A Carol for You

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of you. I am so grateful that you are here, sharing this quiet space with me. May God bless you and those you love today. Enjoy the beauty of this poem and song as you rejoice over the birth of Christ and all of the hope this brings to our weary world. Peace.

Carol Of Joy
by Eileen Berry

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows,
Dark closing in…
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!
Oh fallen world, to you is the song–
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!
Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night;
Hear angel music–hopeful and bright!
Oh fearful world, to you is the song–
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound–
A carol of joy!
A Saviour is found!
Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies!
Look up sad hearted–witness God’s love!
Join in the carol swelling above!
Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven’s joy to you may belong!
You who are lonelyladenforlorn
Oh fallen world!
Oh friendless world!
To you,
A Saviour is born!

(If you are viewing this in an email or reader, click here to view the video of this song)

Mary’s Soul

There is a stillness and a hush.
Stillness
There are words that shred her heart.
It is after the man of light, speaking words of miracle.
It is after the shepherds of dirt, speaking visions of angel army chorales.
It is after the star of God, shining spotlight on her baby.
It is after the scholars of heavens, laying rich treasures down.
Nativity
There is the temple and the sacrifice and the consecration of a baby.
There is a man who raises hands and speaks words of praise to God.
There are words that shred her heart.
And a sword will pierce your own soul too.
There is a stillness and a hush.
And ever after, she lives and follows Him, trusting that God will keep His promises. She is faithful in her trust.
Three Crosses
And she stands at the foot of a cross, watching her innocent child as He is brutally tortured and murdered. As He is pierced with a sword.
And her own soul is pierced as well.
It cannot have made any sense at all.
The murder of innocents never does. Death itself never does.
There is a cross.
Cross
There is ugliness and pain and sorrow and grief.
There is beauty and rescue and hope and the promise of life for all time.
There is faithfulness and trust in a God Who keeps His promises. Always.
In the stillness and the hush,
Hush
In the joy of angels singing
Joy
as well as in the piercing of your own soul,

Pieta

Trust in our God whose Word never fails.
I pray for a joyful New Year for all of you, worshiping the God who makes all things beautiful in His time.
Beautiful Christmas
art credits: snow photo by Kirk Sewell; The Nativity by Correggio; The Three Crosses by Rembrandt; Cross photo by Asta Rastauskiene; Annunciation to the Shepherds by Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem; Pieta by Michaelangelo; Advent wreath photos by Elizabeth Giger

Carol of Joy

Carol Of Joy
by Eileen Berry

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows,
Dark closing in…
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!
Oh fallen world, to you is the song–
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!
Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night;
Hear angel music–hopeful and bright!
Oh fearful world, to you is the song–
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound–
A carol of joy!
A Saviour is found!
Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies!
Look up sad hearted–witness God’s love!
Join in the carol swelling above!
Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven’s joy to you may belong!
You who are lonelyladenforlorn
Oh fallen world!
Oh friendless world!
To you,
A Saviour is born!

Merry Christmas!

(If you are viewing this in an email or reader, click here to view the video of this song)

Waiting

It is a time of waiting.
Waiting
It is a time of waiting in darkness, of waiting in grief, of waiting in loneliness.
Darkness
We are a people living in a land of darkness, in a land of the shadow of death, and as much as we would wish to skip the waiting and rush straight into the glorious light of Christmas, we are still living in Advent.
Living in waiting
It is same as our desire to skip over the ugly of Good Friday and rush straight into the beauties of Easter Sunday. Yet we cannot get to the power of Easter without first living through the pain of Friday.
And we cannot get to the light and wonder of Christmas without first living through the darkness and tenuous hope of Advent.
Living in Advent
Even our Christmas hymns hint at this. They speak of a longing for deliverance, a yearning for Immanuel, God with us.
O come, o come Immanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here.
No more let sins and sorrows grow nor thorns infest the ground.
It is a time to linger with the deepest longing of our heart:  the longing for God to come, the longing for God to make our world and our hearts right again.
Our world was a land of darkness with only the whisper of a light to come that anyone was able to hold on to.
Whisper of light
And then.
And then the end of the story broke gloriously into the middle of the story. The Christ, the Messiah, the end of our story came bursting through with light and stars, with angels and worship.
End of the story
The light came and shone upon the people living in a land of great darkness. The light arrived and we saw that the darkness was not the final word.
Light
We still live in a land of darkness, but now we have more than a whisper. Now we have a glimpse of the Light Himself to hold on to. We have seen the breaking dawn and we know the end of the story.
It is still a time of waiting for yet another Advent.
It is still a time of waiting in the darkness. If we cannot linger through the darkness of our world’s need for the light, if we cannot dwell long in our own need for the darkness of our hearts to be banished, then we cannot ever reach the hope and joy of Christmas.
The deepness of the darkness is what shows us the glory of the light.
So wait. Linger in your waiting.
And then, when Advent is over, when Christmas Day finally arrives, you will be able to revel in the joy and hope of the light that came and that promises to come again.
Light for all time
This time to banish all darkness for good.

