Presented without comment

19th century longhand script reads, “No meeting which is held in the evening shall be continued beyond five minutes after nine o’clock”  Source: Sunday School Society meeting notes 1828


No Rehearsal? Really?

On December 18th, we will have our first ever No-Rehearsal Living Nativity Pageant at Channing! Some people have heard about it and joked that it sounds a little wacky, fun and just on the edge of disaster, with the potential to be fantastic– a perfect Channing enterprise!

In all seriousness, it will be fun and gives folks of all ages to participate and celebrate together this season of hope.

I sure hope you will be there and also that you will be one of the many spontaneous players in the familiar story. We will have parts for readers, animals, shepherds and angels- and I bet we can even find some wisepeople to join in!

Here is another silly Nativity scene for you to enjoy!

Making It Up As We Go Along?

Continuing our theme of Creativity, our Chalice Circle last week focused on creative storytelling. It was a simple lesson, but one with much laughter! Using improvisational storytelling, each person in the circle added a few lines to a spontaneous story, making it up as we went along. What began with a girl and her stamp collection, soon turned to exploding pickles and alligators and all sorts of wild elements with two endings.

The concepts I hoped the children took away from this were:

  • connection to their bubbling creativity
  • thinking about storytelling as connected to faith (these two classes are using Bible based curricula this year and learning about Jewish and Christian stories)
  • connection to each other
  • a feeling of safety, as our church is a place to experiment and stretch our ideas together

Did I tell the children that these were my goals? No.

Do I worry that they didn’t “get” the lesson I had in mind? No way!

The circle I was lucky to be a part of last week was totally embodying all these concepts and more! That is the beauty of our Religious Education program. The children, youth and adults are doing church with each interaction, each caring conversation, each ribbon glued, coin collected or bulb planted. Our groups are in constant relationship, interchanging ideas, information and personalities which gives practice for responding to the world as Unitarian Universalists.

SO even when is seems that over in RE, we are just laughing and being silly, there is a whole lot more going on. And it is good.

I Can’t Live, With or Without SHOES

Last Sunday, I gave a message about the parables Jesus taught- well vaguely the message was about the parables.  Mostly, I spoke about how messages can get changed when they are handed down from generation to generation.

That’s what has happened with the message of Love that Jesus taught.  Somehow, in the centuries between when Jesus was alive and preaching, and when people were able to write down the story of his life and teachings, there were some interpretive changes.  And then over the past couple of thousand years, still more changes and interpretations have happened, spawning the creation of many different variations of Christianity.

I don’t want to write about that here, though…

I want to give you a glimpse at how my thinking went in creating a Message for All Ages this week.  My process is always rather lumpy and circumspect. At first, I began humming a tune from my teen years. Just couldn’t get it out of my mind, but I figured this was not quite right for the Sanctuary. Have a listen (but maybe not with the kids in earshot)

Then, I had the idea to talk about how when we listen to songs, sometimes the lyrics we HEAR are not exactly the ones that the musicians WRITE. Just like sometimes modern people reading the Bible think there is a literal translation, but often Jesus and others spoke in metaphors, or using illustrations from their historical context that don’t have the same meaning today. I spent a while writing down songs I have misheard over the years.  It was funny, but I scrapped that plan because I couldn’t find a resource to use. Today, a friend showed me this:

Do all these youtube videos seem irreverent? I hope not, because we need to have fun- while being respectful- with all our sources. I will go so far to say we need to have more fun, period. I understand why many are timid to embrace Christian sources, but this doesn’t serve our faith development.

Our Unitarian Universalist congregations (on the whole) are nervous about embracing the wisdom in the Bible because of some of the ways Christianity has been and is being misused. Some worry that saying yes to Jesus will make us a partner in the hate crimes we see by extremists. This is silly thinking. I think it is time to recognize that we can appreciate the good, life affirming and loving teachings of Jesus without diminishing our other sources.

Let’s not worry so much!  Let’s sing and laugh and play in church!  We have this wonderful community of accepting friends to play with us!  Let’s have an open and curious mind toward all the sources of our spiritual development. We have nothing to lose, and we might gain some understanding of ourselves along the way.

Thanks, Peter!!


“The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an Isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. Oh joy, rapture, I’ve got a brain. How can I ever thank you enough?”