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December 24, 2007: “Xmas Songs of the Soul”

Opening Words
Christmas Children
by Edward Frost

I suspect that the Christmas Spirit is Memory–
Personal, yet universal,
Shared collections of shards of other days
Pieced together in this season by common consent,
making the otherwise commercial venture religious,
Communal,making it Holy as,
by Memory we are re-created,
Born again.
So the bittersweet of this time,
Since Memory and that recalled are, at best,
Mixed blessings.
I sit before our Christmas tree
With years of former selves gathered,
Chattering of how it was in their time
Asking ‘Remember when…?’
At Christmas, I am with all my children,
all my years of former selves come home
who have sung carols, opened presents,
given gifts of perfume and after-shave,
who lay listening through sleepless Holy Nights.
All my children crowd and dance about
as I hurry from place to place,
clutching, tugging, plucking, holding, shouting
‘Wait, wait, look, look …
Remember when we…?’
My children, my spirits of Christmas Past
who make of all my seasons One.
I tell them stories.
They tell me truths
in sweet innocence of truth’s pain.
My family of self, reunited,
Come bringing gifts of Memory,
too young to know the sadness of
too much memory, unwrapped.
We sing together at Christmas,
I and all my children.
Voices above distant murmurings from other rooms.
And another child is born.
Christmas Children
by Edward Frost

by David Rhys Williams

On this blessed day let us worship at the altar of joy, for to miss the joy of Christmas is to miss its holiest secret. Let us enter into the spiritual delights which are the natural heritage of child-like hearts.
3 Let us withdraw from the cold and barren world of prosaic fact if only for a season.
That we may warm ourselves by the fireside of fancy, and take counsel of the wisdom of poetry and legend.
Blessed are they who have vision enough to behold a guiding star in the dark mystery which girdles the earth;
Blessed are they who have imagination enough to detect
the music of celestial voices in the midnight hours of life.
Blessed are they who have faith enough to contemplate a world of peace and justice in the midst of present wrongs and strife.
Blessed are they who have greatness enough to become at times as a little child.
Blessed are they who have zest enough to take delight in simple things;
Blessed are they who have wisdom enough to know that the kingdom of heaven is very close at hand, and that all may enter in who have eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand.
–David Rhys Williams

Reading 2. Dr. Rebecca Parker, who is both a Methodist and a UU minister and President of our UU Seminary Starr King in Cal writes from the August Religious Education journal REACH, a service is entitled “We Are The Dwelling Place” in a poem entitled:

“You Have To Know Your Body As The Home Of God”

You have to know your body
as the home of God
And this is the purpose of Christmas.
The rose blossoming in the wilderness
is the unfolding of your pleasure
as the fingers peel an orange
and sweetness buds in the mouth.
The bright star in the night sky
is the sudden clarity of your instinct for joy.
The birth cry in the night/is your child,
falling into the dark,/and your arms holding her.
The terror of Herod’s murderous intent
is your rage that would prefer death/to change.
The singing angel is your voice at church,/not sure of the tune
but certain, for a moment, that/there is glory.
The animals, breathing their warm breath
in the fragile stable are your emotions/kneeling into the body of earth
at ease in the presence of God.
Mary is you /God in your body.
Joseph is you/sheltering God in the world. This is the key
to the mystery,The Word became flesh./We are the dwelling place.’
‘Xmas Songs of the Soul’
Xmas Eve 2007
Optimist vs. Pessimist
Christmas Santa

A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks. If one felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold. If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up. Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom and gloom pessimist.

Just to see what would happen, on the twins’ birthday their father loaded the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game. The optimist’s room he loaded with horse manure.

That night the father passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly.

“Why are you crying?” the father asked.

“Because my friends will be jealous, I’ll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I’ll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken.” answered the pessimist twin.

Passing the optimist twin’s room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure. “What are you so happy about?” he asked.

To which his optimist twin replied, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Xmas is a time to be optimistic, think of what greatness came from the humble birth from an unwed mother ina lowly stable. The world was changed, maybe yet will be saved bu the Xmas message of love, Justice, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and bringing peace to a war and hate torn world

Xmas spirit can last longer if we decide. Rev. Jane Rzepka is Senior Minister at the Church of the LargerFellowship called A Small Heaven. She grew up in this church and some for you remember her.

