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December 2017

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!"

-Charles Dickens

 

Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever has not kindness has not faith.

 

- Prophet Muhammad

 

Chanukah is about the spark of the divine in all of us made in God's image.

-Suzanne Fields



The Winter Solstice is the time of ending and beginning, a powerful time -- a time to contemplate your immortality. A time to forgive, to be forgiven, and to make a fresh start. A time to awaken.

 

-Frederick Lenz

 

I celebrate the spirit of Christmas. It's the winter solstice celebration, rebirth and new possibilities.

 

-Ian Astbury

 

Holidays, economic frenzies, over consumption and the end of another year; here we go again…

 

-Gordon Clay Bailey

 

Each year, December brings a month filled with holidays, celebrations complete with a variety of gift giving traditions, and—to the glee of students and educators alike—school vacations. Before we fully engage this season Id like to suggest that we look closely at the traditions we hold near and dear.  How about discussing with your family and friends the rituals across cultural holiday traditions and most importantly the ways you as a family group celebrate them.

 

In what ways does holiday gift giving and merry making figure in the popular imagination through great literature that is re-read and performed year after year?

Trace your own traditions especially the practice of gift giving and big celebratory dinners.  Consider if common themes and elements can be found within the different spiritual traditions that form your on theology and make your connections to Unitarian Universalism richer, deeper, more meaningful.

 

As the holiday season has all ready engulfed us, we often find our world speeding faster past us. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the months, weeks and days from Halloween to New Years Eve for all that we have to do. We are trying to keep up with decorating, shopping, parties, and end of the year meetings, purchases that are on sale.  We try to keep up with the gift giving to family, friends and neighbors. We are so swamped with everything, that we often don't take the time for the true spiritual meaning of the holiday season.

 

So here is a little exercise, write down your affirmations or guidelines for what you want this season to be about. You can write it on a post-it note or an index card. Place it where you can see it. Place it on your bathroom mirror or in your wallet.

 

Examine what motivates you this season. Is it about keeping up with your gift giving friends? Is it about trying to out compete with them? Or, is it about bringing service and light to others? Is it about trying to make every persons party? Or. Is it about visiting someone that you haven't seen in some time? Is it about eating and drinking more, until you feel wasted? Or, is it about your quest for a deeper meaning in your values? Only you can examine this.

 

Work to control things that you can. In life their are things that you can control and those you can't. Focus on what you can. You can control binge eating and drinking. You can control arguments and bad language. You can control charity towards those in need. You can control over spending. You can control visiting a lonely family member, friend or neighbor.

 

For some, this is the loneliest time of the year. Look around you.  Are we missing a church member that hasn’t been seen in a while?   Has a friend or someone in your circle recently lost a loved one?  Maybe a divorce or breakup was in someone we know life recently?  Please do your best to seek them out and spend some time with them. Invite them over or take them shopping. Plan something that is constructive with them. If a person lives far away, pick up your phone and give them a call or at least try a text or message on Facebook.

 

Look for the good all around your life. Many people brace for the holidays, when they might be better off embracing the holiday season. Sometimes the smallest good can shine through to liven up your spiritual meaning of the season. You just have to look for it.  You might even need to give yourself a nudge?

 

Finally, take some time for yourself. Get away from everything for a few hours by yourself. Pick a place and time just for you. Schedule a block of time for your mind. Find a place to just relax and enjoy yourself. For some, it might be a few quiet moments in meditation. For others, it might be a stroll through the woods. This time, for yourself, will give you the opportunity to focus on the spiritual meaning of the holiday season.  So, here to a season filled with light and love.  May it be so for each of us!

 

Best of the season to us all,

 

Rev Gordon Clay Bailey