The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. —John 1.14
The word is love. —The Beatles
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Today as I write, it is Wednesday, December 14. Just another Wednesday to knock out my blog post. I thought I’d tell you my favorite Christmas carol (“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”) and then ask you to tell me yours.
(You still can if you feel like it after what is to come.)
Before I started on this post, I read The History Channel’s newsletter, “This Day in History”—as I do most mornings.
December 14: Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole in 1911; the USSR was expelled from the League of Nations for its invasion of Finland in 1939; 20 students and 6 teachers were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
I remember. You remember. We all remember.
Rachel weeping for her children.
Who can think of “Joy to the World” or “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” on such an anniversary? My mind went to “In the Bleak Mid-winter” and then to “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night” by Simon and Garfunkel (released in 1966).
That song haunts me.
The lights of Christmas cannot eliminate the darkness. Jesus is not a way out of this world. Jesus is a certain way of being in this world. Of being in love. Emmanuel. God (love) with us.
Last Sunday we put on a Christmas playlist and put up the tree with our 14-year-old twin granddaughters. That was a first. That was joy.
I settled in my chair to watch the news and saw jagged fragments of Pan Am Flight 103 strewn on the ground at Lockerbie, Scotland. I didn’t remember that this week is the anniversary of that massacre. Two hundred and seventy people killed on December 21, 1998.
I’d forgotten. So many other massacres squashed it. 9/11. Sandy Hook. Marjory Douglas Stoneman. Uvalde. Colorado Springs.
Rachel weeping for her children who were and now are not.
And that took me to the “Coventry Carol.” I’ve heard it many times but never paid attention to the lyrics. I thought it was a lullaby. It’s not.
Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child
Bye bye, lully, lully
O sisters too, how may we do
For to preserve this day?
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
“Bye bye, lully, lully”?
Herod the king, in his raging
Charged he hath this day
His men of might in his own sight
All young children to slay
That woe is me, poor child, for thee
And ever morn’ and day
For thy parting neither say nor sing
“Bye bye, lully, lully”
Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child
Bye bye, lully, lully
Herod’s decree (“Kill all male children two years and younger!”) and Rachel weeping for her children are also part of the Christmas story.
Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time to stand in solidarity with those who mourn. Light the candles of hope, love, joy, and peace tonight.
You are the light.
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It isn’t far from joy to sorrow. In sorrow it seems the best we can hope for is thoughts and prayers. Those that could potentially turn sorrow into some future good seem to cloak their inactions into thoughts and prayers, hoping that the next news cycle will absolve their inaction. Individuals of faith and those who aren’t harbor thoughts and prayers in the face of sorrow, and unfortunately share a collective regret in their inability to effect change that would mitigate future man-created needless sorrow. Love might be the answer, but life’s questions are essay assignments requiring 16 or so blue books we used in college.
Thank you for bringing history, perspective & remembrance to this season… Rachel indeed weeps – for the babes are the hope & joy to the world; while the Herods fear & kill with ferocious might… it is a lullaby, a hauntingly beautiful lullaby… that tells the cruel story, cloaked in comfort & beauty – so that we are soothed as we are reminded of the horrors of beauty laid waste again & again… until we can sleep again, wake up to the light again – a new day; a new opportunity to hold light in the dark places; hold light for ourselves and others; finding the path to peace, hope & love that guides us – has always guided us forward. Herod’s men did not kill all the young children…the light – thank you.
All I know is that it meant the world to me when the twins (14!) stopped and spoke to me for a bit on tree lighting night in town. Clearly, on the way to somewhere else and nice enough to pause. We carry on.
🕯Hope, 🕯Love, 🕯Joy, 🕯Peace
“For this reason and this reason alone was I born unto this world: To bear Witness to Truth.”
May the love in our hearts lighten others’ burdens as well as the way forward, throughout this holiday season and daily in the year to come. 💜☮️💜
How perfectlly solemn my heart and soul.Yes, “Advent IS a time to stand in solidarity with those who mourn. Light the candles of hope, love, joy, and peace tonight.”
