Welcome to the first Being UU at Home lesson! This lesson covers the origins of the flaming chalice as a symbol of Unitarian Universalism, some ideas on how you can make your own flaming chalice at home, and some suggestions on how to use your flaming chalice to mark sacred time.
For each of these UU at Home lessons, we would like you to share your work with the GUUF community. Once you have made your own flaming chalice at home, please take a photo of it and email the photo and a brief description to David Funderburk at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you already have a personal chalice at home, we’d love for you to share that as well. Click here to see a gallery some of the personal chalices shared by the GUUF community.
The Flaming Chalice
A flame within a chalice, a cup with a stem and a foot, is the most distinct and recognizable symbol of Unitarian Universalism. Having a chalice in your home is a physical reminder of your faith and connection to the collective identity and history of Unitarian Universalism. The presence of a chalice can mark a sacred space, and the lighting of the chalice can delineate sacred time during gatherings and worship.
History of the Flaming Chalice
In 1940, the Unitarian Service Committee was formed to assist European refugees fleeing from Nazi prosecution during World War II. Austrian artist Hans Deutsch, during his work with the Unitarian Service Committee, first brought together the images of the flame and the cup as a symbol of sacrifice, love, hope, and hospitality. Over the years, Unitarian Universalists have assigned many different meanings to the symbol of the flaming chalice including “the light of reason, the warmth of community, and the flame of hope.” To learn more about the history of this symbol, read more here: https://www.uua.org/beliefs/who-we-are/chalice
Making a Chalice
When creating your own chalice at home for yourself or your family, use the materials you have available, and feel free to personalize yours however you wish. The basic ingredients are a flame and a chalice. The flame could be an actual candle, a votive tea-light, an LED candle, a flashlight, or even some colored paper cut out to look like a flame. The traditional chalice is a cup with a stem and a foot. Perhaps you have an appropriately shaped cup already available. If not, be creative with the objects you have to create this shape.
Explore the links below to discover ideas on how to use objects around the house to create your chalice:
Ideas for making a chalice from found objects (from Amanda Uluhan at East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue, WA).
Make a chalice from a small clay flower pot (from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Tapestry of Faith curriculum).
Build a chalice out of Lego bricks (Yes, Lego bricks!):
Make a paper flaming chalice (from the UU Church West, Brookfield, WI).
Using Your Chalice
Use your chalice to mark the beginning of sacred time. Lighting the chalice signifies to your family that you are marking this time and space together as sacred. Examples: a family meeting, worship, a family ritual, meditation practice, or any other activity that would benefit from having participants get into a sacred mindset.
Readings for Chalice Lightings
A short prayer or poem can help focus thoughts on the purpose of the time together. Many short readings for chalice lightings are available from the Unitarian University Association’s Worship Web Library: https://www.uua.org/worship/words/chalice-lighting. There is also a WorshipWeb app available for smart phones.
Share Your Work!
Don’t forget to share your chalice with the community! Once you have made your own flaming chalice at home, please take a photo of it and email the photo and a brief description to David Funderburk at email@example.com. If you already have a personal chalice at home, we’d love for you to share that as well. Go to the Chalice Gallery to see some of the personal chalices shared by the GUUF community.
This lesson was adapted from a “Unitarian Universalist Faith-at-Home Recipe Book” created for the Unitarian Universalist Association’s “UU Identity” Rennaisance Module in May, 2020 by David Funderburk, Amy Nelson, and Matthew Shineman.