Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains, NY
Spirituality   ·   Compassion   ·   Service
December issue of On the Journey: Grace -- Click HERE
This week's post from the Sabbatical Minister HERE
Practice of the Week: Live by the Truths of Life, Death, Actions, and Suffering
1. The rarity and preciousness of human life. 2. The absolute inevitability of death. 3. The awesome and indelible power of our actions. 4. The inescapability of suffering. If you think about these four points long and hard enough, it will change your outlook on life, and you will have found the motivation to begin again. READ MORE
This Sunday, Dec 29, children and youth begin in the worship service at 10:00am and then will leave for an activity. Lyra Harada is introducing musical instruments for fun and spiritual expression. Laura Goodspeed and Laura Sehdeva are assisting. Upcoming events: on Fri Jan 3 the Youth Group will not meet.... READ MORE 
Upcoming Worship Services
Sun Dec 29, 10:00am
"The Grace of Beauty and Tragedy"
Rev. LoraKim Joyner
We will reflect on how we deal with overwhelming beauty and tragedy in our lives. We open our hearts to both, what we might call grace, so that we can be liberated and liberate others. Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner is a CUUC community minister, wildlife veterinarian, and co-director of One Earth Conservation.   
Sun Jan 5, 10:00am
"A Singing Revolution"
Rev. Kimberley Debus
The tools of resistance are many and varied, but none is so beautiful as many voices raised in song. We will hear stories of musical resistance and learn some new songs to inspire our work to love the hell out of this world. Rev. Kimberley Debus is the CUUC sabbatical minister. 
Our YouTube Channel has videos of many past services. Check it out HERE!
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In the Community 
Kwanzaa Celebration, Fri Dec 27, 2:00pm, Thomas H. Slater Center, 2 Fisher Court, White Plains
The annual celebration, sponsored by CUUC and others. Come enjoy music, dance, and food while supporting our community outreach. See flyer HERE. Contact: Barbara Mair ( 
Bring a Treat this Sunday 
Cooperative Coffee Hour, Sun Dec 29, 11:15am
We invite everyone to bring along a snack to help fill our table for this Sunday's Cooperative Coffee Hour. Then pitch in to help us set up, serve, and clean up together. Many hands make light work!  
Opportunities for Giving - Last Sunday
Personal Items for Shelter Residents: We collect new men's and women's socks, underwear, and toiletries throughout December for residents of local shelters. Our last collection is this Sunday. Contact: Ray Messing (
Last call for our Mitten Tree: Decorate our tree with your final donations of mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves for all ages and sizes for the men, women, and children at local shelters.. 
Holiday Office Hours
The CUUC office will be closed and staff will be on vacation through Wed Jan 1. Happy Holidays!   
Science & Spirituality
Science & Spirituality, Thu Jan 9, 11:30am, Fireside We meet the second and fourth Thursday to discuss books and articles on the intersection of spirituality and science. Join us! Contact: Barbara Mair (
Wise Aging Group  
Wise Aging Group, Fri Jan 10, 2:00 - 4:00pm, Fireside  
This is a chance to reunite the group that met in 2019, and also for new people to join us who'd like to share the process of aging with one another. We come together to support and be supported, share our stories, listen, and in the growing winter's light, celebrate just a bit. Contact: Rev. LoraKim Joyner ( 
Environmental News 
While The Ocean Cleanup Project makes progress out at sea, they are also proactively collecting plastics via "interceptor" barges at select rivers. Rivers are the largest sources of ocean plastic debris. The Ocean Cleanup Project plans to deploy the interceptor barges by 2025 to the 1,000 rivers that are responsible for 80% of ocean plastic. Visit YouTube to view a 2-minute video that explains the river interceptor barge HERE. You may also view a 12-minute video HERE that reports on the December 2019 haul at Vancouver Harbour in Canada, and explains how the plastics debris can fund The Ocean Cleanup Project operations . 
Faith Development Friday 
Faith Development Friday, Fri Jan 17, 6:15pm Pizza & Salad Community Dinner; 7:00pm Programs  
Our evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community. Programs include "Habits of the Heart" Adult RE, separate Adult and Children's Journey Groups, and Youth Group. RSVP to by 12:00 noon Fri Jan 17 so we will have pizza for all.
GA Registration Open  
UUA General Assembly, Jun 24-28, Providence, Rhode Island
Registration is open for Unitarian Universalist Assoc General Assembly 2020 in Providence, RI. Rates are lower now and there is a payment plan. Join us for 5 days of learning, community, worship, and doing the work of the association. Rooted, Inspired, & Ready!  
From the Refugee Resettlement Team 
Please thank Mayor Tom Roach for submitting a letter to the Trump administration stating that White Plains will continue to accept refugees. The letter is in response to Executive Order 13888 issued in Sept that requires state and local leaders to affirm in writing that they are willing to accept refugees into their states. Call Mayor Roach's office at 914-422-1411, or submit an email HERE. Also thank Mayor Noam Bramson of New Rochelle, who has sent a similar letter. Call his office at 914-654-2150, or email
Share the Plate for December: Coachman Family Center   
The recipient of half our non-pledge collection this month is the Coachman Family Center. Located in downtown White Plains, the Coachman is a 100-room shelter that provides housing, healthcare, and services to local families in need. The center is affiliated with Westhab, a nonprofit organization serving Westchester County.  
Caring & Sharing Circle
If anyone knows of another among us who is in need of a caregiver, please contact Julie Gans (914-937-7899, or Joan Traber (914-617-9622, Or you may contact the CUUC office (914-946-1660 x2,
This Week at CUUC
The full calendar can be found HERE. Room numbers subject to change; please check the board on Sunday morning. To reserve a room or Zoom online meeting, contact the CUUC office (914-946-1660 x2,
Friday, December 27 - Office Closed 

