January 2018 Forecaster – Advent and Christmas Hymns, Meaning and Memories

Star of Bethlehem, 1885-1890, Edward Burne-Jones.

In this edition of the UCC Binghamton Forecaster, the Rev. Dr. Arthur Suggs shares some witty and soul-stirring reflections on some of the traditional Advent and Christmas hymns, including an uncle named Harold (Hark the Herald Angels Sing), and Mary, the First Theologian (What Child is This, Who, Laid to Rest).

About In the Bleak Midwinter, Pastor Art shares this: “Christmas occurs right after the Winter Solstice. And this is not a coincidence. And this hymn serves as one of the deepest, yet most subtle, reminders of the light breaking forth when it is darkest, of warmth breaking forth when it is coldest. The “earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone” is symbolic of when life is hard, operating at a primal, Jungian level in our souls. So also the image of a tender newborn, asleep on the hay, with a radiant Mary looking on, instills a message of love, hope, peace in our souls, softening the ice and iron.”

Read the rest of the reflections, and other notes from the church family, here:

January 2018 Forecaster

 

The Overture – Why Does the Christmas Story Matter?

The Holy Night, 1867, by Carl Heinrich Bloch. {{PD-1923}}

Why does the Christmas story matter?

Because Jesus was teaching spiritual freedom in a time of brutal occupation and slavery, where there was no sense of justice for oppressed peoples.

As Pastor Art notes in the sermon, “So this cute story, with animals and angels, and wise men and shepherds is at the root of a parabolic overture to a deeper and grander story of spiritual freedom and spiritual healing for all of us.”

Read the full sermon – The Overture (12-3-17)

Surpassing Worth – Pollyanna’s Glad Game and Troubled Times

Bronze statue of Pollyanna in front of the public library of Littleton, New Hampshire. CC, Davey Nin via Wikimedia.

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

In this sermon, Pastor Art speaks of the story of Pollyanna and her “Glad Game,” and where a positive attitude fits in when particularly horrible events occur in our society.

He says, “In our culture, being labeled Pollyanna or Pollyanna-ish is actually an insult. It means that you’re unrealistically positive , and that’s what I’m wrestling with today.”

“I have an extremely high view of humanity, as you all know: Made in the image of God; children of God; the kingdom of heaven within us — all these kinds of good things.”

“Am I being Pollyanna-ish? That’s for you to decide.”

Read the full sermon: Surpassing Worth (10-8-17)