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?


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.  Breathless.  Hopeful.  Fearful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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