Enter, Rejoice, and Come In

A Religious Education Message from Gina

Dear Friends,

I love the winter holiday season. I love the lights— both the bright, colorful ones and the soothing, subdued white ones. I love our family’s annual trek to the nursery to choose the perfect Christmas tree, and I love the way its fresh, balsam scent fills our home for weeks to come. I love baking the special treats that I only ever make at Christmas time—Italian wine biscuits and Magic Cookie Bars. I love addressing holiday cards, crafting handmade gifts, filling mason jars with goodies, and packaging them up with ribbon to be surreptitiously delivered to the doorsteps of loved ones. And what I love most of all is gathering together to celebrate with family and dear friends.

Of course, figuring out how to safely celebrate the holidays during a global health pandemic requires some creative adaptations. Initially, the prospect of not being physically together with all of my family felt unbearable. But after shedding some tears of anger, frustration, and sadness, I’m now much more at peace with the situation. While not ideal, I’m grateful that there are options for virtual connections via Zoom or Facetime. Such technology has served as a lifeline in keeping families, friends, classrooms, and congregations connected over the past eight months, and I know that our family will rely on it heavily this holiday season.

Many of UUS:E’s beloved holiday traditions must also be reimagined and adapted this year. Some events, such as community caroling, the Youth Group’s trip to Bright Lights, and the RE program’s annual celebration of Hanukkah with latkes and applesauce just can’t happen this year. While other traditions, like the fair, the Holiday Music Service, and Christmas Eve worship have been adapted to take place virtually. And, if there’s a silver lining to be found, it’s that having to cancel some traditional holiday events has inspired us to create some new ones!

We hope that you will join us in December for some (or better yet, all) of the following events:

Sunday, Dec. 6 at 7 PM: Holiday Story Time! Put on some comfy jammies, get yourself a bedtime snack, and cozy around your computer screen as Rev. Josh, Gina, and Heather share with you some of their favorite holiday books.

Sunday, Dec. 13 at 10 AM: In keeping with December’s ministry theme, “stillness,” we’ve created a virtual worship service based on the story of Julian of Norwich, whose propensity for stillness allowed her to hear some very special messages from God, including the most well-known message, “All shall be well.” The story will be brought to life with the artwork of one of our Junior Youth, Sadie Nitzan.

Sunday, Dec. 20 at 10 AM: Our wildly popular Holiday Music Service goes virtual! Mary Bopp and the Music Committee will bring us the magic of the season with musical selections, both vocal and instrumental, performed by UUS:E’s talented musicians, including kids and families! It’s not too late to be a part of it. Contact Mary Bopp if you’d like to submit a video.

Monday, Dec. 21: Celebrate the first day of winter with a Winter Solstice Make & Take activity pack. Make & Take packs will include a lesson about Solstice, a cool craft, and a sweet treat, Packs will be available to pick up from UUS:E in advance. Sign up is required! More info will be forthcoming.

Thursday, Dec. 24: Christmas Eve worship, including a virtual Christmas Pageant starring all of YOU! At least we hope it will be starring all of you! Unlike our usual “no rehearsal pageant,” which requires your actual presence on Christmas Eve, this one will be filmed in advance. The more folks who participate, the more fun it will be. Please consider participating! Keep an eye out for details coming soon!

Love and blessings to all this holiday season,

Gina

Gina Campellone, Director of Religious Education