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Songs and Stories of the Light and Dark

Jo-Anne Elder-Gomes, family and friends

An Intergenerational Service
December 24, 2006
Welcome to our annual Intergenerational Service celebrating the Festivals of Light. I'm Jo-Anne Elder-Gomes, and am pleased to be leading the service this morning. Every year, the children and adults of the Fellowship are invited to take part in a special Sunday Service recognizing the many religions that celebrate the loss and the return of light. This year, some of us will be transformed into Mummers, and will take part in a play adapted from many sources, especially from Rev. Maureen Killoran's play A Modern Mummer.

Some info about the tradition of Christmas Mummers:
Mummering, also called mumming, is commonly known in many outport communities throughout Newfoundland as jennying or jannying. An old Christmas custom from England, it can be traced back hundreds of years. although it is unclear precisely when this tradition was brought to Newfoundland by the English, the earliest record dates back to 1819. Mummering involved a group of people, disguised in ridiculous attire, who called on local homes during the Christmas season. These Mummers or Jennies, as they called themselves, dressed in bright coloured clothing and wore masks when available or painted their faces black. They also distorted their voices to avoid being easily recognized. After being invited inside a house, festivities ensued where food and drink were offered to the visitors who acted the fool and sang and danced while the hosts attempted to identify them. Once a person's identity was correctly determined, it was customary for the mummer to remove his or her mask. The traditional custom of mummering still occurs in many regions of the province today. (From Performing Arts: Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage:

In comes I, Mummer Christmas (Mum for short)
Be I welcome, or be I not. Tradition dictates that at Christmas time, Mummers perform a play in rhyme. This tradition goes back for many a year, In fact I remember when Noah was here, He used the same gags time and again, Like I've bought a new brolly, I hope it will rain.
Hark, what's the noise out by the library door? Dear U*Us, there are more Mummers, whom you've met before. There's bigger ones and small ones, teens and children Asking: are Mummers, nice Mummers 'lowed in?
Are Mummers, nice Mummers `lowed in?
Come in lovely Mummers, for all of us to see
Come join us, we'll see if we knows who you be
We're all eager to sit here and watch your show
And we'll thank you and feed you before you go.

Come in lovely Mummers, for all of us to see
Come join us, we'll see if we knows who you be
We're all eager to sit here and watch your show
And we'll thank you and feed you after the show,

Make room, make room, you gentle folk
And you will plainly see
Before you played the mummers' art
To pleasure you and me.

Here am I, Mummer Christmas,
In our fellowship so dear
I wonder if there's place for us
In UU hearts this year.

A simple lighted chalice,
Which represents the flame
That lives our faith in every heart
No matter what your name.
May each of us receive this morn
From everyone around
Encouragement to carry on
And spread love from town to town.

Here follow fellow mummers,
Our youth so brave and true.
And mum is not the word today --
Songs and stories we have for you.

I am Christmas Carol,
Bringing voices from our past,
From which we take and blend and weave
A tradition that will last.
From our lives in the present, we can appreciate
The things that those before us
In their own time did create.

intro to: #240 I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (traditional version)

Called by song, comes Reverence
I bring you love and peace,
With wishes for a peaceful time
And joys that seldom cease.

And now there cometh Realism,
And our messages do clash.
It seems the only things he cares about
Can be bought and sold for cash!

In come I, pockets empty after shopping
My credit card all a-glow.
I'm satisfied; I've filled my hands,
Now gifts and money shall flow.
We surely can't have Christmas
Without sinking deep in debt!
There's nothing that's worth having
Until its price is set.

I've met a man, he says he'll bring people flocking,
Though his ways may seem a trifle shocking.
He's promised to come and bring along wealthy friends,
And their financial means to help us meet our ends
With a full building we shall be in clover,
Our collecting basket will runneth over.

Your message leaves me mystified
Is money the only realistic hope?
I come here Sundays to fill my heart
Not to fill our envelopes

So you think that money's worthless!
And you believe things you cannot see!
If a fellowship is not sustained
How vital will it be?

You've got yourself persuaded
That the real world is somehow bad!
I s'pose you believe in Heaven
And talk of spirits makes you glad
Bah! Humbug! So say I! It's just
That superstition makes me mad!

I'd rather believe it's magic
That keeps me on the earth
How is it that there's dark and light
That there's pain as well as mirth?

I'm sure we'll find some way to know
What adults and children need to grow
Our food for thought and bodies fill this place in a flash
We have people who would give us
something better than cash

Come, come, a sweet song you will hear
It comes from Nasnan's heart
It seems to me when sadness is near
Then music can comfort our hearts

Mummer Christmas (intro) RIVER


My children, you have heard the song
Of the soul's yearning and its wishes
So can the dark and light get along
And you, at least at... Christmishes!

But who cometh to our doorway?
A hero, tried and true!
I trust he'll bring a message
To reconcile the two of you!

