Blog and Minister’s Message for December 2017

Rev. Jennifer Brooks


Rev. Jennifer Brooks


December is the month for hope.

We human beings hope most of the time, of course. Even in our day-to-day lives we hope. Maybe especially. We hope for good weather, or for the traffic to unsnarl, or for the old car to make it through one more winter. We hope the children are OK.

People long ago must have hoped for similar things. Good weather, certainly. Good hunting, perhaps. For the old horse to make it through another winter. For the children to be OK.

During December, it’s possible to see how the hopes of people today and the hopes of people long ago are connected. We can see those big hopes for the world; big hopes for each individual life.

Advent, Dec. 3-24, is from the Christian tradition. It’s often described as the “advent of hope.” Hope for peace. Hope for goodwill. Hope for a better life for all people.

Bodhi Day, the day of the Buddha’s enlightenment, is Dec. 8 this year. The Buddha sat for days beneath the Bodhi tree, and then one day understood how attachment keeps people from experiencing life fully. Whether it’s attachment to the losses of the past, or attachment to future outcomes, attachment keeps us from living life mindfully—keeps us from appreciating the good we experience in the here and now. The Buddha’s enlightenment gives hope to everyone who longs to grow spiritually and emotionally.

Hanukkah, in the Jewish tradition, this year runs from Dec. 12 through Dec. 20. It celebrates the miracle of the lights that lasted for eight days when they should have gone out after just one. The Festival of Lights gives hope to everyone who longs for a signal that persistence is rewarded.

Yule, or Solstice, is the pagan celebration of the longest night in the northern hemisphere—this year Dec. 21. It’s a celebration that arises from the turning of the seasons, which are as infallible now as they were long ago. It’s a celebration of the ever-fulfilled hope that darkness will give way to light; cold to warmth; a fallow season to a time of new life.

And we, in the here and now, watch the days shorten and grow colder. We remember the big hopes that all the religions of the world express. We decorate our homes with symbols of hope. We gather each Sunday to celebrate our free faith that invites people with different beliefs into beloved community—a community that encourages us to wonder, to grow, and to hope.