Saturday, December 28 - 9:00am Rental: Exercise (Fireside); 10:00am Zen (43); 10:15am Overeaters Anonymous (21)

Sunday, December 29 - 9:30am Nursery Care (32); 10:00am Worship (Sanctuary); 11:15am Coffee Hour (Fireside)
Monday, December 30 - Office Closed; 5:00pm Rental: Exercise (Fireside)   
Tuesday, December 31 - Office Closed; 10:00am Rental: Exercise (Fireside)
Wednesday, January 1 - Office Closed
Thursday, January 2 - 7:30pm Journey Group Facilitators (Parsonage) 
Saturday, January 4 - 9:00am Rental: Exercise (Fireside); 10:00am Zen (43); 10:15am Overeaters Anonymous (21); 1:00pm Journey Group Facilitators (14)  
Sunday, January 5 - 9:00am Environmental Practices (41); 9:30am Nursery Care (32); 10:00am Worship (Sanctuary); 11:15am Coffee Hour (Fireside)

Minister: Rev. Meredith Garmon,, 914-946-1660 x3
Sabbatical Minister: Rev. Kimberley Debus,
Dir of Lifespan Religious Education and Faith Development: Tracy Breneman,, 914-946-1660 x4
Community Minister: Rev. Deb Morra,, 914-830-1509
Community Minister: Rev. LoraKim Joyner,
Music Director: Adam Kent,, 212-595-7280
Choir Director: Lisa Meyer,
Choir Pianist: Georgianna Pappas,
Children's Music Director: Lyra Harada,
Congregation & Communications Administrator: Pamela Parker,, 914-946-1660 x2
Bookkeeper: Diane Pearson,, 946-1660 x5
Board of Trustees
Board Chair: Al Rocchi,
Vice Chair: Joann Prinzivalli,
Treasurer: Chris Kortlandt,
Social Justice Coordinators
Mary Cavallero,
Emily Economou,
Jeff Tomlinson,
Rev. Meredith Garmon,
Quick Links

On The Journey (current and past issues)
Social Justice Teams
Practice of the Week (current and all past)
The Communitarian Magazine
CUUC Main Web Site
Liberal Pulpit Index
The Liberal Pulpit Video
Boundless Way Zen of Westchester

In the Christian tradition, December 1-24 is the season of Advent - understood as a time for considering the coming - and the second coming - of the Christ; it ends on Christmas Day, with the words from the Book of Revelation, "joy to the world, the Lord is come."

But in the meantime - the month is filled with waiting: waiting for joy, waiting for hope, waiting for peace, waiting for love, waiting for the child, waiting for grace.

