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: Have a Direct Experience of Transcending Mystery and Wonder
Actually, you cannot make yourself have a direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder. You can only prepare for, open yourself to, and invite such an experience. If  transcending mystery and wonder happens, it's an accident. This practice is to try to make yourself a little more "accident prone." READ MORE
Rev. Kimberley is planning a beautiful Christmas Eve service that will include many voices. We invite children, youth, young adults, adults and families to participate by reading short passages during the service. Contact Tracy to volunteer.... READ MORE 
Music for our season of Advent worship will begin with a glance back to the Lutheran tradition embodied in J. S. Bach's Cantata Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland (Now Comes the Heathens' Savior), written to mark the start of the liturgical year in Weimar in 1714. Elsewhere, our own Mary Cobb offers up William Bolcom's touchingly tender "Waitin'," and the CUUC Choir is on hand... READ MORE
Upcoming Worship Services

Sun Dec 8, 10:00am
"What to Expect When You're Expecting"
Rev. Kimberley Debus  
December is a time of waiting, with the holidays we celebrate - Winter Solstice, Christmas, and Hanukkah - all connected to anticipation, hope, and expectation. Sometimes the waiting is good - but sometimes it's difficult. Together we'll explore what it means to wait and dwell in possibility.  
S un Dec 15, 10:00am
Rev. Kimberley Debus  
How do we find joy amidst hardship and grief, especially in a season that cajoles us to be happy? How and when might grace show up?
Our CUUC YouTube Channel has videos of many past services. Check it out HERE!
Opening in Gmail? Be sure to click "View entire message" at the bottom.
Social Justice Opportunity  
Amnesty International Write-a-Thon , Sat Dec 7, 1:00-5:00pm, CUUC Fellowship Hall
You are invited to send personal messages of support to human rights defenders under threat around the world. Materials & refreshments provided. Contact: Ruth Gyure (
RE Assistant Needed       
Assistant Needed, 8th-9th Grade Coming of Age class, Sun Dec 8
All adults may serve as assistants in Religious Education classes - no preparation required! Just spend an hour with our children and youth to fulfill our Safe Congregation practice of having two adults with our kids at all times. Click HERE to sign up.   
Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair      
Annual Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair Fundraiser, Sun Dec 8, Sanctuary, following Worship 
Unique gifts from local craftspeople for your family, friends, teachers, and everyone on your list! Contact Barbara Youngman ( Proceeds help support the Minister's Discretionary Fund.
Team Meetings - Sun Dec 8       
Religious Education Council, 8:15am, Rm 41
Contact Christine Haran (, Laura Goodspeed (  
1619 Project Planning 11:40am, Fellowship Hall
Contact: Jeff Tomlinson (

Environmental Practices, 11:40am, Rm 41
Contact: Charlie McNally (, Janet Bear (  
Wreaths for Sale        

Wreath Sale Fundraiser, Sun Dec 8, After Worship 
As a scouting fundraiser, Doyle & Callie Zisson will be selling wreaths outside the main doors at CUUC after the service Sun Dec 8. Let them help you beautify your door or mantle!

1619 Project       
1619 Project Planning Meeting, Sun Dec 8, 11:40am, Fellowship Hall
The NY Times' 1619 Project is a collection of articles on slavery in the U.S. and its impact on society. Join us to plan how to bring these resources to our congregation. Contact: Jeff Tomlinson ( ) 
Opportunities for Giving
Personal Items for Shelter Residents: We collect new men's and women's socks, underwear, and toiletries throughout December for residents of local shelters. Posters by our RE kids help spread the word. Contact: Ray Messing (
Gift Cards for Coachman Family Center: Help a family at the Coachman by signing up to purchase a $25 gift card for their school-age children. Beginning Sun Dec 8, we will have a list of the children and the card they prefer. Please box and wrap the gift cards, tag with the child's name and room number, and bring in by Sun Dec 22. Contact: Ray Messing (
The Mitten Tree is Here! Help us decorate it by donating mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves for all ages and sizes. Share the gift of warmth! We will be collecting until Sun Dec 29. 
Science & Spirituality  
Science & Spirituality, Thu Dec 12, 11:30am, Rm 41  
Join us for our last meeting of 2019 to view the science fiction film Interstellar, about finding a new home for humans when earth becomes uninhabitable. Contact: Barbara Mair (

