Concept - Everyone Is A Member Of God's Family
Ceremony - Ritual Of Prayer & Candle Light:
Light a candle every night, once a week, at families meetings, on special holidays, or on any other occasion. (As children get older, allow them to have the privilege of lighting the candle.) After you light the candle, say a little prayer of thanks: "Thank you God for your love which shines upon our family, our neighborhood, our community, our town, our country, our world, and the whole universe. We know your divine Light is in everyone."
Activity - Collage of Humankind
(4 years and up)
Some old issues of good picture magazines like National Geographic and People, glue or glue sticks, scissors, and heavy paper on which to glue the pictures.
Cut out many diverse pictures of humanity and meaningful words or phases; include people of all colors, cultures, dress and environment, then paste them on the paper to make a collage.
This can be done individually on a medium size piece of construction paper as a group mural project on a large sheet of strong cardboard with a colorful backing. Try adding a caption to the collage such as: "All people are brothers and sisters in the Family of God."
The brotherhood of men is founded on the fatherhood of God. The family of God is derived from the love of God — God is love. God the Father divinely loves his children, all of them. ~ The Urantia Book, 134:4.1
Suggested Adult Reading: The Spirit in Man, ~ The Urantia Book, 34:6.1
Concept — The Part And The Whole
Field Trip - The Roving Reporter
(8 years to young adult)
Go some place where there are many diverse people, such as a shopping mall, downtown area, or amusement park. On this field trip each child plays the role of a journalist assigned to report on the various kinds of people they observe. Provide a pad and pencil for them to take notes and afterwards ask them to write their article on what similarities and differences they noticed.
Activity - A Fragment of God
(6 to 12 years)
Spend some time working together on a beautiful jigsaw puzzle, preferable one with 1000 pieces or more. It should be set up someplace where family or group members can work on it over a period of time. This provides an excellent opportunity to point out how each piece is a part of the whole. When the puzzle is done, admire the wholeness of it, and use it as a metaphor to illustrate the wholeness of God. Have the children each choose and remove one piece of the puzzle, which represents them as a part of God's creation. Discuss how important each piece is to the wholeness of God, and how much more lovely the puzzle is when no pieces are missing. This is also symbolic of how each person holds a part of God, which is unique and irreplaceable. Point out that God never runs out of pieces. Note: For younger children a smaller puzzle can be used.
Activity - Paper Chain
Per child provide 2 each of 8 different colored sheets of paper (preferably red, yellow, orange, green, blue, white, purple, and black), a small stapler, or glue.
Cut all the colored sheets into strips about 2 inches wide. (A paper cutter helps tremendously if this activity is to be with a group of children.)
Children select from the colored strips (that can represent the many colors and kinds of people in the world) and build a chain, which they make by gluing or stapling a strip into a circle and adding similar links as they go.
For groups, the chains can be hooked together to make a longer chain, which can then be used to decorate a room, a tree or bushes.
Affirmations can be written on the pieces of paper before they are made into chains, such as: "God loves everyone." "We are all connected." "What I do affects others."
And this brotherhood, being universal, is a relationship of the whole. Brotherhood, when universal, discloses not the each relationship, but the all relationship. ~ The Urantia Book, 12:7.10
The part profits or suffers in measure with the whole. The good effort of each man benefits all men; the error or evil of each man augments the tribulation of all men. ~ The Urantia Book, 12:7.11
Throughout the universe, every unit is regarded as a part of the whole. ~ The Urantia Book, 3:5.15
Every impulse of every electron, thought, or spirit is an acting unit in the whole universe. ~ The Urantia Book, 56:10.14
Suggested Adult Reading: The Part And The Whole, ~ The Urantia Book, 12:7.1
Concept - God Lives Within Me
Activity - Jewel Inside Me
(3 to 12 years)
Give each child a lump of clay and a jewel (anything pretty and shiny, but not expensive). Discuss how God lives in each person as they mold a figure of themselves with the clay. When the figure is done, ask each child to push the jewel into the heart area of the figure. The figure can be kept as a reminder that God lives in the heart of each one of his children.