I'm Super Unitarian
In response to your call!
My Transylvanian magic
Perhaps will ease your pall.
I've cured thousands of people
Of maladies diverse
Like apathy and lethargy
And arrogance -- that's the worst!

It's the ointment of free religion
It's Realism's soothing balm
And it's mingled well with Reverence
And caring's gentle calm.
The power comes from energy
From every UU heart,
And the willingness to try again
To melt each hardened heart.

If you dare, we now will try it,
Though I warn you it's hot stuff.


Take care, it's not that easy . . .
Hold on! That's quite enough!

A little dab'll do you!

When your minds let go of fear
Of blue days, and of dark
Your eyes will start to clear
And your minds will join your hearts

Realism and Reverence must each play a part
They both exist together,
No person can be an island,
If our fellowship's to go on forever.


What's happening? The walls are starting to fall
Realism and reverence are twins after all
Realism's hard edges are rounded out by reason
The mind and heart, the dark and light are balanced
In wonder's season

When we come to this holiday season
We too often fail to see
That there's truth in its deep message
That can speak to you and me.
It doesn't mean we must feel joy
Not all flames burn visibly...
Nor does it mean we can't enjoy
The symbols, food and gifts.

The meaning's new in every year,
Though life's troubles in us rage --
These holidays say -- HEY, IT'S TIME

Love's lesson comes to teach us
What we knew from the start --
The only place that hope can live
Is in each human heart!

We've tried with this play, to brighten your day,
'Though the writing would never win prizes or praise.
The rhyming is dismal, the metre abysmal,
It was written hastily and it may not make sense,
If words like magic upset you, we meant no offence,
And when we spoke of money, there was no insult intended.
We U*Us love reason along with reverence
And if you enjoyed our play, that's simply splendid.
So all's well that ends; we bring you good cheer,
That's so important at this time of year.

So we've sung for our supper, or at least our lunch
Now here's your opportunity to say: thanks a bunch!
So we shall pass the basket now,
And while taking up the collection
We shall take our bow.

He doesn't know you can't catch the glory on a hook and hold on to it. That when you fish for the glory you catch the darkness too. That if you hook twice the glory you hook twice the fear. Sheila Watson, /The Double Hook/. When we catch joy and love, we also catch the sadness. It is our tradition, in this community, to share our joys and sorrows. You are invited to bring your stories of darkness and of light. We welcome your words.

The following words are from Patricia Montley, and are entitled

Summoning the Sun

A world without warmth, a world without light...

It's what our ancient ancestors most feared. It's why---as the nights grew longer, and the possibility that the sun would never return grew stronger---they worked their winter-solstice magic.

Diverse myths tell of sun deities who withdraw their life-sustaining energy from earth and must be coaxed out of hiding each year, like a new baby from its mother's womb.

The Cherokee Sun locks herself in her house, grieving for her dead daughter, and can be enticed to smile only by the music and dancing of young people.


To entice the sun out of the night, Joseph Campbell tells us in /The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology,/ the eight million spirits of the Plain of Heaven assembled trees before the cave, bedecked with jewels, lighted bonfires, and laughed aloud with such uproar at a raucous dance...that the goddess...becoming curious, opened the door to peek out. They held a mirror before her, the first she had ever seen; she was drawn out, and the world again was alight.

The sacredness of this hour of the sun deity's return has been honoured in many stories. Surely such stories come from an understanding that is as deep in us as it was in our ancestors of ancient times. Without the return of the sun, there is no new beginning, no new year, no hope: for a better life, a more peaceful world, a greater generosity, a stronger spirit---all the things we need most to believe in.

Maybe this is why we still practice sympathetic magic in the dark of December.

At Solstice time, we string our evergreen trees with lights and bedeck them with sun-shaped jewels; we light bonfires in our hearths, set candles in our windows.

On New Year's Eve, we shoot fireworks into the black sky; we dance raucously and laugh out loud. We come together with families, with neighbours, with friends, as well as with the Dark Self and the Light Self, the yin and the yang of our own beings, to count the seconds that bring us closer to the bright promise of possibility. It is the birthday of the sun. (from the UUA Website)

We know it will come.

STORY: Little One, We Knew You'd Come by Sally Lloyd-Jones
SONG: Would you like to hold the baby? by Joyce Poley.
SONG: Feliz Navidad by Adrian
Members come up and read one of the passages included in the Sources document, and are given a paper ornament made by the children. The readings and ornaments represent the festivals of light that are celebrated at this time of year in many faith traditions.
Youth Song: We Will, We Will Feed You.
CAROL: # 244 It Came Upon the Midnight Clear (verses 1 and 4)
Oh Love that will not let us go,
Oh Light that shines within us and from us,
As we venture out into the winter world, may we carry
our faith in the power of love to change the world
the realization that what we do matters greatly and
the wisdom of how to connect with each other
through acts of kindness and justice.
May we love the world fiercely and bless it with our lives,
For the world needs us.
(Based on a reading for a U*U Bridging Ceremony)
Blesséd be!