Faith Development Friday
Faith Development Friday, Fri Dec 13, Fireside, Rms 14, 32, 43
Our evening of learning, growth, and community. 6:15pm pizza & salad dinner by the Fireside; 7:00pm Programs, including "Habits of the Heart" Adult RE, separate Adult and Children's Journey Groups, and Youth Group. RSVP to by Fri noon so we know how much food to order. 
Winter Choral Concert    

Winter Choral Concert: Schubert's Mass in G Major & Songs of the Season, Sun Dec 15, 12:30pm, Sanctuary
Our afternoon of music features the CUUC Choir, under the direction of Lisa N. Meyer, with pianist Georgianna Pappas accompanying. Free childcare available with advance reservation to Discount tickets available during coffee hour, or buy online at
Social Justice Team News 
We are pleased to share that Emily Economou is joining Jeff Tomlinson and Mary Cavallero as a Social Justice Coordinator. A member of CUUC since 2003, Emily brings a wealth of experience, having served as both a member and as chair of our Board of Trustees. She also worked with the committee that selected social justice topics that would most interest to our congregation. Welcome Emily!
Save the Date
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 ( 
Environmental News 
On December 12, 2019, from Vancouver Harbour in Canada, for the first time The Ocean Clean Up Project will show its plastic catch on shore and share plans for turning this problem into a solution. Tune in on Wed Dec 12 to the livestream to find out more. See a preview HERE. 
From Economic Social Justice       

Want to be a more conscious consumer as you shop for the holidays? The CUUC Economic Social Justice Team suggests you consider purchases that preserve the planet, support companies that are fair to employees, and help make a difference in the world. Check out the following sites for ideas on how to buy wisely:
Sponsor a Child - Last Weeks 
Deadline Sun Dec 15
Lisa Cavallero, daughter of CUUC members John and Mary Cavallero, is a volunteer teacher in Zambia this year. Support Lisa and give more Zambian children access to education by making a donation to CUUC with the memo "Sponsor a Child." Any amount welcome! Read Lisa's letter HERE. 
Deck Our Halls!       
Donate to Our Holiday Display
Rev. Kimberley is allergic to poinsettias, so we have decorated our sanctuary with some new plants for the holidays (beautifully arranged by Claire Flower). You may contribute to our display, in honor, remembrance, or celebration of a person, event, or group. Send donations of $15 a plant to the office (checks to "CUUC" with memo "display") and include the message you would like written in the Christmas Eve order of service. Contact: Pam Parker (, 914-946-1660 x2).
From the Treasurer  
We need every Friend and Member to contribute so our day-to-day operations and vibrant programming can be funded. If you haven't yet, please complete, mail in, or drop off your pledge form. Forms are available outside the office. Or pledge online at Read the Treasurer's letter HERE.
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. The Coachman offers support and activities for children, including childcare, a youth center, after-school homework help, arts and crafts, music, and recreation.
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 6 - 7:00pm Youth Group (14)

Saturday, December 7 - 9:00am Rental: Exercise (Fireside); 9:30am Rental: WCSPP Community Forum (Fellowship Hall); 10:00am Zen (43); 10:30am Overeater's Anonymous (21); 1:00pm Rental: Amnesty International Write-A-Thon (Fellowship Hall); 1:00pm Journey Group Facilitators (Parsonage); 2:00pm Crafts Fair Setup (Sanctuary)

Sunday, December 8 - 8:45am Choir Rehearsal (Sanctuary); 9:30am Nursery Care (32); 10:00am Worship (Sanctuary); 11:15am Coffee Hour (Fireside); 11:30am Craft Fair (Sanctuary); 11:40am 1619 Project Planning (Fellowship Hall); 11:40am Environmental Practices (41)

Monday, December 9 - 5:00pm Rental: Exercise (Fireside); 6:30pm T'ai-ch'i (Fireside)

