Sunday December 18, 2016

Prelude: What Night is This? vocals, keyboards, adaption- Katerina El Haj
guitar- Jay Myerson –


This is the Solstice,
the still point of the sun,
its cups and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where
the past lets go of and
becomes the future;
the place of caught breath,
the door of a vanished
house left ajar.

Margaret Atwood

Song: Gathered Here

Chalice Lighting:  In the Bleak and Cold Winter By Cynthia Landrum
In the bleak and cold winter,
We gather ourselves in
To light the fire to warm our spirits,
To kindle the flame of love and hope.

Song: The Principles Song (to the tune of Do Re Mi):
One, each person is important.
Two, be kind in all you do.
Three, we’re free to learn together.
Four, and search for what is true.
Five, all people have a voice.
Six, build a fair and peaceful world.
Seven, we care for Earth’s lifeboat.
That will bring us back to me and UU.

Story for All Ages: The Yule Faeries – A Winter Solstice Story

A group of little Faeries huddled in their home deep under the roots of a giant oak tree. They were safe and snug in their tiny underground cave lined with dandelion fluff, bird feathers, and dried moss.

Outside, the wind blew cold and the snow fell softly down to cover the ground. “I saw the Sun King today,” the faerie named Rose said as she pulled her mossy cloak tighter about her. “He looked so old and tired as he walked off through the forest. What is wrong with him?

“The great oak said he’s dying” answered Daffodil.

“Dying? Oh, what will we do now?”, Little Meadow Grass started to cry, “If the Sun King dies, our little plant friends will not grow. The Birds will not come and sing again. Everything will be winter for ever!” Lilac, Dandelion and Elder Blossom tried to comfort their friend, but they were all very sad. As they huddled together, there was a knock on the tiny door.

“Open up, Faeries,” called out a loud voice. “Why are you hiding instead of joining us in our Solstice celebration?” Rose opened the door and the little gnome Brown Knobby pushed inside, shaking the glistening snowflakes off his brown coat and hat.

“We are too sad to celebrate,” Daffodil said wiping her eyes, “The Sun King is dying, haven’t you heard?”

“He is dead you silly Faeries.” Brown Knobby’s round dark eyes sparkled with laughter. “Now hurry, or we’ll be late for the celebration!”

“How can you be happy and laughing?!” Elder Blossom stamped her little foot and frowned at the gnome. “If the Sun King IS dead, it will be winter always. We will never see the Sun again!”

“Silly little child-Faeries.” Brown Knobby grabbed Dandelion by the hand and pulled her to her feet. “There is a secret to the Winter Solstice. Don’t you want to know what it is?”

The Faeries looked at him in surprise. “Secret?” they all said. “What secret? We are only new little Faeries, you silly gnome. We’ve never been to a Solstice celebration before.”

“Come and see. Come and see. Get your capes and come with me.” Brown Knobby danced and jigged around the room. “Hurry, Hurry, don’t be slow! To the Sacred Oak Grove through the snow!” He danced out of the door and disappeared.

“What did that gnome mean?” Rose asked as she gathered up her cloak of dried rose petals held together with cobwebs and lined with goose down.

“I don’t know, but the Lady lives in the Sacred Grove.” Meadow Grass pulled on her hat.

“Perhaps if we go to see the Goddess, She can explain what Brown Knobby was talking about”.

The Faeries left their snug little home and trudged off through the snow toward the sacred oak grove. The forest was dark with only the light of the Moon shining down through the thick fir branches and bare limbs of maple and hawthorn. It was very difficult for them to get through the snow because they were very, very small. As they waded through the wet snow and shivered in the cold wind, they met a fox.

“Where are you going, Faeries?” the fox asked.

“To the sacred grove,” they answered, they were cold and shivering.

“Climb on my back and I will take you there swiftly.”

The fox knelt down so the Faeries could climb up. Then he raced off through the dark.

