Enjoy the unique, rousing peace of Christmas Eve in this service crafted for children of all ages at 4:00. We will end the service with the traditional candle lighting. Come early (3:30 p.m.) to enjoy some hot cocoa and a story walk perfect for all ages.
We require masks in all buildings. We encourage all in person participants to be vaccinated. Read more about our In Person Guidelines here.
• To virtually attend, please Zoom in using room number 812 0434 8499, Passcode: chalice.
• To phone into the service, call 669-900-6833, Meeting ID: 812 0434 8499.
For those joining, please mute as soon as you enter the room, so everyone can hear. Please note, the services will be recorded, but at this time, there are no plans to share the recording.
Now a Unitarian Universalist Christmas is not so much about the Virgin birth of the son of God, although perhaps some Unitarians may in fact believe that. Rather, a Unitarian Universalist Christmas is a celebration about the everyday miracle of the birth of children, and the ways that they shape and reshape our lives, humbling us from preconception, about love and the power of relationships to make us who we are and who we might become.
You see, the story of Mary – the mother of Jesus – shows us – starting in the first chapter of Luke in the Bible – that parenting is a spiritual path. As is the nature of a spiritual path, if you allow it, it can humble you, reshape you, challenge you, and ultimately, if you claim it, if you say Yes to it, it will change you, this is the spiritual path. Cambia todo Cambia. Mother Mary in some stories can seem like a scared and obedient 15-year-old but in Mary’s song- the first chapter of Luke (1:46-55)- we are told of the Mary who, before gave birth to baby Jesus and when she was just learning that she would soon be a mother, was more like a rebel intent on reorienting unjust systems.
The first verses of Mary’s Song say: “My soul magnifies the Lord, [have magnifying glass] and my spirit rejoices in God!” Who has ever looked through a magnifying glass before? What does it do? [it makes things bigger]. Right, it makes things Bigger. So Mary’s saying, her soul, her spirit, is making God – this spirit of Life, the divine spark of Love – bigger, and she is rejoicing
The next few lines share how amazed Mary is; that she is reminded of Justice in how she is being treated. In coming to her, Mary sees that the universe – that God – doesn’t operate by rewarding those who are greedy; doesn’t reward those who are warmakers or who take from others over and over. Mary sees that God is making her a mother because he trusts in her nature. Mary doesn’t come from a rich family, and she isn’t famous, or popular, or a celebrity.
Mary’s song says the god that loves her, that seeks her out, is that same spirit of life that transforms injustice and oppression, is the same spirit that lifts up the lowly and that fills the hungry with good things. In fact, she knows hunger and need. She has learned patience, kindness, and generosity. She has learned gratitude, and all these are how you get closer to God you see. So, when the angel in her dream vision comes to her and tells her that she will have a son and he will be called Jesus, she is amazed and in awe. She feels full of the blessings of the great spirit of life. She has said yes to life! That is the teaching of Mary right there in her Song of Praise. Just as Mary gives birth to Christ, each of us is a midwife in our own life. What does your heart want to say yes to? For you, it might not be….for you there is something that you want to say yes to? Where can you find joy?
Joseph and Mary raised Jesus in the traditions of their Jewish faith. Jesus learned to read the Torah, a sacred Jewish book. As Jesus and Joseph worked side by side, they talked about religion. Jesus felt a strong connection to God. He began to sense that God had called him to bring people a new message of love and forgiveness. (Luke 14:6-7)
Jesus went on to study and learned how to share his voice and vision with the world. He learned how to speak up and inspire people to shine brightly in their lives, how to find joy and hope. Later, he traveled to tell people his ideas about living together in peace and love. He was passionate and prophetic and could help others change how they saw the world too. People who were sick often came to him, and he helped them feel better and the good News of Jesus as a healer and teacher spread. His belief in joy, hope, peace, and love was finally coming through! People were witnessing a great leader and were inspired to follow him. In these beginning days, we see glimpses of the world waiting to be born – one inspired by the power of relationships, starting with Mary and Joseph and then later, in others who would become Jesus’s chosen family. Just as Jesus studied and practiced and learned his beliefs from his family and faith, we can do so as well.
I like to ask myself – What are some of my special gifts? What was I born with being really good at, or thinking a lot about? What about the things that are really challenging to me? I’m guessing Jesus wasn’t good at everything, but we can save that for another time! Who in your life might be able to help you get stronger at sharing your gifts? Who in your life really inspires you? Is there someone that you look at and you just think “awesome!” as Jesus did to Mary all those years ago?
In all my long years of being in church, of knowing the Christmas story backward and forward, I never heard these verses emphasized. Where had Mary, the mother of Jesus, been all my life? It is through her song that we see the wisdom tradition that Jesus goes on to study and to preach and to heal and to organize. It is the tune of Mary’s song – the Mother, the Madonna – that Jesus comes to know and love.
Tonight, on the eve of Christmas, we don’t contemplate the significance of just one person, but rather, in the relationships that we each have, that Jesus and Mary had, that lift us up to become greater than we can ever be alone. Perhaps Jesus was a special soul, one of those people you encounter that change your life forever. And also, and also, he came from a family beloved and nurturing of a strong spiritual identity and values. When we look up into the night sky, as the angels, shepherds, and wiseman all did, we see many stars. Yes, some shine more brightly than others, but to make a constellation, you need many stars. Jesus was a bright Star In A Constellation – his holy family and beloved community.