Interdependent Web: Light a candle to begin

Interdependent Web: Light a candle to begin

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism.

Heather Christensen


Light a candle to begin

Alison Leigh Lily celebrates the winter rituals of her adopted Pagan faith—and then attends Midnight Mass with her family.

Sitting there in my mottled green sweater with sleeves short enough to show off my cascading blue Celtic-knot tattoo on my upper arm, my hair hanging in a single thick braid down my back and still smelling a little of incense and “seasonal berry” candles, I turned to look at the faces in the pews around me and caught the eye of the presiding priest, ancient and small in his billowy white and gold robes, sitting on the end of the very last row, looking thoughtful and tired, waiting for the prelude music to end and the midnight mass to begin. (Nature’s Path, December 11)

Justin Almeida writes that this year he cannot take refuge in the carols of his childhood.

There have been gunshots in the spaces I call sacred. I have been in the streets with people crying out, “no more killing!” . . . I look at my own son and wonder, “can he make this world a better place? Will this world let him?” And I hold out a ridiculous hope that it will, even knowing how powers and principalities have answered in the past.

My heart and spirit are so heavy right now. All I want is to just relax into this season and enjoy it like I used to. But there is too much work to do. God helps those who help themselves, right? I’m helping God; I really am. So where are you? (What’s My Age Again?, December 14)

The Rev. Chip Roush offers a lament for Blue Christmas.

My heart is aggrieved
by the thought of so many people
whose sorrows are made
all-the-more painful
by contrast with the glad tidings around them . . . .

[For] all these,
and for so many more
of my fellow human cousins,
who will experience
as much sadness as elation
during this season of celebration,
my heart breaks open,
my throat cries out,
and my eyes,
stung by tears,
look steadily into theirs
with compassion and solidarity. (So May We Be, December 16)

The Rev. James Ford prefers Christmas Jesus to Easter Jesus.

Among the Easter Christians they like to say you have to take it all together. Although when I do, I still don’t find their Christianity, a Christianity that turns from the teachings of Jesus right there in the texts as something to do right now and with great urgency, and instead toward a rather convoluted story about how to live forever, which is mostly a creation only tenuously connected to the scriptures. . . .

As we wind our way toward Christmas, I like to think it can be about that Jesus, not the Jesus Crucified and Resurrected, not the Easter Jesus, but the Christmas Jesus, the human Jesus, the good rabbi, who called us to a new world. His message was, best I can see, an apocalyptic call to reject greed, and hatred, and the illusion of separation. A bit crazy. A lot wonderful.

So, friends, in that spirit, let me be among the first to say Merry Christmas! (Monkey Mind, December 15)

Bending the arc with love

After a teenage arsonist sets fire to the UU congregation he attends, Thomas Earthman chooses to focus on the love that restores.

Damage is easy and pain is fast; building and rebuilding take time, and love is sometimes hard. There are still more people who choose the tougher path. As soon as a single person does a bad thing, teams of people are in route to do what they can to limit the damage and fix the problem. There are always more angels than devils, they just have the harder job. Human history shows us that the people doing good, building towards justice, and working with hearts full of love have always won out in the end. (I Am UU, December 17)

The Rev. Lois Van Leer shares a message of choosing hope in difficult times.

In these times, hope is a decision, love is a decision. If I have to choose what to give myself over to, the choice will be hope even if it will be harder to bear. It will demand things of me, of those who choose it. Hope requires our creativity and imagination to find a way out, a way forward.

In this season of darkness with its Mystery and gifts, in this season of day overcoming the nighttime hours, in this season of expectation, choose. Choose hope. And when you cannot hold it, let others of us carry it for you for a while. (Facebook, December 17)

It matters what we teach

The Rev. Tom Schade believes his UU faith formation is one reason he’s not part of Donald Trump’s angry fanbase.

Our work and mission are the religious tasks of evangelism and conversion. We must persuade people that to put one's faith in the promises of white supremacy is to build one's house on sands that will be swept away by history. We have to testify that our faith has not left us bitter and vengeful. We have to convert people.

It will be hard work.

But it matters what we teach the young. (The Lively Tradition, December 13)

Doug Muder explains humanism simply: it focuses first on loving our neighbors, rather than questions about God’s existence.

Let's all focus on treating each other well, making the world better, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, giving hope to the hopeless, and so on. After we've worked together on that for a while, then some evening we'll be sitting around the fire talking about what motivates us to do this work. That would be a good time to tell me about Jesus or Muhammad or Buddha or the Tao or whatever else gets you out of bed in the morning. (Free and Responsible Search, December 11)

John Beckett writes about respectfully navigating relationships with people of different faiths.

I’m married to a Christian. We get along just fine. I don’t have to affirm your beliefs and practices to affirm your inherent value and worth, nor to vigorously support your right to believe and practice as you see fit.

I will judge your religion based on how it inspires you to live your life and treat other people and the rest of the world, not on how closely it matches mine. (Under the Ancient Oaks, December 13)

The Rev. Jude Geiger publishes a sermon from earlier this year, “The Reverence of Doubt.”

Our faith may not offer us easy answers, but it does try to save us from the hard, unwavering rules we so often create for ourselves. It does free us to question and to wonder; never fully knowing. It does free us to be nimble with life. . . . Unitarian Universalism calls us to orient our living with a certain amount of wanderlust, a certain amount of being comfortable with uncertainty, and a deep sense of caring for the life around us. In short, the questions matter. The answers are never better than just good enough for now though. May we ever seek to have our minds a little bit untidy and our hearts left as wide open as we can dare to this moment. (Rev. Who, December 17)

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The offices of the Unitarian Universalist Association will be closed from 2:00 pm Thursday, December 24 until Monday, January 4. The Interdependent Web will return on Friday, January 8.