“Listen!” Lilac said as they neared the Grove of Sacred trees. “Someone is singing happy songs. A LOT of someones.”

The beautiful music carried over the cold, still, moonlit air. It was the most beautiful music the Faeries had ever heard. The fox carried the Faeries right to the edge of the stone altar in the center of the grove, then knelt down.

“Look!” said Elder Blossom as they slid to the snow covered ground. “There is the Maiden and the Mother and the OLD Wise Crone, and many other Little People.”

“They are all smiling and happy,” said Lilac as she looked around at all the creatures.

“All the animals are here too,” whispered Dandelion. “Why are they all looking at the Mother?”

The Faeries moved closer to the three Ladies seated on the altar stone. The Mother held a bundle close in Her arms, smiling down at it. The Maiden reached down and took the Faeries gently in her Hands. She held them close to the Mother so they could see what She held.

“A Baby!” the Faeries cried. ” A new little Baby! Look how he glows!”

“He is the newborn Sun King,” said the Maiden smiling.

“But Brown Knobby and the old oak tree said the Sun King was dead,” the Faeries answered her. “How can this little baby be the Sun King?”

“That is the great secret of the Winter Solstice.” The Old Wise One touched the baby’s cheek with her wrinkled hand. “Every year the Sun King must come to the sacred grove during the darkest days of winter where he dies. I take his spirit to the Mother who gives him new life again. This is the way for all creatures, not just the Sun King.”

” You mean everything lives and dies and lives again? the Faeries looked down in wonder at the baby Sun King, nestled in the arms of the Mother.

” Yes, Little Ones,” answered the Old Wise Crone. “There is never an end to life. This is the great mystical secret of the Winter Solstice.”

The Faeries laughed because they were so happy.

“I think the little Sun King should have gifts,” said Rose. “I will show him where the wild roses bloom in the early summer.”

“And, I will teach him to call the birds and listen to the songs of the wind,” exclaimed Dandelion.

“When he is older and stronger, ” said the Mother, “then the flowers will bloom at his touch, the birds will return to sing their songs, and the air will be warm from his breath, and winter will be gone for a time. Then the Sun King will run and play with you in the forest.”

The little Faeries sang to the Baby Sun King, songs of the coming spring, the sweet smelling flowers, the bumbling bees, and all the secrets of the forest. And all the creatures within the sacred grove sang with them. Then the fox took them back to their snug home under the roots of the giant oak tree where they dreamed wonderful dreams, waiting for the warmth of spring and the fun they would have with the little Sun King.

Offering and Response  (Unison)
For the gifts which we have received—and the gifts which we, ourselves, are—may we be truly grateful. Yet more than that, may we be committed to using these gifts to make a difference in the world: to increase love and justice; to decrease hatred and oppression; to expand beloved community; to share, and to keep sharing, as long as ever we can. Amen.

Reading: Psalm for the Wintered Soul By Cynthia Frado
To the Weaver of Molecules, the Spinner of Stars
the Impulse that gives birth
to the Universe, to the Earth,
to Me

In the deepest, darkest night of my wintered soul
I wrap myself in the blanket
of my sadness and grief,
pain and suffering,
doubts and concerns,
fears and questions,
and look out from my wondering eyes
toward the Light that
dares to penetrate
the layers
that surround me.

So obscured is my vision
because of the trials and tribulations
of this life,
that it is Your fractal rays of
possibility and hope
that I seek
to inspire me
to emerge from this cocoon
that holds me.

Each luminescent ray
of Love and Hope and Possibility
is that catalyst which I need
to transform my thoughts and emotions
into fuel for that inner fire
which will dispel the darkness of my night,
which will help me to see
more clearly
the embers of love and hope and possibility
that dwell within me.

I long to be filled
with renewed energy and strength
to thrust new life
into these wings of my rebirth;
the fragile fragments of my life
the ingredients in the Alchemist’s hand,
creating a new energetic substance
to course through my veins.