Art credit: The Adoration of the Shepherds by Charles Le Brun

Carol of Joy

Carol Of Joy
by Eileen Berry

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows,
Dark closing in…
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!
Oh fallen world, to you is the song–
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!
Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night;
Hear angel music–hopeful and bright!
Oh fearful world, to you is the song–
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound–
A carol of joy!
A Saviour is found!
Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies!
Look up sad hearted–witness God’s love!
Join in the carol swelling above!
Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven’s joy to you may belong!
You who are lonelyladenforlorn
Oh fallen world!
Oh friendless world!
To you,
A Saviour is born!

Merry Christmas!

(If you are viewing this in an email or reader, click here to view the video of this song)

Are You Going Home for Christmas?

Are you going home for Christmas?
Christmas Tree
It is, perhaps, a time of year when we most think about home.  Many of us think back to a particular place, a place where we were given gifts of peace and compassion, grace and love.  We think of those people, or perhaps one person in particular, who gave those gifts to us.  Those who were not given such gifts had at least, perhaps, the dream of such a home.
Christmas Home
We try, in our own ways, to create that sort of a home in our adult lives, yet it is difficult sometimes to believe that such a home can exist in this world, this world that makes it hard to believe in much of anything at times.
In every home, however, no matter how full of beauty and love, there is something missing.  Something small but crucial.  Perhaps we can’t fully describe what that something is, but we search for it and long for it our entire lives.  It is something that gives us a sad and lost feeling, something that makes us feel a bit homeless wherever we happen to be.
Snowy Street
This small but crucial missing piece is what the author of Hebrews talks about at the end of that great chapter detailing those who lived by faith.  After naming some of the greatest heroes and heroines of our faith, the author writes,
These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
And so home is, after all, only where Christ is.  Home is at the manger where even the oxen kneel at midnight.  Home is at the foot of the cross and at the door to the empty tomb.  Home is the place we will find when we finally know even as we are fully known.
Home at the manger
I believe that…the home we long for and belong to is finally where Christ is.  I believe that home is Christ’s kingdom, which exists both within us and among us as we wend our prodigal ways through the world in search of it. ~ Frederick Buechner
Home with Christ
Are you going home for Christmas?

Home

On Them Has Light Shone

 We are people walking in darkness.
Walking in Darkness
Our souls are dark with selfishness and pride. We are blinded by our own interests so that we cannot truly see anyone else, so that we cannot see God. We seek and chase after happiness, darkened in our false understanding that we can find anything good outside of Jehovah.
We dwell in a land of deep darkness.
Land in Darkness
We live in a world where children are born needing new hearts, where babies emerge into poverty and hunger. We ache with the knowledge that storms destroy, that hurt people wound, that cancer kills.
We hang our heads to the ground in shame and weep in this darkness brought about by our own turning away from God. Where is hope?
Hope Dawning
Lift up your head, world that is heavy with darkness. Look up and see a great light.
Great Light
Rise up from the ground, you who are burdened with shame. On you a light has shone.
A Light Shone
A light has dawned. A great light has emerged out of the darkness. His name is Christ the Lord. He is Savior and Messiah. He is Mighty God and Prince of Peace. He brings peace to this world and peace to our souls. He is Ruler and King, He is Servant and Love.
We no longer must dwell in darkness but can run strong in the light.
Unto us a son is born, unto us a child is given.
A Child is Born
The light has come and we are free. Free from darkness, free to love.
Where is hope? Hope is here.
For unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Christ is here.
He Has Come!
Christ has come!

Christ has come!

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

(Isaiah 9.2)

Art credit: Fifth and last photos by Kirk Sewell Photography.

