Christmas Greetings and Beyond

from Rev. John Marsh, Interim Minister 

First of all, let me wish you the merriest of the merriest. Remember that St. Nicholas, the man after whom Santa Claus is modeled, was one of the first Christians to be named a saint without dying the gruesome death of a martyr. He is remembered for being a nice guy—for giving one gift to one family on one occasion—not because they were related to him, but because it seemed like a nice thing to do.

The moral for us is obvious. We shouldn’t have to kill ourselves to observe the holiday season. We don’t have to provide a gift for every person on the planet with whom we are related. All that is required is that we should be a nice person.

And if any of you should bump into Donald Trump, please tell him from me that
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say
on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day. 

Second, let me thank all of you who have made a pledge to the church’s budget for 2018. When potential ministers look at a church, two of the most desirable things they can have are a balanced budget and to be paying all staff members fair share wages. “Go Green!”

Finally, let me invite you to a special gathering on Saturday night, January 6. Please mark your calendars. Now. Before you finish the next sentence. Have you done that yet? OK. We will share a potluck dinner (something like a chili cookoff). Then, before dessert, we will work on one of the essential tasks of the Interim Period: coming to terms with one’s history and appreciating one’s unique identity. To do this, we shall build a timeline. We will start with some facts: what buildings and ministers came and went, how much money was sent to Boston headquarters each year (they keep records, you know). Then we will count on you to color in these bare facts with side stories and shades of emotions on post-it notes.

We will keep the timeline up for three weeks so people can add to it, discuss it, scratch their hair, and wonder how much of it is true. Then I will preach a sermon about it, and then it will go away, and an echo of the thoughts will remain.

Onward, Rev. John Marsh

from theresa rohlck, Intern Minister 

I had been at UU Lansing about a week when I came in one day and saw an envelope in my mailbox. (“I got mail!” I silently exclaimed to myself.) It was a lovely handmade notecard from a congregant, welcoming me and offering support in my new role. I was struck by the quote on the front of the card, and I have kept it within sight on my office desk. It’s a quote from Rumi:
Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.

I love this quote. As we move into December, we can all aspire to be lamps. How can we bring light into a world and time that is not only literally dark – close to 15 hours of darkness a day – but metaphorically dark as well? Can we be inspired by our chalice, remembering its origins as an indicator of safer places for those oppressed? I believe we can, and we can take that inspiration further. What would it mean to be a lifeboat for someone, or a ladder? How can we listen to and be present for those who may need something to float on this season – a warm jacket, something to eat, assistance with a heating bill? Can our presence and care provide the rungs that allow someone to crawl out of despair or loneliness? Each of us can do this work one small step, one interaction, one act of kindness at a time. We can aspire to be lamps, lifeboats, or ladders, not just this month, but every month.

I look forward to my third month here as an intern. In the past, you probably saw your intern around all the time; the way this works for my seminary program is that we do our internship part-time, over two years (September – May). I commute from Ann Arbor, that “other” university town an hour and fifteen minutes south; I’m usually in the building on Wednesdays, Sundays, and some Tuesdays. I welcome conversations with any of you, in person or via email.

Blessings to each and all.