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Riverside Reflections December 2011

Riverside Reflections

Rev. Millie Rochester

There was something more than a little incongruous about hearing the ice cream truck’s jingle on neighbourhood streets in the middle of December when Roger and I lived in Florida. Not that it wasn’t appreciated – after all, the temperatures hovered in the 20s (C), so the driver had plenty of business. And the lushness of nature in Florida’s version of wintertime is beautiful, there’s no doubt of that.

Maybe I’m influenced by having lived in Maine as a child, but winter to me has always implied snow, so I’ve not felt any sense that something is missing since we’ve been in Winnipeg. The beauty of ice on the rivers, bright pink sunsets, white-white snow that contrasts with dark tree branches and blue-blue sky…well, it’s spectacular. And that’s not to mention the people, who hesitate not a minute to be outdoors, in spite of the cold.

Another aspect of the season that I look forward to with great anticipation every year, no matter where we are, is the Christmas Eve candle light service. When our children were very young, our home congregation observed this late at night. The steps leading to the church entrance were lined with lanterns, and there was a hushed atmosphere inside, despite the great number of people present.

The littlest youngsters wore their warm winter “jammies,” falling asleep almost as soon as we sat down. The rest sat transfixed, listening along with the rest of us to the music and stories of the service. And at the end, the strains of “Silent Night” filled the air, the first verse sung by the Choir or a soloist. Sleepy children woke up as the congregation joined in singing, and unlit candles we had held throughout the service were lit one by one, until every candle was lit. Finally, humming the tune, we held our lit candles up above our heads, everyone looking around.

Our children are long grown up, now we have two grandchildren, and although we are separated from them by many miles, I imagine them having the same experience, storing up the same memories. I look forward to sharing this special time with all of you. Our Christmas Eve service will begin at 5:00 in the evening, to make attending it easier for families. As is our custom, a special candle will be lit for each child born into our church family this calendar year, so do let me know if you would like your child’s name to be spoken at that time of the service.

May we all hold the light in this season of winter darkness – the light of peace and love – and may we hold one another in our hearts, now and always.

Warmest blessings,


First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winterpeg

603 Wellington Crescent, Winterpeg, Manitoba, Canada R3M 0A7
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