Tuesday, December 10 - 10:00am Rental: Exercise (Fireside); 1:00pm Rental: The Joy of Watercolor (Fireside); 7:00pm Rental: WCSPP (Classes);
7:30pm Choir Rehearsal (Sanctuary)
Wednesday, December 11 - 8:30am CUUC Dance Movement Group (Fireside); 7:30pm Board of Trustees (14)

Thursday, December 12 - 11:30am Science & Spirituality (41); 7:30pm Journey Group - D. Manetta, K. McGahren-Clemens (Parsonage); 7:30pm  Worship Committee (Study)

Friday, December 13 - 11:00am Journey Group - Rev. Garmon/Rev. Debus (Parsonage); Faith Development Friday: 6:15pm Dinner (Fireside); 7:00pm Adult Religious Education (Fireside); Adult Journey Group (43); Children's Journey Group (32); 7:00pm Youth Group (14); 8:00pm Rental: WCSPP Scientific Meeting (Fellowship Hall)

Saturday, December 14 - 9:00am Rental: Exercise (Fireside); 10:00am  Choir Dress Rehearsal (Sanctuary); 10:00am Food Prep for Community Meal (Kitchen); 10:00am Zen (43); 10:15am Overeaters Anonymous (31); 1:00pm Rental: WCBNY (Fellowship Hall); 3:00pm Rental: Hoff Barthelson Setup / Rehearsal (Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, 11, 14); 8:00pm Rental: Hoff Barthelson Recital (Sanctuary)

Sunday, December 15 - 9:30am Nursery Care (32); 10:00am Worship (Sanctuary); 11:30am Community Meal (Fellowship Hall); 12:30pm Winter Choral Concert (Sanctuary); 5:00pm Journey Group - K. Leahy (Off-Site)    

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 Quarterly Communitarian
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 next four weeks, I'll be exploring the themes of Advent  through the lens of some of my most beloved and cherished holiday songs.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

This is a beautiful song, written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane for the movie musical Meet Me in St. Louis, and most famously sung by Judy Garland. We hear the song a lot, often with lyrics rewritten to be more cheerful; singer Frank Sinatra purportedly asked the songwriters "The name of my album is 'A Jolly Christmas'; do think you could jolly up that line for me?"

Here are the lyrics we are most familiar with:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

In the original lyrics, the song is a bit grittier, and with good reason. The family in our story have just learned from their father that they'll be moving from St. Louis to New York just after Christmas. The youngest child (played by Margaret O'Brien) is forlorn, and Esther (played by Garland) sings her a song of comfort.

In the original lyrics, we look forward with hopefulness:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
NEXT YEAR ALL our troubles will be out of sight

And we accept the reality of the present moment:

Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow

With those two original lyrics, we get to the heart of Advent's message of hope. We know that things won't always be the way they are, and we know that the meantime can be a mean time. But we also know that even if things will never be the same, there will be reasons to celebrate. Hope thrives when we accept what is true and look forward, when we open ourselves to the grace of the present moment and know that this struggle is not all there is.

For me, this song is a helpful reality check in the midst of the extraordinarily cheerful songs that seem so treacly or cloying. As we grow older - growing up to be adults, watching our children grow up, watching our lives change with the passing of each year - we can still find a way to hope for the light of family, friends, love, and comfort to return.

Advent points us toward hope - hope for relief, hope for positive changes, hope for the light to return, hope for our futures and the futures of those we love. And whether we have to muddle through or can celebrate, or some mixture of both, hope helps us see the grace all around us.

Watch the original scene from the film, with Garland and O'Brien, HERE, and have yourself a merry little Christmas:

~ Rev. Kimberley Debus
Your Moment of Zen: Birth and Death
One evening after chanting sutras, Raven said, "Over at Jackrabbit Roshi's community, we were taught that we should be free from birth and death. I've never known how to go about this." Brown Bear said, "That's because it isn't possible." Raven said, "There was a clear implication that it is." Brown Bear lunged at Raven with a horrific snarl. Raven let out a croak and flew to a gray... READ MORE
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