Angels, announce with sounds of mirth, Christ who brings new life to earth. Set every peak and valley humming with the word, the Lord is coming. People, look east and sing today: Love, the Lord, is on the way. (Eleanor Farjeon)
My usual Christmas season routine was upended by many unusual things this year. I did not get to the anchoring concerts and gatherings that have lighted my way to the festival as I have had in previous years because of commitments and demands that were necessary for such a time as this. However, I did not lose the thread of the coming of Advent that was carried in the words and deeds of those angels who “set every peak and valley humming with the word, the Lord is coming.”
That humming came in words from the liturgy at the Blue Christmas service:
Lord, it is night. The night is dark. let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you. The night is quiet. let the quietness of your peace enfold us all dear to us, and all who have no peace. Keep us in the truth that night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, to new joys, to new possibilities. (New Zealand Prayer Book).
The humming also rose from the bottom of the valley of the shadow in San Bernardino and Redlands when courageous and tenacious police and leaders of faith communities spoke and implemented wise words and actions in the face of overwhelming anguish and sorrow. Those communities were testimony to all of us of the way that new life could begin to come out of tragedy.
The angel humming grew sonorous as I heard the personal reflections of those who had emerged from sadness and doubt into trust and into joy, even though they still faced daunting challenges–personal and systemic. And the chorus swelled as grace and peace were carried in on seasons’ greetings from far and wide–some from hilltops, some from deep trenches, but all following the Star of the Light they knew.
I felt some days as if I were inside of a copper prayer bowl whose rim had been set vibrating by the angelic touches that alighted there. I received some personal touches–an affirmation from a former parishoner whom I had not ever known who still remembered my sermons and prayers, a word of thanks for something I didn’t know that I had done, a fresh introduction to the Art of Advent in a lecture and Powerpoint presentation given by my husband at church, and loud and enthusiastic singing of “Joy to the World” with my seven year old grand-daughter. I celebrated with gratitude the faithful, steady offerings of pastors, leaders, caregivers, service people who did not miss a beat with the increased tempo of the time of year, steadily providing what was needed and more to prepare the hearts of seeking to receive the One who was and is coming.
In many years of my life it has fallen to me and I have chosen to be the leader of the band of angels what “make Christmas happen,” as pastor, wife, mother, grandmother and friend. This year my call was to pay attention–to hear what I heard, see what I saw, feel what I felt–as many other angels set the hills and valleys and humming for the season. In these next days of Christmastide, I am living in the echoes of the melodies and harmonies set out for me in so many forms and media, allowing me to muse on the good news that I have celebrated, by reflecting, praying, pondering and savoring what it means. I know that it is life-giving, vision-casting and hope-replenishing.
God has blessed us–every one!
Barbara Gulick said:
Lovely, Elizabeth! I’m facilitating an Irish “Woman’s Christmas” on Epiphany for the women, the carriers of the traditions who make the holy-days happen, with an Illuminated Labyrinth around the “Threshold” theme. Also looking to see if there are Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women interested in forming a Daughters of Abraham group.
Oh, so beautifully said, my old friend. Thank you.