Childhood, Christmas, and O Holy Night!

When it comes to family, friends, and memories, Christmas can be a time of roller coaster emotions. I was fortunate to have a happy childhood. When we were little, no one wanted the latest electronics, but a toboggan, a new dress for school, or a transistor radio. Those were days when we were more content with little.

3kids
But as years go by and family members slip away, first the great grandparents, then grandparents, and parents, those memories become bittersweet. We recognize that having children and grandchildren of your own, bring new blessings, and joy and there’s the rub. There’s the happy and sad of Christmas.

D&DChristmas

It’s exciting when a child sees anything new for the first time. Eyes are open wide, eager to learn, and eager to try new things. A child knows nothing of failure, but finds dreams and goals most fascinating. A child has so many dreams swirling around in his head that he could fill a million books.

 

And don’t we love to be around children? Wide open excitement: they feel free, and life is a big wide-open space.

 

Last week the Umpire and I went to the Binghamton Philharmonic and heard glorious music, one written three hundred years ago…and all to the Glory of God.

 

The Downtown singing group sang Christmas hymns, and a soloist raised goose bumps with the traditional haunting song: O Holy Night!

 

 

O holy night! 


The stars are brightly shining 


It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices 


For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

 

Refrain:

Fall on your knees 


O hear the angel voices 


O night divine 


O night when Christ was born 


O night divine 


O night,

O night divine

 

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming 


With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand 


So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming 


Here come the wise men from Orient land 


The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger 


In all our trials born to be our friend.

 

Refrain

 

Truly He taught us to love one another 


His law is love and His gospel is peace 


Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother 


And in His name all oppression shall cease 


Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 


Let all within us praise His holy name.

 

When my brother and I were very little, I remember a Christmas when my mother brought home a vinyl recording she had made in a studio in Binghamton. We listened eagerly as we heard her familiar soprano voice sing, O Holy Night.

Oholynight
Painted by a young woman in our church

 

On the other side was a recording of an interview studio director and the soloist, our mother. I remember marveling that her voice—our mother was recorded on a vinyl record! In the interview she talked of her family and her two little children. The feeling of child-like awe is still with me.

 

mom, me
Our Mom

 

 

momsing

 

 

When our mother passed away and we cleared out her apartment, no one found that vinyl that I had seen many times through the years, but it doesn’t take away the memories of that song, or the memories of our mother always singing. She sang as naturally as she breathed. It wasn’t just singing—it was feeling the song into life. That’s the way she sang.

 

At Christmas time, she sang around the house, with or without the radio. She sang in the car as Dad drove us to Christmas with the grandparents. But out of all the Christmas songs she sang, O Holy Night affects me in a most powerful way.

 

I was in Barnes & Noble last week and on a table I saw the return of the vinyl record. There sat a new vinyl of the Beatles. I heard it was coming…the return. As we put up with the new electronics that come our way, we change from the vinyl to tapes, to CDs and return to the vinyl. It’s reliving history.

 

But nothing changes with Christ.

 

That blessed night when Christ gave up his privilege to live in heaven, to come as a child to earth for us, was that holy night.

 

I’m reading Revelation and all will be fulfilled that was planned in the very beginning. Long before earth was created, and man set on earth to be the guardian, God made his plan and has forever set out to accomplish it.

The Babe was the center point, the focus, and who witnessed it?

A few shepherds were privileged to see the Lamb of God.

 

At the very end of Revelation, he speaks important words to us…

“Yes, I am coming soon.

Amen, come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

Rev. 22:20,21 NIV

 

“Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.”
John 1:29

 

May you share the news with others and have a blessed Christmas!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Scrooged…or Peace on Earth?

Every year just after Thanksgiving I pull out my favorite Christmas movies. I always start with Alastair Sims playing Scrooge. In my opinion it has to be Alastair Sims, because he is the scroogiest!

There are many famous quotes from Dickens’ book that tell the tale of greed turned to love when Scrooge was forced to face his life.   His eyes were opened. Everything about money had consumed Ebenezer until he had no room for anyone…not one soul, until he had shut everything that was good and kind out of his life.

cc01

Remember this cold, unfeeling scene from the movie?

First Collector: At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.

Ebenezer: Are there no prisons?

First Collector: Plenty of prisons.

Ebenezer: And the union workhouses – are they still in operation?