“The newsletter editor of the First Parish (Unitarian) in Wayland, Massachusetts, recently ran her favorite New Yorker squib:

‘IMPORTANT NOTICE. If you are one of the hundreds of parachuting enthusiasts who bought our Easy Sky Diving book, please make the following correction: On page 8, line 7, the words ‘state Zip code’ should have read ‘pull rip chord.’ – Adv. in the Warrenton, (VA) Fauquier Democrat’

I worry about things like this during the Christmas season. Had I been a parachuting enthusiast, and had I breezed through Easy Sky Diving during the month of December, I’d still be flying through the air, picking up speed, shouting my Zip Code.

Zip codes aren’t important. Rip cords are. During the Advent season, it’s all too easy to confuse one for the other. The “zip codes” of the season- the replacement bulbs, the four sticks of butter, the fruit-by-mail catalogs, the party shoes- have our attention, and before we know it, we’re picking up speed and shouting out those “Zip codes” without ever asking why.

Perhaps we should look to our rip cord. Our lifelines, in December as always, are our inner quiet, the love we exchange, and our efforts to make the world more whole. We can slow the descent. We can take in the view. And we can anticipate a gentle landing on the 25th.”

During this time of travel, as I wait to hear
whether my youngest daughter arrived tonight,
we pray for gentle landings for all our loved ones for our soldiers,
and for all people at his time. Xmas should be a song in the soul a xmas carol we love to sing, bringing back memories of family and of church of the deep religion of community.
A Xmas prayer by my colleague, Sam Trumbore
Whether co-eternal or created,
Whether 100% God and 100% human, or human promoted to God,
Jesus’ message for our lives
is what matters the most.
Expand your love beyond yourself,
Beyond your family, your neighbor, your tribe, your nation,
toward its ultimate source.
Care for those you believe to be less than you.
Feed them. Clothe them. Shelter them.
Live unattached to your wealth and possessions,
Share them. Give them away.
Work to create a world of justice, equity and peace on earth.
Let us grow in wisdom, character and virtue
by following Jesus’ great example.

Our UUA President’s holiday message: Bill Sinkford

. When I hear that nearly 4,000 U.S. troops and as many as a half million Iraqis have been killed for a war that began with a lie, I get angry. I can’t believe the number of injured troops coming home, and I can’t even fathom the number of injured people trying to make it through another day in Iraq. And when I hear that the money spent on this violence in one month is enough to completely rebuild New Orleans, or that the money spent in one week could provide three meals a day for nearly an entire year for 6 million children’the same number who die each year from malnutrition’I am ready to fight. I can’t sit still when I hear these things, and I hope you can’t either, because that is a righteous anger. My prayer for those with the power to beat swords into plowshares is expressed beautifully by Jill-Beth Sweeney Schultheis in her poem, “Remember Peace”:

We will hold you until you soften.
We will love you until you begin to melt.
We will sing to you until you remember peace.

During this holy season, may we all work together to nurture hope and to remember peace. Let us sing to each other until we remember peace. Most of us come out of traditional religion because we didn’t believe certain doctrine and dogma, b ut we held on to the great teachings OF Jesus while we discarded much of the teachings ABOUT Jesus and God. We can still love the metaphors and myths, the stories and songs, but most of all we love the holy spirit of this season which is love and peace, good will to all, no exceptions!

Invocation In the Spirit of Christmas
…In tribute to the spirit of Charles Dickens (C) By the Rev. Lauralyn Bellamy
In the Spirit of Christmas Past,
let us gather to listen and learn
the ancient stories –
In the Spirit of Christmas Present,
let us gather to view and question
the way things are –
In the Spirit of Christmas Future,
let us gather to dream and to plan
the way things will be –
[Included in the volume, Rejoice Together!, Skinner House Books, p. 35]

Peace on Earth, Good will to all, Feliz Navidad and Vaya con su Dios, or, go with your idea of God and Jesus in your heart, living love.

Let us light our candles from each other-
Born This Day
A light is born this day,
A light to change the world;
Come let us celebrate by lighting.

A dream is born this day,
A dream to change the world;
Come let us celebrate by dreaming.

A word is born this day,
A word to change the world;
Come let us celebrate by reading.

A thought is born this day,
A thought to change the world;
Come let us celebrate by thinking.

A love is born this day,
A love to change the world;
Come let us celebrate by loving.

A life is born this day,
A child to change the world;
Come let us celebrate by living.

A song is born this day,
A song to change the world,
Come let us celebrate by singing.
– A. Severance