Religious Exploration – What it means to be a people of hope
Leah | Nov 28, 2017

Thoughts on the theme of Hope with a little help from Katie Covey, Our Soul Matters RE Resources Coordinator

Does it feel like you just hope to make it through the month? December becomes crammed like a cafeteria of holidays to choose from. And we have only two Sundays for Sunday School this month: Dec 3 which is Family Chapel for children in Pre-k through 6th grade and December 10th. Our multigenerational Christmas service is Dec 17 and there won’t be Sunday school Dec 24 or 31.

That’s why I like thematic ministry for RE. You can reflect on the question of “How are we a people of Hope?” at home, as a family too.  I often hear that parents/caretakers feel unqualified to provide UU faith formation for their children. And I agree that it can be a challenge. Many of us are not accustomed to talking about religious matters with anyone. But don’t worry about making mistakes on this with your children. Children and youth are always observing and absorbing how you interact with the world. If you simply verbalize that you wonder about things, you’ll have a path to spiritual discussions.

I invite you to sit back, and think about what ways you would like to explore the theme of Hope as a family.  In addition to talking at home, there are ways to join our religious community in this exploration. You might want to pick just one of these events or several, whatever works for your family. You might want to light candles each Sunday evening on an Advent Wreath, starting Dec 3. You might want to look up readings on the theme of Hope with your child and bring those to Family Chapel Dec 3.  You can join our faith community for decorating the tree during Coffee Hour on Dec 10 or come caroling that afternoon. You might want to come to the Multigenerational Solstice Dec 16 at 4:00 – I’m telling a great story this year! Our multigenerational Christmas service with the pageant Dec 17 fits right in with the theme of Hope, and tells the story of the birth of a babe in a manger and the hope for peace.  You may want to come for the service on Christmas Eve with carols and candlelight. And don’t forget about the Rite of Passage babysitting fundraisers Dec 9 and 16 from noon to 4:00, if you’d like to splurge on some time for yourself.

The possibility of hope is always available to us. Emily Dickinson’s poem, Hope, gives us the image of “that thing with feathers/ that perches in the soul…”  It’s simple and short enough that you and your child might be able to learn it by heart, so that you can carry it in your heart.

Hope by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all -…

May your winter season be as beautiful and soothing to you and your family!

 warmly in faith,


Book Recommendations to Explore and Celebrate Hope

One Candle

by Eve Bunting (author) and. Wendy Popp (illustrator)

For one family the traditional Hanukkah celebration has a deeper meaning. Amidst the food and the festivities, Grandma and Great-Aunt Rose begin their story — the one they tell each year. They pass on to each generation a tale of perseverance during the darkest hours of the Holocaust, and the strength it took to continue to honor Hanukkah in the only way they could. Their story reaffirms the values of tradition and family, but also shows us that by continuing to honor the tragedies and the triumphs of the past there will always be hope for the future. Tell this story with a candle to light.

 The One Day House

By Julia Durango, illustrated by Bianca Diaz

Wilson wishes that one day he will be able to help Gigi in many ways. He says that one day he will paint her house yellow like the sun, but Gigi assures him that he is all the sunshine she needs. Wilson wants to build a fence for her yard, fix her stairs so she can climb them again, fix her piano so it can be played once more. He wants to create a garden for her and fix her roof. There are so many things to fix and Wilson can’t do them by himself. Luckily though, Wilson asks for help and the community turns out to help Gigi and have Wilson’s wishes for her come true. Inspired by an action day in the community the author lives in, this book shows the power of community to help the elderly and those with disabilities live in safe and functional homes. Details on this sort of community involvement is offered in the Author’s Note at the end of the book.

 How to Heal a Broken Wing

by Bob Graham

In a spare urban fable, Bob Graham brings us one small boy, one loving family, and one miraculous story of hope and healing.

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey

by Doug Kuntz  (Author), Amy Shrodes  (Author), Sue Cornelison (Illustrator)

Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of heartbreaking stories in the news about refugee families desperately searching for new homes in a world turned upside down by conflict. But sometimes harrowing tales have happy endings and many involve simple but indelible acts of kindness and hope. This book tells the true story of an Iraqi refugee family whose beloved cat, Kunkush, travels with them as far as Greece, hidden away for safety. But he’s lost at some point in the journey, and the heartbroken family must go on. Amazingly, Kunkush resurfaces, a worldwide community of kind hearted folks scour the scattered refugee world via the Internet. This remarkable true story is told by the real people involved, with the full cooperation of Kunkush’s family.


A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope

by Michael Foreman 

Master storyteller Michael Foreman has created a timely and moving story of a child creating a garden of hope in the midst of poverty and war. A boy’s world is ruin and rubble, with a wire fence and soldiers separating him from the cool hills where his father used to take him as a small child. Can a tiny, green plant shoot give him hope in a bleak landscape?