We gather together this morning as best we can to restore in one another’s company a sense that we are anchored in hope during a season of cold and more solitude than we may be used to or comfortable with. Together, we remember and proclaim that are more when we are gathered: wiser, more resilient and more able.
Prelude: Here Amid the Shady Woods, G.F. Handel. Diana Pavao, voice, Anna Kojovic-Frodl, piano.
Chalice Lighting: words by Lisa Doege
Our ancestors got it right. The bonfires and the candles and the evergreen boughs and the libations and the songs and prayers – all these bring light, if not the sun itself, into the deep darkness of winter. The actual light of the fires and candles and the spiritual light of hope and joy. Because though we can not hasten the sun’s return, we can bring the light. And so, as we light our chalice this morning, we do.
Hymn #347 Erica Eddy / Stuart Bard. Lynn Orlando, Piano.
Message For All Ages:
Centering Words Winter Solstice by Rebecca Parker
for a moment
the typewriters will stop clicking,
the wheels stop rolling
the computers desist from computing,
and a hush will fall over the city.
For an instant, in the stillness,
the chiming of the celestial spheres will be heard…
Stunned to stillness by beauty
we remember who we are and why we are here…
Time of Stillness and Reflection
Reading: from When God is Silent
In a world of too many words, silence affects people who are no longer affected by sound. Plenty of us who are defended against sound have no defense against silence. Some of us love it and some of us flee it. That is because silence can mean anything. If you come into a room where I am sitting and we do not speak, it could mean we do not know each other. It could mean we know each other so well that words are not necessary. It could mean that one of us is angry at the other, or that one of us is leaving and we are both too sad to speak. It could mean we both know the room is bugged. It could mean I am asleep.
Context is everything. The silence of a monastery is to be expected. It is one of the reasons people go there, to bathe in that quiet pool of no sound. The silence of an empty house after a divorce is something else again. Remembered voices can become ghosts that make the hair rise on the back of the neck. Turn on the television, someone. Bang pots and pans so that the silence cannot speak.
Illness is often quite silent. In between the visitors with thermometers and bouquets, there are long stretches of silence to face without the usual distractions. One may dull them with medicine or stay awake to feel things one has never felt before. The weight of flesh. The beat of blood. The way air comes in the body cool and goes out warm, heated in the chest in the space of each breath.
In his poetic eulogy The World of Silence, the French philosopher Max Picard says that silence is the central place of faith, where we give the Word back to the God from whom we received it. Surrendering the Word, we surrender the medium of our creation. We unsay ourselves, voluntarily returning to the source of our being, where we must trust God to say us once again. In silence, we travel back in time to the day before the first day of creation, when all being was still part of God’s body. It had not yet been said, and silence was the womb in which it slept.
Hymn #1015: I Know I Can
Reflection: Finding Stillness Despite the Cacophonies of Life, Rev. Eric Meter
The Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church is a community of generosity and abundance. Especially now, in this challenging time, your generosity is what keeps this community as vital as it is, a beacon of respectful engagement and faith in the power of love.
Each month we share the generosity of our collection with a local partner. Our outreach partner for December is the Health Care Network of Racine County which makes quality medical, dental, and social services available to all county residents.
For more information on how to donate to OBUUC and Racine’s Health Care Network, please visit our church website, obuuc.org.
Benediction: words adapted from those by Scott Tayler
When the winds of your daring days begin to swirl,
May you find your breath.
May you remember that still point inside
That is always waiting to welcome you back home.
And from that place of sacred peace,
May you be an anchor of calm
For those who need it as much as you.
Go in peace
Go in love
Postlude: May Nothing Evil Cross This Door, Diana Pavao, voice, Anna Kojovic-Frodl, piano.