It is in this time of Advent that we take time - and fortunately, we have music libraries filled with holiday songs to make the waiting less difficult (sometimes filling us with nostalgia, sometimes bringing us cheer, and sometimes annoying us - I'm looking at you, "Little Drummer Boy"). Over the past four weeks, I have been exploring the themes of Advent through the lens of some of my most beloved and cherished holiday songs.

"The Christmas Song"

December 24, the last night of Advent, is a night of connection, of quiet excitement, of comfort and joy. And while this is often impossible for people to find on this night, there is a song that brings back memories and offers some comfort in these hard times - "The Christmas Song" made famous by the incomparable Nat King Cole:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
We'll find it hard to sleep tonight

They know that Santa's on his way
He's loaded lots of toy and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother's child is gonna spy
To see if reindeers really know how to fly

And so I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety two
Although it's been said
Many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you

Songwriters Barry Anthony Andrews and Robert James Wills tapped into something that we are only learning about in the United States - the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced (HUG-geh).

Loosely translated, hygge is coziness and togetherness. But it's more than that. Hygge is more of a mental coziness, an effect of how we are together. Blogger Louise Thomsen Brits describes hygge as

"The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open hearted and alive, to create well-being, connection and warmth, a feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other, celebrating the everyday.

"In our overstretched, complex, modern lives, hygge is a resourceful, tangible way to find deeper connection to our families, our communities, and our earth. It's an uncomplicated, practical method of weaving the stuff of spirit and heart into daily life without sentimentality then taking time to celebrate it on a human scale.

"Hygge is about appreciation. It's about how we give and receive. Hygge is about being, not having."

In our personal lives, we know the power of hygge - gathering around the table for a shared meal, reading in a comfortable chair, wrapping up in blankets on a blustery afternoon, seeking shelter from the rain under a shop awning, baking pie in a warm kitchen, watching a favorite movie with a cat on your lap, watching the sunset with someone you care for. The things that keep us alert and aware and anxious - the phone, the newspaper, Facebook - are distinctly absent in these moments of personal hygge.

But hygge is not just an absence of things that might be overwhelming. It is in fact a very practical way of creating sanctuary in the middle of very real, hard, complicated life. It is "a kind of enchantment - inviting in warmth, simplicity, connection -making space for the heart and the imagination." Hygge acknowledges the sacred in the secular - that there is something extraordinary in the ordinary.

But hygge is more than stuff; it intangible - it's not just a comfortable space, it's a comfortable experience. It's freshly baked pie and the smells that evoke memories. It's a warm fire and time to read. It's a snuggly quilt and someone to cuddle with. In hygge, the stuff and the space create a sanctuary for our bodies and our spirits.

And it is intentional. Hygge doesn't happen by accident - as Brits says, "it's an attitude, a considered practice. It takes effort to hygge." Hygge is, as author and former monk Thomas Moore writes, "a theme that can be lived amid all the other dimensions of an engaged human life." It doesn't seek to hide the darkness but rather provide a light that reminds us the darkness of pain, sorrows, and troubles is not all there is.

We need this reminder more than ever. It can be so easy to get caught up in the 24/7 news cycle and remain shocked, hurt, angry, scared, almost to the point of being inured to the horrors so that we lose sight of the acts of resistance we must take up - and lose sight of our souls - and the lessons that Advent teaches us to stop, be still, and give thanks.

This song - this beautiful song, bringing to mind memories of roaring fires and hot cocoa, of snuggling under blankets and singing carols together, comfort and anticipation- wrapped in Nat King Cole's honeyed baritone, is hygge.

There is little more to say - so, like Cole, I offer this simple phrase: Merry Christmas to you.

Nat King Cole -
Nat King Cole - "The Christmas Song" (1961)

~ Rev. Kimberley Debus
Your Moment of Zen: The Dream
One fine day Raven took her perch and said to the assembly: "We are children in the dream of the Buddha Macaw. She points to the center of our circle, and the Monarch of the Gods sticks a blade of grass in the ground where she points. Our temple is established, and the Buddha Macaw smiles. The bedrock heaved up from beneath the turf there on the far edge of our circle is her... READ MORE
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