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chalice

Congregation of Unitarian Universalists

Gift of Change

Spiritual Celebration for Advent and the coming of Christmas:

    Opening Words:

      This is a time of year when we ask-and are asked-what do you want? We ask and we answer. We shop, we wrap, we ship. And the season usually comes and goes so quickly that we never really answer the question: What do you want? This can be a question for each of us to hold on to for a time in mind and heart. What do we want? Not what would we like, but what do we want to give us a deeper connection with life and to help us give expression to our deepest selves? Not a long list of things, but a sense of clarity that illuminates what it is we are doing and why.

      The old man with white beard and red clothes we see on the eve of Christmas and in the malls around the world has become a cultural icon of the consumer society of the third millennium. The smiling character that children love was forged over the last seventeen centuries, based on the story of a bishop who lived in the fourth century, named Nicholas, famous for the generosity he showed to the children and the poor. Can he help us with the gift of change?

    Lighting of the Advent Cnadles: Rev. Lindi Ramsden, adapted

      Advent is the season of preparation, and today we light candles in anticipation of new vitality and new possibilities.
        Let this First Candle be for faith, the trust that the foundation of life is good.
          Let this Second Candle be for hope, which renews our spirit and gives us strength to continue.
            Let this Third Candle be for love, which helps us to find the deepest meaning of human life.
              Faith, hope, and love: these candles symbolize the spark of divinity in each of us and in the web of life

    Prayer: (Followed by a moment of silent meditation)   Praise of Life

        Life, unfathomable plenty
          You carry us and imbue us and flow around us,
            You call us like everything into being and give everyone our time,
              That we may make use of it to come to know You,
                o encounter You in light and shadow.
                  We take and accept You and we are thankful.
                    Find us prepared!

    Joys and Concerns: : (We throw a small stone into this bowl filled with water, to symbolize our thoughts, which move in circular rings eternally, like concentric waves.)

      We invite you to share your joys and concerns since our last meeting
    Story for All Ages: Today we have a very special Story for all ages called " A Light For LUUcy" by by Connie Dunn  (the children go to Religious Education at the end of the story and the adults sing "Spitit of Life" )

    Hymn:   # 123  (STLT)   "Spirit of Life"   by Carolyn McDade (adapted)

      Spirit of Life, come unto us,
        Sing in our hearts all the stirrings of compassion.
          Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
            Move in our hands, giving life the shape of justice.
              Roots hold us close; wings set us free;
                Spirit of Life, come to us, come to me.

    Reading:

      In the quietness of this place and in the Spirit of this Community in which we share and find strength let us pray. Prayer cannot bring water to parched land, not stop a roaring flood, nor mend a broken bridge, nor rebuild a ruined city, but prayer can water an arid soul, change the tide toward, righteousness mend a broken heart and rebuild a weaken will.

    Discussion topic: Gift of Change

      Discussion: We have each had many holiday experiences in the past, and they often influence our perception of the holiday season now. Whether our experiences have been rewarding and pleasant, or disappointing and sad, we may expect more of the same this year. But whether the season has been difficult or easy for you in the past, imagine that this year it might become a time to abandon your expectations, let down your guard, and allow the whole experience to touch you deeply in a new way. Imagine the many experiences that come with the season: the people, conversations, and laughter the music and celebrations the smells and the tastes the colors and lights the hopefulness of the children and even the occasional chaos- and consider how they might bring a gift of lasting change in your outlook on life that you may not have dreamed possible before.

        1. What would you wish that change to be?

        2. Now imagine receiving that change as a surprise that springs up within you - see yourself as the wide-eyed child unwrapping something that they are sure to love. Why would this change be such a welcome gift?

        3. What change of heart or attitude might start to bring about this change in your life? Please do not make a "to do" list or strategic plan, but just reflect on where and how the change might begin.

    Extinguishing The Chalice:

    *Closing circle of hands: (unison)

    In the busy holiday season, let us remember the true gifts of the spirit. Let us feel the blessing of community and the sweet expectation of good things to come. And now we extinguish our chalice but not the light of hope: hope for change that brings new blessings into our lives and the lives of those around us.

    *Hymn:    Go now in Peace     

      Go now in Peace, Go now in Peace,
        May the Love of God surround you
          Everywhere, everywhere, You may go

* Please Stand as you are able and willing.