This womb of my becoming
has been one of struggle and transformation.
I was never meant to remain
in this confinement of darkness.
I was created to dwell
in the Infinite Light.

To the Weaver of Molecules, the Spinner of Stars
the Impulse that gives birth
to the Universe, to the Earth,
to Me

In the deepest, darkest night of my wintered soul
I shall look thru the window of my expectant eyes
toward the Source of my Being,
waiting as I do
for Your Alchemist’s hand
to create within me
the change that is necessary
for the season of my rebirth.

I was never meant to remain
in this confinement of darkness.
I was created to dwell
in the Infinite Light.

Spring will come again,
this I know.
And I,
I will be ready for my emergence and unfolding,
that I might soar
ever higher
into my own Becoming,
into the Light of my own Transcendance.


Amen and Blessed Be


For many people the words Yule or Yuletide and Christmas are interchangeable. However, Yule, is its own special holiday. It is part of the wheel of the year. It is actually the shortest day of the year, the time when darkness is closest all around us.  As we learned in the story for all ages, Yule is the rebirth of the God/Sun. The sun will be returning to us more every day.  I would like to share with you some Yule traditions, most you have probably heard of and why they are important.

The Yule Log – The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the Solstice festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder’s land, or given as a gift… it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze by a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.
In more modern times candles, like this one, are used or smaller branches that can be burned more easily. The Yule log, is burned in the fire to symbolize the Newborn Sun/Son.

Decorating with Holly and other Evergreens:
It is traditional to decorate your house green to show that even in the darkest and coldest of days there is still life within the world. The trees and plants used for this are evergreens like holly and pine, but also included rosemary, gorse, bay, cypress, and yew. The Holly was considered king of the winter. Wreaths on the door were popular. They symbolize the wheel of the year.

Originally, feasting at this season had several purposes: one, to acknowledge the return of the season of growth with eating heartily during a season of scarcity was a way to give physical expression to the hope for abundance in the year to come. Second, in countries where winter meant a very bleak time of inactivity (as in the fishing and farming communities of rural Scotland), a feast was a way of alleviating boredom and depression. Third, the elaborate Yuletide activities of the nobility from the Middle Ages onward gradually developed into status-conscious events wherein households vied with each other for acts of generosity to their communities: for the poor, this meant eating well and receiving much-needed gifts of new clothing or shoes. During the Protestant Reformation, when Yuletide festivities were all but banned, there were still some stubborn monarchs and lords who persisted in their celebratory rites of feasting and of treating their household servants to a fine meal; to do less would be disastrous, as growing levels of poverty meant food shortages in winter.

The term wassail in Old English means “your health.” The traditional bowl or cup full of mulled wine originates in the fourteenth century; the leader of a gathering would take up a bowl and cry out “Wassail!” and toast the others; the cup would then be passed on to the next person, with a kiss, until all in the room had drunk from it. Interestingly, some modern Wiccan covens observe this tradition when passing cakes and wine in circle.

There were pagan songs, sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced round stone circles The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, usually taking place around the 21st of  December. The word carol actually means dance or a song of praise and joy! Carols used to be written and sung during all four seasons, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas has really survived.

Yule is a time to be joyous and celebrate. The sun is returning. The days will soon be getting longer. We are coming out of the dark.

Song: Deck The Halls

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la!
‘Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la!
Don we now our gay apparel, Fa la la la la la la la!
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol, Fa la la la la la la la!

See the blazing yule before us, Fa la la la la la la la!
Strike the harp and join the chorus, Fa la la la la la la la!
Follow me in merry measure, Fa la la la la la la la!
While I tell of Yuletide treasure, Fa la la la la la la la!

Fast away the old year passes, Fa la la la la la la la!
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses, Fa la la la la la la la!
Sing we joyous all together! Fa la la la la la la la!
Heedless of the wind and weather, Fa la la la la la la la!

