“With mounds of greenery, the brightest ornaments, we bring high summer to our rooms, as if to spite the somberness of winter come. In time of want, when life is boarding up against the next uncertain spring, we celebrate and give of what we have away.”
We have much to celebrate this season of lights. I love that in our liberal religious home we cherish the many holidays of this month. Like the banners that surround our sanctuary with the symbols of the great religions and humanistic philosophies of the world, the month of December embraces us with many opportunities to find the light and warmth and soothing darkness found in the religious wisdom of the world. Paganism reminds us that the cold and long nights are meant to draw us inward to rest and restore ourselves with the rhythms of nature. Judaism holds up a light to humanity that burns despite all odds. Christanity tells the story of the birth of a child who will save humankind from its destructive ways. Kwanzaa celebrates the richness of African American culture and the principles of unity, self-determination, collective work of responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Our Unitarian Universalist faith honors all of these wonderful traditions as we also cherish our liberal religious ancestors bringing many of the traditions of Christmas–such as the Christmas Tree and “A Christmas Carol”–to our larger culture. I hope you will find some hope, joy, and peace in the holidays this year.
Stillness is our spiritual theme for community contemplation this month. Each month, we reflect upon a theme in our worship life, group activities, and publications to build connections across the life of our congregation and to provide opportunities for spiritual deepening together. Stillness is broadly defined as the absence of motion and sound. In religious terms, stillness often means to dwell within oneself or to encounter the divine. It is a prerequisite for many forms of spiritual practice, creativity, and more mundane activities.
I often think of stillness in terms of absorption in being itself–the antidote to always being in a hurry or too focused on becoming. Stillness invites us to be with ourselves and to accept ourselves as enough. It invites us to live with greater patience and acceptance of what is. It helps us to rest and restore ourselves for the time when we cannot be still. I hope you will reflect more deeply on this important spiritual theme in your homes and through our church activities this month.
In addition to being a time of celebration for many, the holidays can also remind us of the loss of loved ones and may amplify feelings of isolation and sadness. We will again be hosting a Holiday Community Dialogue Circle this year to provide some time for support from beloved community on Wednesday, December 16th, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. The zoom information will be published in our private online group.
Our Pastoral Care Associates are also available to provide companionship and a listening ear if some additional support would be helpful. They can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the church office. Lastly, this is a great time to reach out to friends and family members, our elders, those who may be isolated, and others who are struggling in this difficult year. Lets support each other this holiday season and keep the spirit of our liberal faith burning bright.