Advent is a season of waiting. The first Sunday is the Sunday of Hope. Hope is at the same time magical and hard work, tenuous and strong, nameless and nameable, intangible and something we feel deeply, and beautiful and ugly.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent is a time to celebrate peace. Spread peace as much as you can.
To pass the peace by Clarke Dewey Wells
To pass the peace is a revolutionary act.
It means to trust the outsider we fear, to wish well those who have hurt us; and to forgive at last ourselves.
To offer the blessing to those around you is to love your neighbor and yourself and to be at peace with God.
Pax vobiscum. Peace. Peace.
The Third Sunday of Advent is all about joy. The following prayer and meditation were written for Christmas Eve, but it is about the Joy of the season.
The Eve of a Birth Like No Other by Lisa Doege
In stark light, against a black background, a simple wooden manger
Holy One, Emmanuel, You are with us and we with You, now on the eve of a birth like no other, and a birth exactly like all others.
We ponder the dreams and foretelling—royalty, savior, the light of the world. Revolution and possibility wrapped in helplessness and vulnerability. Divine love incarnate. Can it be? Dare we believe?
We wonder what manner of birth shall this be?
Will we labor alone?
Or shall unknown hands assist?
Will there be joy in the pain? Danger?
A lusty eager, protesting cry of arrival?
A lifetime in a moment of heart-stopping uncertain silence?
We wonder who shall issue forth?
Our truest, bravest, most precious self in infant guise?
A leader for them all?
We fear indifference for the one to be born. We fear hostility for the one to be born. We fear for ourselves and the one to be born unending cycles of struggle, risk and failure; duplicity and betrayal; wandering, searching, wrong turns and futile leads; tyranny and oppression; invisibility and forgotten-ness. We fear disappointment, mediocrity, resignation. We fear, perhaps most of all, that the wholeness that will arrive will be so very different than the perfection we imagine, that we will fail to recognize holiness squirming in our grasp.
Breathe into us strength and tenderness, resilience and steadfastness for the birth soon to come —that body and soul might stretch and push with the labor rhythms of the universe, neither breaking nor abandoning the task. May our tears be of joy, exhaustion, amazement but never surrender.
Gently wipe the film of doubt from our eyes, firmly blow the dust of doubt from our faith, that we might see holiness and foresee redemption in the one, the many soon to be born. May our belief make a way through the wilderness.
Open us to the fullness of the birth whose time is so nearly come—the joy and sorrow, the unknowing and the discovery, the messy and surprising humanity, the incomprehensible and utter rightness of the miracle. May our meager expectations of what might be vanish in the bewildering revelation of what is.
Ready our hearts for the blessing of being, at once and all together, any age, any gender—midwife, mother, newborn babe. Praising and giving thanks for all that we help into being, for all that we bear into being, for all that is born into being through us and in us. May we move in the grace of this triple blessing, radiate the pulse of this triple blessing, rest in comfort of this triple-blessing. Midwife, parent, newborn babe.
On this holy night, this eve of everything yet to be, we dream together of a way and a world so transformed by a single birth, by every single birth, that the myths and music of the ages dim in its holy blazing light. And we pray: may it be so.
The Second Sunday of Advent is a celebration of Love. Spend some time today focusing on your loved ones and then focus on how you, yourself, are loved.
You Are the Holiday Miracle by Gwen Matthews
As December opens up before us, we welcome in the gift of reflection. We turn toward our holiday celebrations and search for common threads of meaning.
We begin with Yule, the winter solstice, and we are invited to explore duality, cycles, and seasons, and to witness the Holly King being overcome by the Oak King. Yule reminds us that we all partake in the miracle of renewal.
Hanukkah, the festival of lights, commemorates a time of miracles when the faith of the Jewish people sustained them to reclaim their holy temple and keep the light of the menorah burning for eight days.
Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ humble birth in a manger, offers us to revisit the miracle of birth and the desire to find saviors to heal the scars of humanity.
Here, in our church, you are just as much a holiday miracle as the turning of the earth, as persistence and dedication to a faith, as the creation of each new life. We see the love you give to others, the space you create to hold one another’s joys and sorrows, and the generosity and spirit you entrust to this community.
You are the holiday miracle. This community is one of miracle-makers.
