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
I wonder if I’m alone or if this is true for you, too … the singing of the Christmas carols connects me deeply to the Christmas season. These are tunes that I’ve somehow known my whole life. These are words that always seem to have held my heart. I remember caroling down the streets of Mattoon on snowy nights with the promise of hot chocolate at our last stop. I remember caroling on Christmas Eve in Florida in my shorts. I remember candlelit services at midnight. I remember…
There is nothing that can get me crying faster than singing those old carols. Even now as I’m typing these words I am holding tender memories of singing in the pews with my grandparents and in the church choirs with my parents and sisters. And when Linda and the boys are singing next to me on this upcoming Christmas Eve, sam will be the first to tell you that tears will fall through most of the service.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight… These words from O Little Town of Bethlehem echo tenderly in my heart this year. They seem true every year, but this year, this year they feel tender and powerful ~ both.
These words from this carol hold the season for me this year. This is what the spirit of Christmas is all about.
We bring our fears this year. Individually and collectively, we bring the echo of the gunshots around the world – in Missouri and in Pakistan, in the streets of Atlanta and the streets of Gaza. All around the world, there will be Christians listening for one another as they sing this song this Christmas.
What do the hopes and fears of all the years mean to you this year? How do these words resonate in your heart? How are they alive for you?
For me this year Hope and Fear meet in Bethlehem. When we sing these words together it's as though we're all gathered together and held by the One who loves us. These carols take us our whole lives to learn. It turns out from our first singing, these songs have been our life prayers.
This is the season where darkness and light meet. This is the season where hope and fear meet. This is the season when we are aware of the broken places, and we wait for angels. This is the season where are our humanness is held by holiness. This is the season…
Oh come to us abide with us our Lord, Emmanuel. Perhaps we have never sung a truer prayer.
Breath Prayer: “fears” “and hopes”
O Holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell. O come to us, abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel. Amen.
believes in beginnings and beginning again, in holding on and letting go, in God's presence as close as our next breath. Lesley works as a hospice Bereavement Coordinator in Atlanta. She is an ordained minister in the UCC and has just completed her second book, "Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon in 29 Days" (to be released early in 2015).