exposing myself, I went in gaurded to the hilt so I wouldn’t break rather I could absorb all the intellectual aspects of it all then in my own time I could delve into the exercises on my own time without fear. 

Well, that is not exactly what occurred.

A few observations stood out to me.  Each person came for totally different reasons.  Everyone felt as though they were putting them self out there on the line.   We were all there to enjoy ourselves.  We were all there to make connections with new folks and to deepen the ones we already had.  No one was there to be hurtful!  Out of nervousness of the tasks we were asked to do we broke out in jokes and laughter to ease the tension that occurs when we have to expose ourselves vocally and individually.  It was challenging but exhilerating at the same time.  We all managed to get through the exercises and was joyfully surprised at how fufilling the experiences were.  In a playshop I attended in particular I found my self challenged beyond any comfort zone I thought I might have had there.  Improvisation with an individual sound added upon each others sound within the group.  I couldn’t find a sound to fit.  I couldn’t let my self stand out.  I couldn’t find a sound that wasn’t words.  I couldn’t keep up with the changes.  It all came down to risking myself and making something clearly all on my own accord to shape a whole as a group.  I did end up finding an exercise that gave me enough comfort that particpating was easier for me to grasp.  I got a lot out of this playshop.  I found that the poeple in this playshop to be so extremely helpful and caring and supportive even in those times where I was just pushed beyond my ability to particpate.  The discussions and the play we entered into during that class will stay with me for a very long time.   I knew this fear of risk is also a factor in my difficulty with terms such as “faith” and “God”.  I am  not sure if the folks in the group with me knew how connected this was to me in other areas of my spirituality. 

Have you ever had your name sung to you by all your peers?  Well let me tell you, that is one experience that truely speaks to your soul.  That is really all I can say about that.  Beyond profound!

The poeple, the tasks, the play, the place…all these were factors to making this a most spectacular weekend.  I have so much to absorb still and decifer.  I came away from this experience with so many tools, but most importantly I found a community that I can be somewhat ungaurded and allow myself to stretch beyond me and to practice being me with.