This week we celebrate the First Week of Advent in 2020. The Christian spiritual tradition is an important to UU origins and remains an important source of wisdom today.
Light the Candle of Hope
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the hear
Created by Ralph Roberts
WorshipWeb is delighted to offer these images, created by Unitarian Universalist (UU) minister Ralph Roberts, to count down the days in December to Christmas Eve (December 24).
“Advent is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the nativity of Jesus. The name derives from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming.” Marked over the course of the four Sundays before Christmas, Advent is traditionally celebrated with an advent wreath: a ring of evergreen with 3 purple candles and one pink one (or 4 purple candles) that represent: Hope, Love, Joy (pink) and Peace. ” – From the UUA Website
Here is a prayer from Cricket
In this time of waiting, may we hold the world in our hearts.
In this time of waiting, may we hold each other’s hands.
In this time of waiting, may we be thoughtful and introspective.
In this time of waiting, may we delight in the darkness and all it teaches us.
In this time of waiting, may we rekindle the fires of hope, love joy, and peace within ourselves and our communities.
In this time of waiting, may we become ready for the coming day.
“‘God did it’ isn’t an explanation,” said Joseph.
He got no account for the baby’s chromosomes,
No description of the mechanism that
Transmuted the divine shadow into royal blood.
“‘The devil made me do it’ would have sounded better to me,” said Joseph,
Though it never did him any good when he said it to his old girlfriends.
It was a mystery to him,
What moved him to listen for the rhyme
And puzzle for the reason
That Mary gave him the news in the manner that she did:
A mystery that put him at peace.
There was something in the way she held his hand
That no medical journal article could correlate;
Something in the way she gazed into his eyes
That eluded the grasp of genomic research.
“I don’t ask you to believe what I am saying,” she said,
“I don’t ask you to take my word for it.
I just ask you to love, as if.
Love me as if I were yours,
Love this baby as if he were yours,
As I love you as if you were mine.”
Love “as if” makes every child divine
Love “as if” fits all in David’s line
Love “as if” this love was meant for you
Love “as if” the Christmas tale is true.
“Use loneliness. Its ache creates urgency to reconnect with the world.”
— Natalie Goldberg
I know a little about “merry” meeting “mess” at the holidays — and by a little I mean How much time have you got?
Four Christmases ago, a painful break-up sent me spinning into a long tango with depression. Two Christmases ago, I came down with the stomach flu. Last year, as tears streamed down my face, friends cut off my long hair in preparation for my first round of chemotherapy. And this year? Like many, I’m grieving an election that, I believe, has already damaged the hearts and bodies of our country’s most fragile people.
I haven’t soured on the holidays, however — and I will not give up on Christmas — for two reasons.
First: long before my heart was broken and I lost my hair to chemo, I learned to shape the holidays to fit into whatever-shaped hole is in my heart.
At times, this has required ingenuity and vigilance. The holidays, laden as they are with traditions and sacred cows, can pull us into programmed ruts rather than genuine wonder. To ask, What do I truly need? and How can I claim my longing for joy? can happen only when we allow ourselves to practice vulnerability and take mindful pauses.
The other reason I won’t give up on Christmas is its central message: the Holy will never give up on us, her people. In fact, from Hanukkah to Solstice, that’s the message of most winter holy days: the Holy — call it God, call it The Force, call it Love’s Impulse — will never give up on us, even when we feel like curling up in a dark room and revoking our membership in the human family.
If I believe that your love will never let us go, I imagine saying to the Great All That Is, the least I can do is be your spy on the ground. I’ll keep watch for love, for compassion, for magic, for awe; and I’ll report back regularly, just to feel close to you.
Every one of you, Sugar Plums, has a story about the holiday blues: crisis, loneliness, wanting to give up. Telling our stories helps restore our wholeness. Tell yours. While you’re at it, form a plan for the coming weeks so that on the other side of this winter, you can look back and say, “Here’s how I made it gentler on myself, and here’s where I remembered that love will show itself, again and again.”
You reveal yourself to us in myriad ways, Gentlest of Ways, and at this time of the year you remind us that you’ll never turn away from us. Whether our hearts are merry or miserable, may our longing keep turning us toward you, and toward the presence of your Love among us.