First Collector: They are. I wish I could say they were not.

Ebenezer: Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. I’m very glad to hear it.

First Collector: I don’t think you quite understand us, sir. A few of us are endeavoring to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth.

Ebenezer: Why?

First Collector: Because it is at Christmastime that want is most keenly felt, and abundance rejoices. Now what can I put you down for?

Ebenezer: Huh! Nothing!

Second Collector: You wish to be anonymous?

Ebenezer: [firmly, but calmly] I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish sir, that is my answer. I help to support the establishments I have named; those who are badly off must go there.

First Collector: Many can’t go there.

Second Collector: And some would rather die.

Dear Fred, who felt sorry for his uncle, is an example of unconditional love. Fred was the only one who did not despise, ignore or fear him. Scrooge’s nephew never gave up, but always spoke to him with a cheery word and a smile.

When Marley showed up as the doorknocker, and entered his room he struck fear into Ebenezer. He tried to help his old friend redeem himself before it was too late. Scrooge didn’t get it; he needed more softening of the heart.

Ebenezer: But it was only that you were an honest man of business!

Jacob Marley: BUSINESS? Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my business!

tumblr_mxx6mumaHW1s3mivlo1_400

scroogescared

I spent some years in retail sales, and it seemed to me that every year greed and selfishness continued to grow. We can blame corporations as they promote overspending because they have forgotten that Christmas is about the Child who came as The Gift. But ultimately the blame falls on each of us individually. We let ourselves be caught up in it.

While Christmas trees decorate the stores, no one sees them. Instead, grumpy spirits, bearing no smiles, rush from store to store.

Who thinks of the Child when they rush? Who would remember to put money in the Salvation Army bucket on the way out if it weren’t for the bell?

When Scrooge met Christmas Present he was still unmoved. Too old to change, he said…

Spirit of Christmas Present: So! Is your heart still unmoved towards us, then?

Ebenezer: I’m too old and beyond hope! Go and redeem some younger, more promising creature, and leave me to keep Christmas in my own way!

Spirit of Christmas Present: Mortal! We Spirits of Christmas do not live only one day of our year. We live the whole three hundred and sixty-five. So is it true of the Child born in Bethlehem. He does not live in men’s hearts one day of the year, but in all days of the year. You have chosen not to seek Him in your heart. Therefore, you will come with me and seek Him in the hearts of men of good will.

As bad as things look some days, there is still love in this world. Charities such as Samaritans Purse, CHOW, Catholic Charities, and others work diligently for donations especially at Christmastime. People will give unselfishly, and people will volunteer. There are still people who love, and many times these people do not lay claim to Christ.

There is still hope!

 “ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:13,14 NKJV

 Do we believe there could be peace on earth? Peace: it’s the illusion that people have always talked about–the one question for Miss America! It’s what all people are eager for. But how does it happen? Can mankind unite and change the world? Will mankind ever unite and have world peace?

Right there…that moment when the angel spoke…the Peace came to earth.

And now…we wait for the day when the Savior comes again. We will have peace, but there will never be peace on this earth. That doesn’t mean we don’t love, and sacrifice, and do our part toward peace now.

Otherwise, how will others recognize Christ?

Finally after the Spirit Yet to Come, showed Scrooge his grave, he repented…

Ebenezer: [singing] I don’t know anything, I never did know anything, and now I know that I don’t know, all on a Christmas morning.

 

Scrooge-after

He was joyful! He was learning to love. He was learning to be selfless.

My favorite part of the movie is when Scrooge talks to Bob Cratchit the day after Christmas…laughs, and throws his quill pen carelessly behind him…

still laughing.

Ebenezer: I don’t deserve to be so happy.

Ebenezer: But I can’t help it.

Ebenezer: I-I I just can’t help it.

As so as the story goes, he kept Christmas all year-long, and he kept it very well.

 

Here are a few interesting quotes from the author, Charles Dickens:

 

“Lost friend, lost child, lost parent, sister, brother, husband, wife, we will not so discard you! You shall hold your cherished places in our Christmas hearts, and by our Christmas fires; and in the season of immortal hope, and on the birthday of immortal mercy, we will shut out Nothing!”

-Charles Dickens

 

“My dear children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him.” -Charles Dickens

(In which he wrote for his children—“The Life of Our Lord.”)