Activity - The Gift of God
(3 to 12 years)
Give each child an inexpensive "jewel" inside a small box wrapped with beautiful paper. When the gift is opened and the jewel is found, explain to the child that this is to keep as a reminder of the beautiful gift of God's Spirit that lives within them.
Activity - The Light Of God Within
The LIGHT OF GOD is a theme for expression using colorful makers, pencils, crayons, and paints. It can be great fun to imagine how God's light shines through us, and what that might look like. Perhaps it bursts through our minds and lights us up all over. Children can draw or paint pictures or a mural showing their own creative expressions of this.
Ceremony - Receiving God's Spirit
(Between the ages of 5 and 6 years old)
A simple ceremony can be held to acknowledge this amazing gift. For this special ceremony you can either gather a group of extended family and friends or keep it to immediate family. The occasion should be one of celebration — like a party. A short ceremony of 15 minutes is about right for children of this age.
The following is but one idea for such a ceremony:
As the ceremony begins explain to the child, "We are celebrating the fact that the Spirit of God lives in your heart, and that He is love. His light will live in you forever. His love will shine from you forever."
A blue ribbon with a badge connected to it that states, "God Lives In Me" is hung around the child's neck. The child's name and the date can also be inscribed on the back of the badge. Everyone at the ceremony is given a candle (with a drip protector) to hold. One of the child's parents lights their own candle saying, "My candle represents the light of God. I will light your candle with this symbol of His light." When this is done, everyone attending steps up to light their candle from the child's candle to signify that each child brings God's light into the world. This can be followed by a group song or cheer. The ceremony can be individualized according to the wishes of the parents.
Following the ceremony a simple prayer of thanksgiving may be said:
"Thank you Father/Mother God for giving your most precious gift of Spirit to live in this child, to be with them and guide them all their lives."
A special and beautiful certificate can be given to the child acknowledging God's special gift.
A box wrapped in beautiful paper with a small "jewel" inside can be given to the child to unwrap
Unless a divine lover lived in man, he could not unselfishly and spiritually love. Unless an interpreter lived in the mind, man could not truly realize the unity of the universe. Unless an evaluator dwelt with man, he could not possibly appraise moral values and recognize spiritual meanings. And this lover hails from the very source of infinite love; this interpreter is a part of Universal Unity; this evaluator is the child of the Center and Source of all absolute values of divine and eternal reality. ~ The Urantia Book, 196:3.16
How To Enhance The Meaning
Whenever possible try to incorporate music in, around, or behind sacred activities. The best instruments are ones that are fun and easy for children to use, such as: good sounding drums; egg shakers, rhythm sticks, chimes, and triangles. Have on hand a CD/cassette player with a broad variety of music from many cultures to play while the children are engaged in an activity.
The most reverent place for a child to be is out in nature. Go for a walk around the block or a climb a mountain. Share the beauty of a sunset and/or a sunrise with them. Get them out into the night to look at the stars, and point out some of the basic constellations and how the patterns are part of a whole. Help them to fully experience their senses by accentuating the feel of a gentle breeze when it caresses their skin; the taste of nectar at the end of a honey suckle blossom; the way leaves sparkle in the sun; the joyous sound of wild birds in spring; or the deep rich earthen smell of the forest. Nature is full of magical metaphors that reflect divine patterns.
(5 to 12 years)
Create a soft ambiance of reverence by dimming the lights, using good incense or essential oil, playing soft music, and lighting some candles. Provide beanbags, pillows, or mats on the floor for the children to sit on. Ask them to put their thumb and middle finger together as they rest their hands on their knees. Encourage them to sit up straight and take deep breaths. Have them close their eyes and concentrate on being inside themselves. Briefly explain to them that chanting OM helps people to focus and relax. You may even choose Tibetan monks chanting OM as your background music. After taking three deep breaths, begin to chant OM and the children will soon join you. Keep it up for 3 or 4 minutes or until everyone has chanted at least 8 full OM's. It can take a few times before the children lose their self-consciousness. (I do this regularly with a group of 50 children, ages 5-11, at the daycare care center where I work, who now ask me if they can OM.)
