In many Latin American countries we celebrate Las Posadas, a pre-Christmas tradition recreating the arduous journey of Mary and Joseph fleeing from violence and seeking refuge. In the United States, many churches incorporate this tradition as an expression of solidarity with all immigrants and refugees. We are reminded that we are a living sanctuary and a welcoming congregation. Rev. Dr. María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa preaching.
We encourage masks in all buildings. Read more about our In Person Guidelines here.
• To virtually attend, please Zoom in using room number 989 3107 9078, passcode: chalice.
• To phone into the service, call 669-900-6833, Meeting ID: 989 3107 9078.
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.
Religious Education for children and youth happens during worship on Sundays. Children and youth arrive in the Sanctuary for the just a little bit and welcome in Sunday with a story and song. Then, they attend their own programs in the Education building. Learn more here!
If you don’t have a chalice, but want to light one, check out our Making a Chalice at Home page.
In person services are followed by coffee hour.
The Winter Solstice is upon us in this Northern Hemisphere, while back home in Chile, the people prepare for the Summer solstice. Growing up, we looked forward to this time of year when classes ended and school vacation began. In my humble neighborhood, many families didn’t have enough to buy individual presents for each family member. So the neighbors would get together, pool resources, and distribute presents from the back of a beat up pick up truck. They made sure everyone, especially the little ones, got a present. They were usually hand made toys like spinning tops, dolls made with wooden spoons, kites made with tissue paper and bamboo, pinwheels, marionettes, and horses made of brooms. The street was adorned with lights and all the doors were open so we could go from one house to the other to greet our neighbors and in hopes of getting some sweets. At home we made nativity scenes using cotton to simulate the snow we had never seen. At midnight mass, we sang Noche de Paz, Noche de Amor: Eve of Peace, Eve of Love (not silent night) as we lit candles and lined up to kiss the image of the newborn baby Jesus. Those were good times, peaceful times, that would not last very long. But I hold on to those memories, to the feeling of excitement at seeing the lights and the joy of being part of a community. It’s important for me to remember the street, the people, the lights, the laughter, the sweets, the celebration of life, and the peaceful feeling in my heart. Those memories gave us hope when hope was hard to find.
Years later, I found myself celebrating Christmas in the Bronx, with real snow, surrounded by stores filled with toys, and living on the fifth floor of an apartment building where no one seemed to know their neighbors. So, I knocked on the door of Mrs. Jean Rodriguez who lived across the hall. She invited my mother and I to tea and I got to taste my first bagel with cream cheese and powdered donuts. Yummmm! Mrs. Rodriguez was a widow living alone, having lost her husband of 50 years. She spoke Portuguese, we spoke Spanish and somehow we understood each other. Her face lit up remembering all the trips she and her husband had enjoyed together and showing us beautiful slides of them smiling in Portugal and Spain. There we were – perfect strangers: She on a journey filled with grief for the loss of her beloved husband; We on a journey filled with grief for all we left behind in Chile. Yet both willing to risk knocking on the door and to risk opening it wide to let kindness and joy in. We ended up singing “Silent Night” together: She in Portuguese, we in Spanish and at that moment, with the snow falling, my heart was filled with joy by a stranger. A stranger that became a friend and the reason that holy night the Bronx began to feel a little like home.
Today, as the wheel of the year marks another turn around the sun, I think of all the people who are far from home, who are losing hope, who are grieving and afraid, who are treated as strangers in their own land. I think of the children who instead of toys receive bombs. And I remember that over 200 years ago, our beloved christmas carol “Silent Night” was heard for the first time during midnight mass at St, Nicholas Church in a little village in Austria. Written by a Catholic priest, Fr. Joseph Mohr who was born in extreme poverty, in a city in ruins. He developed a passion for music and played the guitar, the violin, the organ, and loved to sing. He became a priest at 23 and began serving a rural parish described as a place “where winter was never ending and summer rarely showed its face.” A place where people suffered hunger and tuberculosis was widespread. In the aftermath of war and after he himself developed tuberculosis, he wrote Silent Night. Imagine, to have witnessed the horrors of war, to be deathly ill, and to give the world a poem about peace. “Today Silent Night is sung all over the world in more than 300 languages. It is said to have inspired a truce during World War I.
On Christmas Eve 1914, British and French troops were encamped in trenches in a faceoff against German troops in Flanders, Belgium. The two sides began singing Christmas carols to each other, and “Silent Night” was the only song all the soldiers knew.
Singing the song together broke the ice and led to a temporary cease-fire with soldiers from both sides meeting in the middle of “No Man’s Land” to trade tobacco and candy, play soccer and sing carols.” [Excerpt from article by Rihard Szczepanowski, National Catholic Reporter, December 2018]
When I think about the birthplace of Jesus, about babies being born and children dying as they are now being showered with bombs instead of holiday lights and pretty little wooden horses, I sing Noche de Paz Noche de Amor as a prayer, I sing Noche de Paz, Noche de Amor as a lament, I pray for peace,
Today I join my colleagues, clergy from all denominations, and people from all over the world in calling for a ceasefire in the very land where love continues to struggle to be born.
Beloveds, I have said it before: Music saved my life. And also the kindness of strangers. May we continue to sing a song of peace in the face of war and destruction. May we find our song when we most need it, especially when we are in pain and struggling, and share that song of peace with those whose homes are in ruins, those who are on a journey escaping violence, those who have nowhere to go. Let us raise our voices in protest and song as a prayer, sending our loving energy to all who need a truce, a moment of peace, a reason for hoping. Let us sing together as we bring to mind and heart all who might be contemplating the aftermath of devastation, living on the edge, on skid row, feeling isolated, struggling to see and feel the light and warmth of human connection. Let us sing with joy, for joy is also resistance against war and destruction. Amen. Blessed Be!