Well December is here, that month that has come to herald winter for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. In the agricultural societies, it means that the summer harvest has been collected and put away and now is a time characterized by being indoors, resting from the labors of the year past and resting up for the season of planting to come. A time of cold evenings and warm time around the hearth.
And our world feels a little out of whack too, doesn’t it? Not just the natural seasonal change, with the constant news cycle spinning faster and faster, it’s hard to remember what normal is supposed to be. Especially at times like this I always think about the Unitarian Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his poem “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” I won’t get too deeply into it here (among other things, I’m thinking of it as inspiration for my thoughts on Christmas Eve), but Longfellow found himself overcome with sadness at this time of year in 1863 - he was disillusioned with the state of the world and had suffered personal tragedy because of it. The bells of Christmas seemed to be mocking and yet, the poem does answer with hope even in a difficult time.
Maybe that’s why balance is our theme this month. Why is it that topic tends to be on folks’ minds this time of year? The days grow so short, and the evening seem to begin early and stretch late. When our surroundings seem so tipped one way, how do we balance? Part of it all is perspective. The year itself needs to be balanced, all those long summer days that have already passed need to give way to these evenings if we are to maintain balance. But also, as individuals we are called to bring balance. We fill the dark nights with light from candles and holiday logs on the fire; we balance the cold with warm blankets and coats for our outside and warm beverages and hot food for our insides.
We are going to keep our balance at the church as well, not falling into a hibernative state but one of activity and excitement in the month of December to match some of where we slowed down this summer. Not only are we balancing activity, but we are balancing tradition here at UUCG. Our membership ministry has a brand new even planned by way of craft fair and children’s event during the month - hopefully you’ll find some way of being involved either as a participant or a host (or perhaps both); I‘m sure Hollis Berendt or Kathy Vaughn would love to have your help. By way of more traditional, we will have the second year of our Stone Soup pageant service the Sunday after Thanksgiving. There is an opportunity for all to be able to participate in the play, put on a bit of a costume, or simply sit and enjoy the show after the bustle of holiday preparation earlier in the week.
Our traditions will balance this month as well. The winter solstice falls on Saturday the 21st of this year and on the following day, our pagan group will celebrate our Sunday service with us with a program called “The Longest Night.” Later that week, we’ll have a late afternoon Christmas Eve service with the choir singing (and a special children’s part for those who want to participate), a candle light version of Silent Night, and a blessing for the year.
I hope we get the chance to catch up a little as this busy holiday season starts. As always, my door is open and I’m in the offices at most times on Mondays and Tuesdays if just a brief chat after services won’t be enough.
Yours in Faith and Fellowship,