The Sunday of Joy

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?
Fledgling justice?
Elusive peace?
Reclusive hope?
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.


3rd Sunday in Advent

Advent is the season of waiting. In the Christian year, it is the four Sundays before Christmas. Each Sunday there is a candle lit. They symbolize Love, Hope, Joy, and Peace. This week is about Joy. The reading below found on the UUA Worship Web is about waiting and Joy. What are we waiting for? What are we Joyful about?
Season’s Blessings,
When Merry Meets Mess

“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.

Joy as a form of Resistance

This podcast is from December 22, 2016, brought to you from the Church of the Larger Fellowship. 

Joy is a great thing. When people tty to take away our joy, it is a powerful thing to celebrate joy. What little things bring joy to your life? How can you celebrate joy?

[The VUU] 164: Joy as a Form of Resistance via @PodcastAddict


PS: There’s some Santa business here, so little ears might not want to listen.
Image from

Sunday November 20, 2016: Joy in the Moment

Prelude: Morning Has Broken – Cat Stevens

Welcome: Look To This Day by Kalidasa

Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty
Are but experiences of time.
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day.

Chalice Lighting by Yvonne Aburrow

The chalice is the fullness of life’s experiences
And the emptiness of innocent openness to wonder
As we light the chalice flame
Let us explore the empire of the senses,
Let us celebrate experience and experiment:
the twin expressions of freedom, reason and tolerance. Continue reading

Sunday 23 October 2016: Joy in the Moment

Between our fears for the future and our regrets of the past, we often forget to find joy in the moment. This Sunday we will rejoice, and Lisa deGruyter will talk about spiritual practices for being in the moment.

We would love to have you come celebrate and worship with us.  Please join us  at the Progressive Women’s Association in downtown Clarksburg, WV at 11 am.

Children are welcome.  There will be an activity for children during the service, and a coffee hour afterwards.

The building is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible restroom.

Map (The building is behind the Harrison County courthouse; you can park in the PWA parking on the 2nd Street side or the Chase bank parking on the west side of the building.)

Miracles are everywhere

Sometimes we get caught up in the busy of the day to day. Sometimes our hearts get broken and we are discouraged. It is hard then to remember that being alive is a miracle.


There is a sky. There is an earth. There is a you. There is a me. There is an amazing  universe for us to discover.