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Come Into the Circle

Come Into the Circle

Worshiping with Children

Comprehensive how-to guide for creating meaningful religious experiences for children.

Author: Michelle Richards

Price: $15.00

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All new and comprehensive how-to guide for creating meaningful religious experiences for children. An experienced religious educator, Richards brings practical knowledge and a solid understanding of the spiritual needs of children to this useful and imaginative resource. The contents include suggestions on the form, style and elements of worship, plus an extensive collection of opening words and chalice lightings, meditations and prayers, stories, songs, sermons, and even complete orders of service to help you get started planning your worship. The rich variety of prayers and other resources are evidence of the contribution to these pages made by UU religious educators from around the country.
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Introduction
What Children Need from Worship
Workshop on Setting Worship Goals
Target Audience

Styles of Worship
Creating a Framework
Considering Content
Ritual
Music
Stories and Mini-Sermons
Meditation and Prayer
Themes
Intergenerational Worship
Conclusion
Child-Friendly Worship Resources
Chalice Lightings and Opening Words
Spoken Meditations
Guided Meditations
Prayers
Responsive Readings and Litanie
Stories
Mini-Sermons
Songs
Closing Words
Orders of Service
For More Information and Ideas
Multicultural Resources

Children everywhere love stories. On the next few pages, you will find several that can be used with children in worship. Each story is followed by props, responsive readings, meditations, and music that can be used in a worship service built around the theme of the story. Some discussion questions are also provided to expand the learning experience of the story.

Reflecting the Inner Light by Maria Costello O'ConnorOnce upon a time there was a little pebble. You know, it was one of those in a pile among lots of other stones that looked kind of like it. They were all gray, but they all had several sides, and these sides were all a bit different, one from the other. So each pebble was unique.

And among these pebbles were lots of quartz crystals, too. These beautiful stones also had several sides, and their sides were all a bit different. But the crystals were of brilliant colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white. All the colors of the rainbow, plus the color white.

Now these crystals were considered the "elders" of the stone family, and the pebbles were considered the "youngers." The pebbles went to church school to learn from the crystals all the mysteries of the world. They learned about themselves and their own natures. They learned how to be in good relationship to each other and to their stone community, and they learned how to make a positive difference in the world.

One pebble was particularly curious about all these mysteries, and he asked his quartz-teacher lots and lots of questions. He wanted to know everything! Where do I come from? Who am I? What is this world?

The pebble admired one of the crystals. She was so beautiful and bright. Light seemed to shine from her and glance in colors in all directions. The pebble wanted to be like her. The crystal was a good and wise teacher and said to the pebble, "You already are shining with light, so beautiful and so bright. Just watch me, and I'll show you what I mean." The pebble looked at the wise crystal and saw she shone with a beautiful red light. "In our rainbow principles," the teacher said, "red stands for the RESPECT that we give to each person as an individual." And they learned together about the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Then the pebble noticed a beautiful orange light glancing from another part of the crystal. "Orange means we OFFER fair and kind treatment to all." And together they practiced justice, equity, and compassion in their relationships. When a sparkling yellow light glanced from another of the crystal's facets, the teacher explained, "Yellow means we YEARN to learn and grow with others in our church." So they learned and practiced acceptance of one another and encouraged one another's spiritual growth.

"Now, see this green light?" said the crystal. "That means we GROW by searching freely for what is true." And in their classes they searched for truth and meaning in a free and responsible way.

"And what does that beautiful blue light that is dancing on there mean?" the little pebble asked. "Blue means we BELIEVE in our own conscience and practice democracy," the crystal explained. "And the purple? What is that precious purple light?" The crystal-teacher smiled. "Purple signifies that we work for a world of PEACE and freedom for all." The pebble was very content with all this knowledge. Together the pebble and crystal worked and played and practiced these wonderful Principles.

Then one day the pebble noticed that the crystal shone with a pure white light. The pebble was very excited. He jumped up and down and said, "I know what the white light means! I know! It means we value the interdependent WEB of life of which we are all a part!"

"That is wonderful." The crystal nodded. "You have really come a long way and have learned so much! I'm so proud!" "Does that mean I am more like you now?" the pebble wondered. "Does that mean I can shine with light in all the colors of the rainbow?"

"Yes, it does in fact mean that," the crystal replied. "But do you see, you have always been shining with all these beautiful lights. When we have been learning about and practicing these wonderful principles, you have been learning about yourself. You see, my facets are MIRRORS. When you have looked at my colors, you have seen YOURSELF. All I have done is mirror for you who you really are."

Theme: inherent worth and dignity, seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism
Audience: preschool through adult
Props: mirror, crystals or stones of many colors
Responsive Reading:"We Open Ourselves" (page 169)
Litany:"We Are the Light of the World" (page 160)
Meditations: "The Light Inside You" (page 128), "UU Principles for Children" (page 113)
Hymns: "This Little Light of Mine" (Singing the Living Tradition, 118), "From You I Receive" (Singing the Living Tradition, 402)

Questions: Who here can remember what the red crystal stands for? Orange? Yellow? Green? Blue? Purple? White?
Red stands for RESPECT. How do we show respect to other people?
Orange is for OFFERING fair and kind treatment to all. How can we be fair and kind?
Yellow means we YEARN to learn and grow with others in our church. What kinds of things do we learn here at church?
Green reminds us that we GROW by searching freely for what is true. How do we search for what is true?
Blue means we BELIEVE in our own conscience and practice democracy. Does anyone know what that means?
Purple signifies that we work for a world of PEACE and freedom for all. How can we work for peace in the world?
White is for the interdependent WEB of life. That's a really big word. Does anyone know what interdependent means?

"Richards has given us a rare gift that offers a wealth of practical tips and tools. The outline for a 'Workshop on Setting Worship Goals' alone is worth the investment. The author's suggestions for arranging the worship space, for storytelling and for engaging all of the senses in the worship experience are rich, evocative and empowering. She then gives us the added gift of hundreds of chalice lightings, prayers, stories, and other child-friendly worship resources. Throughout the book Richards is sensitive to diverse theologies and worship styles and to the delicate matter of connecting children to the larger church community. Her inclusive approach makes this book a gem for every congregation."

—Jeanne Nieuwejaar, author, The Gift of Faith"

"Richards has taken the worry out of planning children's worship and replaced it with wisdom and joy. From setting worship goals, to choosing child friendly-hymns, to finding stories that illustrate our Principles, Come Into the Circle is a resource I'll be turning to again and again."

—Phil Lund, lifespan program director, Prairie Star District

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