Christmas weekend is upon us at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston, like millions of other churches around the world. The longing for peace and a spark of hope is always strong at this time of year.
Tomorrow there will be an engaging sermon by the Rev. Dr. Leonora Montgomery, Minister Emerita of Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church. (No, not the Bay Area in California, but in Clear Lake City, Texas, home of NASA’s Mission Control.) Well into her 9th decade of life, Leonora will speak of her pilgrimage toward God and invite us to entertain at least the possibility of God’s existence. Her journey took many turns over the years. Now she no longer worries about whether or not she is right. Instead she is satisfied that, having explored many options from childhood on, her beliefs stand firm.
That sounds good to me. Believe what you believe without worry. Explore at your own pace if you wish, but don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers. Who does? No one really knows all there is to know about God.
Christmas Eve at First Church offers a double header. At 5:30, a family pageant coordinated by our Religious Educator Natalie Browne will be a treat for all ages. Adults will ponder lovely messages and food for thought and the children and youth move us all into and through one of the most beloved stories of all: the birth of a child. Shepherds and magi and angels add layers of importance to this child’s birth. Did the people who paid their respects know what he would teach during his lifetime? Could they have imagined ideas so progressive to his time that he would someday be executed?
But at Christmas there is only the birth of this holy child, reminding us that “Each night a child is born is a holy night” (Sophia Lyon Fahs).
At 7 we’ll have a service of lessons and carols. Choirs will sing at both services, but at the second one we’ll have a brass quartet. What a fanfare! The Rev. Dr. Daniel O’Connell will deliver the homily.
Both services will end in the traditional way: with candlelight throughout the sanctuary and Silent Night sung into the darkened space. “All is calm, all is bright,” we sing with hope in our hearts even knowing that this world is chock full of sorrow and tragedy. On this symbolic night let the spirit of love flow through every heart.
The “Nativity of our Lord” carved in rock salt in the cathedral of Saint Kinga, in the salt mine of Wieliczka in Poland, 101 meters under the surface…
Sculptor of the figures: Mieczysław Kluzek
St. Kinga’s Chapel
Phote by Klearchos Kapoutsis