Can you in your Conscience think, that our Holy Saviour is honoured, by Mad Mirth, by long Eating, by hard Drinking, by lewd Gaming, by rude Revelling; by a Mass fit for none but a Saturn or a Bacchus, or the Night of a Mahometan Ramadam? You cannot possibly think so.— Cotton Mather, Grace defended: A censure on the ungodliness, by which the glorious grace of God, is too commonly abused. A sermon preached on the twenty fifth day of December, 1712.
Christmas is a much loved holiday in the United States, celebrated to some extent by Christians and non-Christians alike. But that wasn’t always the case. For a generation during the 17th century, all celebration of Christmas was banned in Massachusetts, as it had been in England after the Puritan victory in the English Civil War. For a century or more after the law banning Christmas celebrations was repealed, Puritan ministers like Cotton Mather continued to preach fiery sermons against such activities. When Christmas finally returned to respectability it was, we are told, largely through the encouragement of Unitarian and Universalist ministers and laypeople.
Welcome before prelude
Good morning and welcome to West Fork Unitarian Universalists. I’m Robert Helfer and I feel blessed to serve this congregation as a lay leader. I’m glad to see all of you here today.
Thank you for joining us.
Let us use the prelude for centering. We are about to enter sacred time. We are about to make this time and this place sacred by our presence and intention.
Please silence your phones… and as you do so, I invite us also to turn down the volume on our fears; to remove our masks; and to loosen the armor around our hearts.
Let go of the expectations placed on you by others—and those they taught you to place on yourself.
Drop the guilt and the shame, not to shirk accountability, but in honest expectation of the possibility of forgiveness.
Let go of the thing you said the other day. Let go of the thing you dread next week. Be here, in this moment. Breathe, here.
Prelude: “The Sound of Silence”, Simon & GarfunkleContinue reading