Once they are deep in a super-conscious state, lead the children through a meditative visualization. Here is an example one you can use: "You are in a room which feels too warm and closed in. Outside, the evening is just beginning, and you want to go out to watch the moon come up, and feel the cool freshness of the air, and see the first stars come out. So you open the door and walk out of the room into the night. As you get outside, you notice a hill, and you know that if you walk up the hill you will have a much better view of the sky and the moon when it comes up. As you begin to walk up the hill, you take a deep breath of fresh air, and marvel at the last rays of the setting sun. Although you feel safe, you also feel alone.
You remember that you have a special angel that you can call on to walk with you. At once you feel her presence beside you. You know that she has joined you because you feel lighter when she's there, and you don't feel alone anymore. Your angel is with you. When you get to the top of the hill you can look out in every direction. To the East you see the first sliver of the huge full moon coming up over the horizon. As it gets a little darker, you point out Venus ¯ the first star of the evening ¯ to your angel. Then you look for three stars in a row — the belt of Orion. As your eyes become used to the darkness you notice more and more stars coming out to greet you and your angel. Soon the sky is filled with a full round moon and stars everywhere you look. There are billions of stars and they seem to spiral up into infinity, like a stairway to God. Your heart swells with thankfulness for God who created this magnificent night sky that you see. You imagine that, at this very moment, somewhere in the universe, there other people who are looking up into the night sky thanking God for its creation. You begin to feel sleepy as you try to imagine how big the universe is. So you lie down on the hill and close your eyes while your angel sings a special song just for you. You feel God's love cover you like a soft warm blanket. Your angel carries you back into this room and lays you very gently on the floor. She blows on your eyelids and you open your eyes and thank her for being your friend.
Gather some beautiful scarves of different colors, about 4 or 5 feet long. Try to include black satin too, as some children like dark colors. Put on some music, like Mozart for Children, and dance freestyle with them, holding the veils with both hands while running, bending, skipping, and lying down. Help the children create a drama with the colors, giving each child chance to "perform". Create a story as they move: Once upon a time the world was always dark. God made the sun to shine and then there was not only the darkness of night, but also the lightness of day. The daylight made the flowers grow (all the colors dancing and moving) but it also made them hot and thirsty. They needed water (enter blue) so God sent water for the flowers…. and so on. Stories don't have to be about God to allow emotions to be expressed. Children can readily create their own living myths.
Most children will respond well to warm, loving touch. Children can also be encouraged to touch each other in appropriate and loving ways through massage.
Family or group can sit in a circle. Each places their hands on the shoulders of the one in front and kneads. The circle can be turned around with each one facing the opposite direction.
For each pair (the person massaging and the one being massaged), provide a bucket of warm soapy water, some good aromatic massage oil, and a large towel for drying.
The child who will be receiving the foot massage should wash their feet in the bucket of soapy water, dry them off well with the towel, and relax in a chair. The child giving the massage will sit in front of them, pick up one of their feet, put a small amount of the aromatic oil on it, and massage it well with their hands. Then the children can switch roles. It may be hard to get them to try it, but once they do, they greatly enjoy the experience giving and receiving loving touch. This can be a wonderful way to teach altruistic service, and meaning can be added by first reading the story of how Jesus washed and anointed the apostles' feet. (A good trick is to use really delicious smelling oil.)
Affirmations can be used in many ways on a regular basis and are always effective.
The following affirmations can be said or read by individuals or groups:
The light of God has been given to me. It is in me.
I will follow God's light and it will show me the best way to walk each day.
I carry a spark of God's divinity in my heart.
My body is the temple of God; I will honor the temple and take care of it.
God's light is in everyone. I can see God shining in each person I meet.
I kindle the spark of God within me by talking with God as a friend in my own heart and mind.
I kindle the spark of God within me by helping those around me.
I kindle the spark of God within me by thanking God for life and family and friends.