The December holidays of many faith traditions are about welcoming light into our lives. This is natural enough for people living in the Northern hemisphere; 88% of humanity resides there—and it’s where the axial religions all had their start. We celebrated Diwali last month, and the beginning of advent. Now we have Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice and Christmas, not to mention Kwanza. Billions of people across the globe are festooning their homes and gardens with brightly colored lights and lanterns, doing their part to drive away the steadily increasing darkness of December. This year, more than almost any other, darkness and gloom have permeated so many lives. The novel coronavirus has put a damper on all our activities and many of our joys.
I spoke with my niece on Thanksgiving. She is a nurse in Palo Alto, California and very much on the front lines throughout the pandemic. “What’s your prognosis?” I asked. “We’re excited about a vaccine,” she replied, always hopeful and optimistic. It was and remains my favorite thing to be thankful for: hope and optimism. Not just for a vaccine, but for our country and our world. That the creaky 18th century machinery of government somehow managed to keep bumping along…barely. Maybe it’s always been like that, but this year’s election threatened democracy in new and scary ways. But there were democratic champions, too: Brad Raffensperger and Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Anthony Fauci and Chris Krebs in DC. Authoritarianism giving way to (let us hope) cooperation makes it feel lighter already. But the cooperation must be maintained! Democracy is a full-time thing. And always up for grabs.
It will be months before it is safe to move around the way we could pre-pandemic. But people can begin to imagine it, which also feels lighter and brighter for everyone, no doubt and feels like a good way to begin the new decade. The virus has put everyone on hold, including many of our plans here at the church. Just keeping up and at ‘em programmatically has been a challenge—one we have met with grace and agility. There is a certain flexibility built into the Developmental Ministry program, but we’ve used up most of it coping with COVID-19. Now is time to refocus on how to make East Shore Unitarian Church truly shine. Also this month, I am rolling out an Action Plan to draw attention to the reality that I am now halfway through my tenure here at East Shore—and there is much to do to robustly fulfill our mission while simultaneously getting ready to call a new settled minister. Please look over the Action Plan and ask yourself, “Where can I plug in here?” Then share your interests with members of the staff or the Board—and get ready, once conditions warrant it—to jump back in. We need you! Just as Bellevue needs and continually revitalized ESUC!
All our Sunday worship services this December are about bringing light back into our lives and celebrating it joyously. Won’t you join us?
Joy to the World, Steve