Joys and Sorrows
If you woke this morning with a sorrow so heavy that you need the help of this community to carry it;
or if you woke with a joy so great that it simply must be shared, now is the time for you to speak.

For the joys and sorrows that haven’t been spoken, but which remain in the silent sanctuaries of our hearts.
These joys and griefs, spoken and unspoken, weave us together in the fabric of community.

Reading: Meditation on the Four Directions By Julia Hamilton

In the pagan tradition, which is grounded in a respect and reverence for the natural world, calling upon the four directions is the usual way to begin any ceremony. Each direction is associated with an element of the natural world, and represents some part of our human nature as well. The directions are not seen as separate and isolated, but rather as part of the interdependent system that makes up the world. Here on our altar, we have the symbolic elements for each direction, and we will walk through the meanings associated with each direction before entering into a time of meditation.

We begin in the East, toward the rising sun. The element of the east is air, represented on our altar by a feather. Air and breath give us life. It is the direction of inspiration – the word that literally means to take in air. The east is associated with the mind, with knowledge and learning and intellectual curiosity. Imagine the birds, turning and wheeling in the air, imagine the breeze blowing through your hair. Turning toward the east, we look for a fresh start, an invigorating breath, a new idea. When you are feeling stuck in a rut, beholden to a routine, or if the wind has gone out of your sails, look eastward.

We move around the wheel to the south. The element of the south is fire, and in the southern place on our altar the flame of our chalice burns bright. Fire is a transformative force, it is heat and light and powerful change. In the Northern Hemisphere, it makes sense that we associate the south, towards the equator, with the warmth of the sun and the heat of the flame. We see birds move south, butterflies move south, whales move south, seeking warmer places when the weather gets cold. When our internal weather gets cold, turning south is a metaphor for turning toward warmth and daylight, seeking out the changes that will warm us up, get our blood moving, call us out of our winters, out of hibernation, into action.

Continuing around the circle, we arrive in the west. The element of the west is water, and here on our altar we have some of the water collected at our Ingathering services each September. We add to this water each year, symbolizing the way we come together in our community as individual drops join into a mighty river. In the west, we are drawn into the experience of our emotions. It is a direction that calls us to self-reflection and self-understanding. Our emotions move in us like water, flowing through our lives, sometimes calm and sometimes turbulent, but always flowing. When we dam up our feelings, just like when we dam up a river, the pressure builds until it finds an outlet. If you are seeking to get in touch with your inner life, with your emotions, turn towards the west.

We move now to the North. The element of the North is earth, represented here by some dirt from our very own garden. There is stability here, the ground of our being. The north represents the place that holds us, that allows us time and space to heal and grow, to feel nurtured and respected. It is also the place of embodiment, of connecting with our physical self, with the concrete, tangible world around us. The north calls to you if you are seeking balance, the deep wisdom that lives in your bones, a place of rest and recovery.

We have moved through these four directions, given them shape and meaning:

East: Air, breath and inspiration.
South: Fire, transformation and action.
West: Water, feeling and reflection.
North: Earth, balance and wisdom.

Now, I invite you to turn toward the direction that calls to you today. You can stay in your seat, you can stand, you can turn your head or your whole body, but orient yourself toward the one of the directions, the element that speaks to you and your life right now, and when I ring the bowl gong, we will enter into two minutes of silent meditation.

Silent Meditation

Closing: Be a Branch of the Tree of Life By Norman V Naylor
Our eyes and minds turn now toward the ordinary.

Leaving this space made sacred by our presence, take with you at least some seed of understanding, hope and courage and drop it into the confusion of the world.

Nourish the seed that it might grow as a tree of life giving shelter to the weary and hope to the despairing.

Be yourself a branch of the tree of life. Amen.

Song: Go Now In Peace (3 times)

Go now in peace, go now in peace
May our love and care surround you
Everywhere, everywhere, you may go


We will have church next Sunday. We would love to have you.