December Ministers Column

Dear Ones:

I’m writing at one of those moments when it feels as if the congregational year is flying by! So much has happened since the late summer: Rev. Mark Kiyimba’s visit, homecoming picnic, new RE Assistant— Gina Campellone, Flamingo big band concert, Youth Group Benevolent Society, Halloween dance (with haunted house and pumpkin carving contest), Bible study, New Jim Crow book group, Antiracism 101, deci­sion to purchase solar panels, Day of the Dead, spoken word poetry with Chris D. Sims, Community Voter Project, Kristallnacht service at Charter Oak Cultural Center, Breakfast Club, Youth Group lock-in with youth from the Worcester UU, an amazingly successful holiday fair, Transgender Day of Remembrance, UUS:E Thanksgiving meal, and our deep sadness at the deaths of Al Dickinson, Emily Barlow, Kathy Murphy Sulli­van (Jack Murphy’s sister) and Frances King Sawyer (Fred Sawyer’s mom). There’s a lot more but those are the things that immediately come to mind. It has been a full autumn!

While I don’t expect the pace of congregational life to slow down, I do hope to practice what I preach in this holiday season and find time for me personally to rest and reflect. I hope you can do the same. I suppose I’ve said it before, but the holiday season is also a dark season—a season when the frozen ponds, bare trees, first snows, empty fields, and long, dark nights beckon us to turn inward, to ponder the shape our life has taken over the past year, and to begin looking forward to the shape our life will take in the coming year.

While the Christmas story in the Bible focuses on the birth of Jesus, I love imagining the time before the birth. I love imagining Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem—before the inn, before the stable, before shepherds in the fields, before the heavenly host singing “peace on earth and good will to all.” I imagine a dark and lonely road. I imagine solitude. I imagine a time for reflection and anticipation.

Christmas Day will come. The solstice will come. The midwinter celebrations will come. The turning of the year will come. The pace of congregational life will continue, I’m sure, as it has—brisk, full, vibrant! But for now, though this season can feel frantic and stressful, full of joy and, for some, full of gloom, let us remember it is also dark. Let us remember: the season itself urges us to slow down, to journey well, to reflect on what has been, and to prepare—slowly—for what is coming.

I wish the very best in this holiday season.

With love,

Rev. Josh