April’s Faith Development Calendar

April 1st is April Fool’s Day! Although no one agrees on the historical origin of this day of foolishness, it is widely celebrated around the world as a day to play practical jokes on each other and celebrate fun and silliness.

April 7th is World Health Day. This would be a good time to talk about healthcare, world health concerns, and the work of those, such as Doctors without Borders, who bring healthcare to those who need it wherever they live. You could also learn more about UU’s who have been medical heroes: Albert Schweitzer and Clara Barton.

April 13th is Palm Sunday. In many Christian churches there will be branches and a procession, symbolic of the palms the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. This is also the beginning of Holy Week, which includes Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper Jesus celebrated with the Twelve Apostles, and Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Christ and is observed as a fast day by many Christians.

Passover begins on April 15th at sundown. On this night many Jewish families will be celebrating a special dinner, called a seder, and remembering the passage of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt to freedom. Although it is only loosely related to the holiday, I have recently enjoyed the charming picture book The Passover Lamb by Linda Elovitz Marshall

April 20th is Easter. For Christians this holiday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the holiday as it is celebrated by many at home, and the parts kids love (the Easter Bunny, the egg hunt) is more reminiscent of the pagan sabbat Ostara, which falls on the Vernal Equinox and so was celebrated in March. For many UU families, Easter can present some interesting challenges and questions, but I see this as an opportunity – a chance for us to create meanings and rituals around this holiday that are right for us. Michelle Richards wrote a good article about UU Families and Easter.

April 22nd is Earth Day. See my suggestions above, or look for a local earth stewardship event.

April 25th is Arbor Day. There is a whole new curriculum from the UUA called Circle of Trees that is free and available, and so you could go pretty in depth about trees as a family. Or you could just take a stroll around your neighborhood to notice the trees! And of course, it’s a great day to plant a tree if you can.

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You can have it as a PDF: Bringing the Sacred Homecalendarapril14

And if you find this useful, please consider making a small donation to The Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation, who make this work possible.

A Shout Out to LREDA

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At LREDA business meetings, we get creative with things like “Spin the Wheel of the Agenda”!

When I was a baby DRE, after only a few weeks of work, I attended my first LREDA (Liberal Religious Educators Association) meeting.  This is a monthly gathering of other fabulous and amazing people (mostly women but we can’t forget the awesome men who do this work too) who have listened, advised, studied, supported, shared, laughed and cried together through the years.  The individual people come and go, but the intent of the group remains the same:

We are here to support one another in this important work, which is so often done in isolation.  These are the people who understand what I do, because they do it too.  And at the larger (District, continental) level these are the people who volunteer their time to serve on Boards and Committees in order to make sure there are trainings and services to support us all in this work.

If you are a professional religious educator and you have not joined LREDA, what are you waiting for?  The dues are pretty reasonable, and the rewards are priceless.

Happy Spring!

Happy (almost) Spring!  How do you plan to celebrate the first day of the new season tomorrow?
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Get Out in Nature, Perhaps?
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Enjoy the Magic of a Camp Fire?

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Dig in the Dirt?

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Or Have Some Fun with Silly Holiday Candy?

Other Ideas include:

  • A Picnic
  • Looking for Flowers/flowering trees
  • Making a birdhouse or setting out a hummingbird feeder
  • Spring Cleaning
  • Putting out a mesh bag full of colorful yarn for birds to make nests with
  • Reading a book about the Spring Equinox

 

However you celebrate, I hope you have a truly blessed new beginning in the season.

A Few Awesome UU Women

In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8th), here are a few awesome Unitarian, Universalist, or Unitarian Universalist women you should tell your kids about:

1.  Susan B. Anthony (Unitarian and Quaker)

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2.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton

3.  Judith Sargent Murray

4.  Julia Ward Howe

5.  Lydia Maria Child

6.  Olympia Brown

7.  Margaret Fuller

These were all women who were born before women could vote in this country.  They were born in an era that did not respect women’s independence and intelligence, but they did not accept that as the way things had to be.  Many of the rights and opportunities that we enjoy now as women and girls owe much to the efforts of these women who came before us.

For a more kid-friendly version of this story, you could read this story from Tapestry of Faith to your children tomorrow.  And then you could also discuss some of these current women’s equality issues as well.

Happy Women’s Day!

March Faith Formation Calendar

Happy March!  I’ve been having fun putting together a little faith formation calendar for March.

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March is an interesting balance of partying and praying, of preparing and renewal.  Of course, it is the month that sees us turning the corner into Spring, and as such it is always a balance between the introspection of winter and the outward growth of spring.

March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’s Birthday.  Celebrate with green eggs and ham, read your favorite Dr. Seuss book, and talk about the lessons you have learned from Dr. Seuss.  Whether it is those Sneetches being snooty, or the Lorax speaking for the trees, Dr. Seuss’s stories have been a teaching tool for generations of children.
March 4th is Mardi Gras.  This is part of the “partying” theme of this month that I referenced above.  Mardi Gras is french for “Fat Tuesday”, and refers to the practice of making the most of the last day before the fasting of the lenten season begins the next day on Ash Wednesday.  Mardi Gras can be a fun time for all ages.  The following day you may observe some people with ashes on their foreheads.  This is primarily a Catholic practice, for Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent.  Many, including some UU’s, find the practice of lenten fasting (“giving something up for Lent”) to be a rewarding spiritual practice, either with the purpose of reminding one of the sacrifice made by Christ, or of bringing one closer to relationship with God, or of just clearing space in your life for an experience of seasonal renewal.
March 8th is International Womens Day.  Reflect on women’s rights around the world, learn more about a remarkable historical or contemporary woman (March is also Women’s History month!), and learn how you can support women’s equality.
March 16th is Purim.  This Jewish holiday commemorates the events related in The Book Of Esther, and there are some good picture books about Esther, such as Queen Esther Saves Her People by Rita Golden Gelman.  It is also another of those parties in March, as the holiday frequently involves putting on masks and having a big party.
March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day.  Another big party day, but as one of the most prominent “saints days” in our American culture, this could be a good time to talk to your kids about just what is a “saint”?  Saints and devotion to saints is part of Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. There are a lot of saints (more than 10,000!) – learn more about an interesting saint today. Of course, the obvious one for the day is St. Patrick, and I am quite fond of Tomie dePaola’s book Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland for learning more about him.
March 20th is the Spring Equinoxor the pagan sabbat Ostara.  Great ways to mark the first day of spring with kids include planting flowers, having the first picnic of the year, or other outdoor activities.  With the arrival of spring, get out in the garden more with your kids with ideas from books such as Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots.
March 22nd is World Water Day.  You could spend all month exploring water issues and water stewardship as a family using the Gather the Spirit curriculum from the UUA, visit the Wet Science Center to learn more about water, or you can just research and support one of the good water organizations around the world.

Download your own pdf of the calendar here: bringingthesacredcalendarMarch 2014

Or as a Word Doc, with hyperlinks: bringingthesacredcalendarMarch 2014

If you find this useful or fun, please let me know.  Enjoy!