Waiting

Waiting.  Breathless.  Hopeful.  Fearful.
Fragile
Watching.  Gazing intently at this flickering light.  It is a light that at times appears so feeble it sometimes seems that it could be extinguished by a whisper.
Flickering
At times we blow gently, hoping the light will flare up and blaze forth to push out the darkness.  At other times we hide in the dark, weeping a prayer, desperate not to let our deep, ugly parts be known.
Flame
We desire the light and we fear it.  This light is love.  It is not a weak, self-centered, human love.   This is mighty and humble, king and servant, cross- and pain-bearing love.
Love Light
This is Love who will take that flickering candlelight and fan it into flame that overcomes darkness, even our own.  Flame that someday will refine and purify our entire world, purging away dross and imperfection, giving to all of us redeemed perfection results.
Blazing
And we wait.  Wait for Christmas.  Wait for Christ.  Wait to be known.  Wait to be redeemed.
We wait with our breath held.  We wait with a labored kind of waiting, waiting with pregnant hope for our world to be reborn.
And while we wait, we work.  We serve.  We keep our eyes fixed on that flickering light.
Flame
We still weep and fear, but more than that, we love.  We can love through our fear because we who wait have seen the end.  And this fearful love that will destroy our world and even our very selves will bring out of the ashes a world and a self that is truer and more beautiful than any we could have imagined.  Love Himself will bring us through.
And the waiting will be over.
There are wild things
just beyond the creche.
Pry loose an Advent
candle from its round
wreath and walk straight
past the doe-eyed virgin,
deeper into the world
he was born to save.
Jettison your meekness.
Cup your hand over the
flame, you’ll be exposed.
No, don’t look for a star.
Instead listen for the carol
of the trees as the wind
repeats its sounding joy.
You’ll feel more lost than
saved but that’s how the
prophets say it will feel
the closer your journey to
the coming arrival.
~ The Beautiful Due

Mary’s Soul

There is a stillness and a hush.

There are words that shred her heart.

It is after the man of light, speaking words of miracle.

It is after the shepherds of dirt, speaking visions of angel army chorales.

It is after the star of God, shining spotlight on her baby.

It is after the scholars of heavens, laying rich treasures down.

There is the temple and the sacrifice and the consecration of a baby.

There is a man who raises hands and speaks words of praise to God.

And a sword will pierce your own soul too.

There is a stillness and a hush.

And ever after, she lives and follows Him, trusting that God will keep His promises. She is faithful in her trust.

And she stands at the foot of a cross, watching her innocent child as He is brutally tortured and murdered. As He is pierced with a sword.

And her own soul is pierced as well.

It cannot have made any sense at all. 

The murder of innocents never does. Death itself never does.

There is a cross.

There is ugliness and pain and sorrow and grief.

There is beauty and rescue and hope and the promise of life for all time.

There is faithfulness and trust in a God Who keeps His promises. Always.

In the stillness and the hush,

In the joy of angels singing 


as well as in the piercing of your own soul,

Trust in our God whose Word never fails.

I pray for a joyful Christmas for all of you, worshiping the God who makes all things beautiful in His time.

art credits: snow photo by Kirk Sewell; The Nativity by Correggio; The Three Crosses by Rembrandt; Cross photo by Asta Rastauskiene; Annunciation to the Shepherds by Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem; Pieta by Michaelangelo; Advent wreath photos by Elizabeth Giger

The Word of God

The Word of God.

God spoke His Word and light exploded out of the dark.


God spoke His Word and our earth was filled with life.

God spoke His Word and law was given as a mirror to show His people their soul-dark, their sin-death.


God spoke His Word
and His Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The Word of God.

Sent to us who have walked in darkness to bring us into the grace of His light.



God sent His Word, Himself, in the soft, touchable skin of a baby. His Christmas gift to us.


Joy to the world! The Word has come!


The Word of God. 



Light of lights! All gloom dispelling,
Thou didst come to make thy dwelling
Here within our world of sight.
Lord, in pity and in power,
Thou didst in our darkest hour
Rend the clouds and show thy light.
Praise to thee in earth and heaven
Now and evermore be given,
Christ, who art our sun and shield.
Lord, for us thy life thou gavest,
Those who trust in thee thou savest,
All thy mercy stands revealed.
St. Thomas Aquinas 


May we worship Him alone, our light, our gift, God’s Word.


Jesus.


Merry Christmas to you all.