Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holy Days and one particularly memorable

Doh! As Homer Simpson might say. In a brief article this morning in the newspaper, someone noted that "holiday" is, in fact, a short cut to "holy day", meaning that the whole "war on Christmas" kerfuffle is an uneducated, irrelevant rant, since to wish someone Happy Holidays is to honor the whole spectrum of religious observance. Of course. It's quite churlish of folks like Bill O'whoever and other oh-so-benighted neo-Christian talking heads to want to narrow the focus of this time of year down to their particular holy day, scorning the legitimacy of others' holy days. Ah well, I suspect we'll fight this battle for some time to come. It just seems so stupid.

Last night's Christmas Eve service was wonderful! Because we were dedicating 8 children, every family brought all the nearby grandparents and assorted friends, most of the regulars showed up as well, and the place was packed. We had to set up several rows of the uncomfortable metal folding chairs but no one complained, everyone sang with gusto, substituting the familiar words of the carols for the degenderized words of the SLT hymnal. We sang Silent Night as our two youth lit the candles for each row and the light grew brighter. There were lots of visitors who may come back, several out-of-towners here on a winter break, and thrilled parents at the dedication ceremony. And the bereaved wife of our beloved congregant was there, teary but present.

Our ceremony is that I tell what dedication means to a congregation and the symbolism of the rose and the water; our DRE explains what is in the tiny bags that she will give each child (a lump of sugar, bitter herbs, a Susan B. Anthony dollar, and seeds) and the significance of each item (you can probably figure it out yourself). Then each family steps forward, I ask "what is this young person's name?", the parents answer (or the kid, if s/he is willing), and I dip the rose bud in the water, which comes from our Water Communion ceremony, and say "I touch your head that you might learn to think clearly; I touch your lips that you might learn to speak truth; I touch your heart that you might learn to love deeply; I touch your hands that you might learn to serve others; and I touch your parents (or mom, or dad, or whoever) that they may always remind you how deeply you are loved. Welcome to the UU Congregation of Whidbey Island."

It never fails to evoke great joy in the sanctuary to see the children so welcomed. One little boy kissed the rose as it touched his lips; a soft sigh ran through the room. One tiny girl piped up with her whole full name before her folks even opened their mouths-----soft laughter. It was a wonderful evening.

6 comments:

LinguistFriend said...

Clearly you arranged a beautiful event last night. It awakens memories of the much less elaborate one at which Rev. Rick Davis (yup, now in the PNW. Salem, Or.?) dedicated my beloved god-daughter in a UU church in the San Fernando Valley.
My (ex-)wife tended to minimize her part of the relationship, since there was a functional mother, but the biological father did not have their address, since he was physically dangerous. Since noone in my family has produced a daughter in the past hundred years (clearly a genetic quirk), it was a new experience for me to start up regular contacts with a girl-child, just under two, I think, but quite verbal. She and I we had already found each other congenial company, which must have inspired the idea in someone. I have an intriguing picture of us years later under her family's Christmas tree, just after my wife moved from LA to Maine.
And now, still rather young, my god-daughter has had her own first child, with an interesting-sounding father, and I look forward to meeting the new family. Well, Reverend Kit, is it possible that one reason for the creation of faith in the world is that otherwise the simultaneous crossing of so many fingers and toes would make forward progress and accomplishment of anything impossible?
Merry Christmas!
LinguistFriend

Joel Monka said...

My beloved and I missed the Christmas Eve candlelight service- very similar to what you describe- for the first time since we've been together, and it made us kind of sad. It couldn't be helped- we'd been up for 27 hours traveling- but nonetheless it still hurt to miss it. *sigh*

ms. kitty said...

Rick Davis?! He's my friend and colleague and I know him well. How lovely that he dedicated your god-daughter, LF. Rick is a delightful guy, very perceptive and honest and engaging.

My own son was dedicated in December 1972 by the Rev. Leon Hopper, at Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colorado. Leon now lives in this district as well and I see him periodically. Quite the coup to have a child dedicated by Leon Hopper in his heyday.

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading your thoughts for several weeks - thanks so much for what you've shared. As I wander this UU journey I learn from many sources.

Blessed be...

Joyce

ms. kitty said...

Joyce, Joel, and LF, thanks for your comments. I have found many new friends and acquaintances through the conversations shared on a blog. Blessings to you all.

Berrysmom said...

I have tears in my eyes reading your description of the child dedication, especially the litle boy who kissed the rose. Thank you...

Our Christmas Eve was especially lovely this year, too, though not for any particular reason. Well, maybe it was the 8-year old boy who is having a really rough time this year--hates school, hates church, hates everyone. The only think he likes is his piano lessons. So we invited him to play the Music for Gathering as people were arriving, and he was great and wants to do it again!

Otherwise, just the usual magical evening...