opening presentsAs we enter this holiday season, the thoughts of many of us turn to gift giving and receiving. Certainly, the assault by advertisers on our senses, through print, TV and radio ads, offers their suggestions for what we should give or receive. The true gifts, though, are already there before us. As Unitarian Universalists, we should celebrate this season by remembering and acknowledging the gifts that others have given to us and the gifts that we give to each other. Nowhere is this more eloquently expressed than in the hymn We Sing Now Together, words by Edwin T. Buehrer.

We sing now together our song of thanksgiving, rejoicing in goods which the ages have wrought, for Life that enfolds us and helps and heals and holds us, and leads beyond the goals which our forebears once sought.

We receive the gift of knowledge and wisdom and foresight that our Unitarian Universalist predecessors left us so that we can create a faith that goes beyond even their wildest dreams.

We sing to of the freedoms which martyrs and heroes have won by their labor, their sorrow, their pain; the oppressed befriending, our ampler hopes defending, their death becomes a triumph, they died not in vain.

We receive the gift of inspiration from those who gave their lives to defend our faith and the principles for which we stand. People like Francis David, Michael Servetus, and James Reeb, who paid the ultimate price for their beliefs.

We sing of the prophets, the teachers, the dreamers, designers, creators, and workers, and seers; our own lives expanding, our gratitude commanding, their deeds have made immortal their days and their years.

We receive the gift of innovation and risk-taking from those Unitarian Universalist ministers and leaders who moved our faith forward through collaboration, partnerships, and teamwork. People like Frederick May Eliot, A. Powell Davies, and Homer Jack, who worked to bring people and groups together to strengthen Unitarian Universalism and its influence in the wider world.

We sing of community now in the making in every far continent, region and land, with those of all races, all times and names and places, we pledge ourselves in covenant firmly to stand.

We receive the gift of community within and across our Unitarian Universalist congregations, grounded by the promises we make to each other and lifted by the love and respect we have for each other.

Empowered and inspired by those who went before us, we move forward together as a great and powerful faith to fulfill their dreams, our dreams, and the dreams of those who will follow us. These are the gifts we give and receive this holiday season.

-Mark Bernstein, CERG Growth Development Consultant

About the Author
Mark Bernstein
Growth Development Consultant, Central East Regional Group (CERG) of the UUA. I believe that when congregations grow in strength and vitality and spirituality, they grow in numbers. It doesn't work the other way around. More information about me can be found on the CERG regional website www.cerguua.org