Message from the Minister

— by William Levwood, UUCT Minister

Hope for the Holidays

We are in the bustle of the holiday season!

What a fascinating time of year.  The memories of Thanksgiving are still with us.  Hanukkah and Chalice corresponded this year. Christmas and Kwanza and the New Year are fast approaching.

On our Facebook Sharing page there has been a rich discussion about Thanksgiving and its complicated and tragic history.  I encourage you to learn more about the history of Thanksgiving. This link might be a good place to start: A Thanksgrieving Reflection by Isabel Call.

Last week was the time to observe Chalica, a new seven day UU holiday for exploring our Seven Principles.  I had never celebrated Chalice before. In fact, I never had much faith in the holiday. I thought that a holiday needs to be rooted in a narrative, a compelling story.  Like the story of Hanukkah with the Maccabean revolt against empire and assimilation, or the story of Passover with the liberation from slavery. Or a moment in a story, like the birth of Jesus on Christmas or the resurrection of Jesus on Easter.  

But an amazing thing happened this year.  Thanks to our wonderful RE Guides my daughter made a chalice for Chalica.  She had so much fun making her chalice! Then a wondrous thing happened. On the second night of Hannukah, which was also the first day of Chalica, she asked me to tell her the story of Hannakuh.  Then she wanted to hear the story of Passover. Each of the seven days of Chalica is an opportunity to explore one of our UU seven principles. As I told my daughter the story of Passover I realized that it perfectly illustrated our first principle, the principle for that first day of Chalica.  In the children’s version of the principles, “each person is important.”

So for the rest of the week each day we lit her Chalica chalice and we explored another principle.  Exactly how you explore the principle for Chalica is left quite open ended. My daughter had come home with a guide with the principles in children’s language and some suggestions.  The third and fourth days were about learning. The transition to kindergarten can be stressful and my daughter wants to do things just right so we focused on keeping learning fun. Based on one of the suggestions from the handout we voted on what she would have for breakfast for the fifth day, putting into practice the fifth principle, “each person has a voice” in the children’s version or “the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process” in the adult version.  Normally it’s quite a struggle to determine what she wants for breakfast each morning so this was especially wonderful! The second principle in the children’s version is “be kind in all you do.” By the end of the week every time she or I did something kind she would hold up two fingers and say, “the second principle Daddy!”

It’s wonderful to have such an abundance of holidays to celebrate this time of year.  Thanksgiving with its focus on gratitude and spending time with family as well as the opportunity it provides to acknowledge and begin to come to terms with the horrors of our shared American story.  The daily lighting of Hanukah candles and Chalica chalices, lighting up the night during the darkest time of the year. Solstice rituals for Winter Solstice like the wonderful one at our UUCT Winterfest.  

I hope you will be with us for our upcoming services as we explore the meaning of advent, Christmas, and the closing of the year.  I know too that this can be a difficult time of year. Busy. Stressful. I know that it can bring back grief and loss for those who are no longer with us in the flesh.  Or it can bring up memories of past hurts. I hope that in the midst of all that this season brings you find your way to a new birth within your life. I invite you to contemplate what that might be.  It could be something simple, like my discovery of the richness of Chalica, or something even more unexpected or transformative. I invite you to make the holidays work for you. To embrace the possibility for transformative that is present in every holiday and, in fact, in every moment of our lives.

This message published in the December 16, 2018 issue of The Meridian.