Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Help the Animals!

From the Explorer's class:
This Sunday, The Explorers will be wrapping up their efforts to help save a variety of earth's creatures including Chinchillas, Dogs, Cats, Wolves, Tigers and Panamanian Golden Frogs. Thanks to many of you for stopping by
the Religious Education table during coffee service to sign petitions and offer monetary donations. This will be the final week to bring in donated items (gently used okay) for BARCS (supporting cats and dogs) and Small Angels Rescue (supporting chinchillas).
Click here for the Small Angels Rescue wish list.

In celebration of Summer Solstace, the Explorers will be making their own
pocket sundials in class this Sunday.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Coming of Age Service 2009

Our biennial Coming of Age program concluded last Sunday with a glorious celebration as the youth who had completed the program led worship for the entire First Unitarian Church community. In addition to leading our regular worship rituals such as chalice lighting, hymn singing and a "time for all ages," each youth shared a Faith Statement as a snapshot of their beliefs as they are right now. The minister, mentors and parents all shared blessings for the youth and the Coming of Age adult leaders led a Declaration of Coming of Age at the end of the service.

To listen to audio portions of this service, please visit the concluding posts of our Coming of Age blog here.

Congratulations to all the Coming of Age youth!

Flower Communion, Sun. June 7

The First Unitarian Church of Baltimore will celebrate the annual tradition of Flower Communion this Sunday, June 7 during worship at 11:00 am. Our service will be intergenerational and all children are welcome to participate in worship alongside the youth and adults. No RE classes will be offered during the service, but childcare will be available.

In addition to this meaningful ritual, we will also celebrate some of the joys of our community, including recognizing new members, installing the new Board of Trustees, and recognizing with deep gratitude the service of Religious Education volunteers.

Unitarian Universalist Congregations all over the world celebrate Flower Communion in the late Spring or early Summer. Flower Communion is a ritual created by Norbert Čapek (pronounced CHAH-pek), the founder of the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. In Čapek's congregation in Prague, there were many members who had left Catholicism and the ritual of wine-and-bread communion behind. Still, the idea of communion, of coming together and sharing, is a powerful one and Čapek sought a way to create a ritual that would offer a sense of communion that would fit with his congregation. He created the ritual of Flower Communion, where each congregant would bring a flower to worship and would leave with a flower brought by another. In this simple ceremony, we acknowledge the beauty and power of what we bring to community, while benefitting from the beauty and power we gain from community.

After fleeing the war in Europe, Dr. Čapek's wife, Rev. Maja Čapek brought the Flower Communion ritual to the United States in 1940. Sadly Norbert Čapek did not escape Europe and was captured by the Germans in World War II and sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where he was killed. Before he died, he wrote this prayer:

It is worthwhile to live and fight courageously for sacred ideals.

Oh blow ye evil winds into my body's fire; my soul you'll never unravel.

Even though disappointed a thousand times or fallen in the fight and everything would worthless seem,

I have lived amidst eternity.

Be grateful, my soul,

My life was worth living.

Each year, as we leave a flower and take another, let us remember the value of all life, grateful for what we have and all that is precious in the landscape of our days.

To learn more about Flower Communion, click here.