Amen and Aman
The Coventry Carol played a part in beginnings of a social consciousness in me at around the age of 13. I started seeing the world through different eyes and the rank hypocrisy and injustices of the society in which I lived became more glaringly apparent. Of course, I came of age during a time of the Civil Rights movement led by Dr. King and others, as well as the nascent emergence of the Peace Movement However, music was an indispensable part of my awakening. There were the Civil Rights song of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and so many notable others. Into this mix entered the hauntingly plaintive, Coventry Carol. I had, of course, already been well schooled Herod’s maniacal, egotistical infanticide in Sunday school. But The Coventry Carol’s haunting melody, combined with the resigned anguish of a multitude of mothers, has remained enduring influence. In it’s own unique way, The song propelled me, when young, to continue to push back the social veils so prevalent at the time–1963-1964. Every holiday season, it’s part of my own renewal, my recommitment, in my own seemingly insignificant way, to try and leave this battered old world a better place than I found it.
While you’re at it, give Melissa Etheridge’s, “Shine a Light,” a spin–what an archaic term. Music is love; love is music. Sing and play more in 2023. (Now if I could only follow my own advice!)
My fav is “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (“How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given/ When God imparts to human hearts, the wonders of his heaven.”)
We are the light. Together we are so much brighter. When we shine as one our light reaches farther in the darkness. When we honor each other’s source of light, our own shines brighter. As we wrap ourselves in the Christmas spirit, we honor Hanukkah and the light.
For me it’s Silent Night because of what happened after the Christmas Eve service a few years ago: as we came out of the sanctuary it had begun to snow.
The opening words of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” have long intrigued me:
“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie/above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by/Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light/the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
This is more than poetic splendor—it is the human reality of living with “hopes and fears”, a sacred balance of living by hope in the “everlasting light” of Divine Presence yet, at the same time, being aware of our fears and the anxieties of others. We are a part of a cosmic chain of vulnerability and interdependence. Yet Inclusive Light radiates on all of us as if there is but one of us. May we let it shine!
Whew. I read this this morning during my first coffee. And I wanted to respond right away but didn’t know how. Such a powerful moment.
I was invited today to an interfaith service at the Unitarian Universalist Church here in Knoxville and was looking forward to it. I had an idea of what I thought I would experience. But as it was all Advent/Christmas/Hanukkah, there was a delightful children’s service with a very, very brief sermon that touched on way too many things. So to be fair, I’ll have to give the minister another chance.
Thank you so much for your gift of a thoughtful, timely, soulful message. I look forward to it each week. As it has been said above, we are the light. I send to all of you good wishes for peace, love, and many blessings.
In one of the news stories I saw about Sandy Hook this week, the reporter talked about how “resilient” the surviving children had been. I promptly launched the kind of tirade Hannah has learned to accept when I watch the news. The focus of my tirade was that we now expect young children to be “resilient” after witnessing their elementary school teammates shot to death in school.
Sandy Hook, and many other gun caused homicides, are preventable atrocities. Instead of prevention, we expect “resilience.”
What is wrong with us?
Text of a Finnish carol that I just learned this year:
Now shines forth, stars of Christmas Eve.
Shine along with children’s starry eyes;
Tell the story of the Christmas night,
Ever new, and ever wondrous bright.
Comfort us like when we were children.
Time comes when the Christmas story ends;
Gravest grief like fog will shadow all.
Days will come when tears will overflow,
Waves of suffering will greatest grow;
Thus now, starry eyes, you must shine forth.
I never realized.
Today was another blessed concert by the RPO. Christmas Pops under direction of Jeff Tyzik. The man is a blessed talent. Yay for Eastman School, Kodak Center, Youth High school Choir. Another great Christmas Pops. Including esp. “Oh happy day” with the guest singer. high school chorus audience clapping and full orchestra. My heart is full.