The Light of Our Heritage

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When the children are invited to leave the worship service for a religious education class on Sunday mornings (if they wish, they are also welcome to stay in the worship service), I invite the children forward to carry a candle: “Carrying the light of our heritage into the classroom”.

It’s an interesting phrase, one which I inherit from what was in practice here before I became your Director of Religious Education. But what does it mean? Why this phrase, and not another?

In this context, the light is symbolizing a connection between, on the one hand, the tradition of Unitarian Universalism, the long history of those who have come before, and the congregation of elders and on the other hand our children and youth, and the future of this faith movement.

At a recent workshop for our Coming of Age program I started the youth off with some exploration of UU history and the history of this congregation, and then I asked “why does this matter to you? Why do we care about history?”

The answer from most of the youth was that it’s probably easier to decide where you want to go and what you believe if you know where you are coming from and what has come before you.

That is exactly why I think it’s important for our children to carry the light of our heritage into their classes – because in our classes we are exploring, learning, growing, and are even shaping the future of our own religious understandings and of Unitarian Universalism. But we are not creating all of this from nothing. There is a foundation that was built already, by all those who came before and asked questions and made meaning and formed community, and now here we stand on this foundation, carrying it forward into the future.

May we carry the light of our heritage, and by knowing what has come before, may we be ever more able to walk forward as part of a vital, living, tradition.

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