Monday, December 17, 2012

Blessed Christmas

Now, after several months out of the country with no access to my blog, I want to end this year with Christmas greetings, and wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.  So much has happened in these last months worthy of note, and my thoughts on some of those things will again appear here in the coming days, weeks, and months.

For now, I would just focus on some thoughts of Christmas and why the spirit of charity is so uniform throughout the world, even in the midst of war, conflict, economic hardship, displacement, and most recently, a deadly shooting in an elementary school, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut.


In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a manger full of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can give Him ... give my heart.

But, even as we think of the mystery and magic of Christmas, the music and lights of Christmas, terror rips through out hearts and minds as we see the images of the tragic shooting of children, teachers, and administrator in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  The scenes haunt our minds, and the sobs of pain and loss break through the silence of our spaces, and interrupt the noise of commerce of the season, and remind us that life is fleeting, but also that there is room in our hearts and lives for compassion and charity to those in need.

 As I watched the prayer vigil on television this evening and listened to the prayers from clergy of many faiths, and heard the President speak words of comfort and support from a nation in morning to the families of those killed in this horrible massacre, the words of that carol bore deep into my consciousness.

For as we think back on the day more than two millenia ago, we are reminded that when Jesus came into the world, He came at the hard edges of reality.  It was a time of political turmoil, of poverty, and of oppression just as it is today.  His birth was not greeted with undiluted celebration.  Indeed, King Herod set out to kill all the children under the age of 2, all to make sure that Jesus would be killed.  So, it was a costly birth and as we read in Philippians 2:5-8, He made himself of no reputation and took upon Himself, the form of a servant, and humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death on the cross.