A recent email from the Center for Courage and Renewal, led by Parker Palmer, asked the question, “What song is in your heart today?”
That question made me pause. As we move through Advent toward Christmas, our fingers touch pages of hymnals with worn corners, on them live songs remarkable not only for celebrating the birth of Christ, but also for the memories and feelings they evoke. Singing a Christmas hymn may nudge our memories to Christmases celebrated with grandparents. The next hymn might prompt thoughts of a relative or relationship lost. Perhaps in this season more than any other, music impacts us unexpectedly…and the juxtaposition of joy and sadness can be a spiritually disorienting space.
Read (or sing!): “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to all,
From heaven’s all gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.
Reflect: What songs of Christ’s birth fill your heart with compassion and joy today? What is God whispering to you through lyrics and music? Where does your spirit feel the push and pull of the season? And where do you see the peace of Christ that is beyond comprehension?
Take Action: Reach out to a woman who struggles during this season. Text her, email her, or send her a note to let her know that, although “life’s crushing load” might be a reality for her, you hold her heart in tender friendship and love.
Center for Leadership Excellence and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women
We are grateful to Leah Wiebe-Smith for writing this month’s issue of Encouragements. If you are interested in contributing to a future issue of Encouragements, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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