round geometric pattern in rainbow colors

image: Creative Commons (flickr: sacred geometry)

Friends, I imagine you’re as surprised and curious to see this creature [gesture to him] as I was when he blew into my life yesterday. Meet “AOLI.” And AOLI, meet the congregation.

[in AOLI’s voice – a special one which you have rehearsed] Good morning!

I should say that I named this creature AOLI. It’s an acronym for what he told me he was: an Agent Of Lively Investigation. That was too long for me, so I just shortened it to A for Agent, O for Of, L for Lively and I for Investigation. AOLI.

And I don’t know where or when AOLI came from. All I could gather is it must be far away – another galaxy maybe – possibly even another dimension or another time. Anyhow, AOLI wanted to know all about me and my world and we talked late into the night and our conversation came around to First UU and to the fact that we’re going to be installing Rev. Mara as our fifteenth settled senior minister next week and AOLI asked me, “What’s a Minister?”

I thought this was such a good question that I suggested we bring it here today to see what we could figure out together. AOLI, why don’t you get the conversation going.

AOLI: Yes, I could hardly sleep last night I was so excited for our lively investigation of: What IS a minister? What does a minster do? [To children:] What do you think? [Take and repeat several responses, then, seeking more, have AOLI notice the minister, who is approaching to offer some responses.]

AOLI [to minister]: Hello. Who are you?

Minister: I am the minister.

AOLI [very excitedly]: Wow! How exciting! YOU are a minister! You can help me so much with my lively investigation of this question: What ISĀ  minister? What do ministers do?

Minister: Yes, I think I can. And I’d love some help from a few of the children. You see, I have a large suitcase here packed with a number of things that will help to answer that question. [Children help open bag and start pulling out items. Minister takes them one at a time and explains what they are and what they symbolize. AOLI comments with excitement and understanding, but not so much to be distracting. Props list below shows what we used and what they symbolized. As minister goes along with the items s/he solicits help from the children to hold everything, commenting that we all are ministers in an important sense. We all are participants in shared ministry. No one person can do all of this all the time.]

Minister: [After last item…] Thank you for your help. AOLI, do you understand better now what a minister is?

AOLI: Yes, I absolutely do. Wow, ministers do so many wonderful and important things!



Stuffed creature to be AOLI. I used a 3-foot tall T-Rex and decked it out with a shimmery wig, bunny ears and sunglasses. The idea was to create a silly, strange creature look. He wore a nametag, too.

Suitcase to contain the following (you may opt for more or less or different):

Robe = a symbol of the minister’s role as preacher. The minister should put it on.

Stole = a symbol of the minister’s role as priest and therefore, officiant at important rites of passage such as child dedications, weddings, and memorial services. This should be put on.

Standing on the Side of Love poster = symbol for the minister as prophetic leader.

Hat (our minister used a safari/sunhat) = minister as Chief of Staff who supervises and supports the other staff who work at the church.

Referee whistle = symbol for when the minister has to ask people to take a time out or call a pause in the congregational action.

Books = symbol for the minister’s role as a teacher.

Photo directory = symbol for the minister’s need to know the congregation and invite them into shared ministry

Clergy name badge for hospital visits = symbol of minister’s pastoral role – supporting people when they are sad or hurting.

Headlamp = symbol of the minister’s role of shining light in the darkness and helping people see where they couldn’t see before.

Binoculars = symbol of the minister’s role of seeing things that may be far away from where others are looking, and helping to see those things.

Beach ball = symbolizes minister’s willingness to be playful and also her need to sometimes keep various metaphorical balls in the air.

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