Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve

A thought for every Christmas: “Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” - President Calvin Coolidge

CHRISTMAS EVE carol (The Lord at first did Adam make)
The Lord at first did Adam make
Out of the dust and clay,
And in his nostrils breathed life,
E'en as the Scriptures day.
And then in Eden's Paradise
He placed him to dwell,
That he within it should remain
To dress and keep it well.
Now let good Christians all begin
An holy life to live,
And to rejoice and merry be,
For this is Christmas Eve.

And then within the garden he
Commanded was to stay,
And unto him in commandment
These words the Lord did say:
The fruit which in the garden grows
To thee shall be for meet,
Except the tree in the midst thereof,
Of which thou shalt not eat.
For in the day that thou shalt eat,
Or do it them come nigh;
For it that thou doth eat thereof
Then surely thou shalt die.
But Adam he did take no heed
Unto that only thing,
But did transgress God's holy law,
And so was wrapt in sin.
Now mark the goodness of the Lord
Which he for mankind bore,
His mercy soon he did extend,
Lost man for to restore;
And then for to redeem our souls
From death and hellish thrall,
He said his own dear son should be
The Saviour of us all.
Which promise now is brought to pass,
Christians, believe it well;
And by the coming of God's dear Son
We are redeemed from thrall.
Then if we truly do believe,
And do the thing aright;
Then by his merits we at last
Shall live in Heaven bright.
Now for the blessings we enjoy,
Which are from Heaven above,
Let us renounce all wickedness
And live in perfect love.
Then shall we do Christ's own command,
Ev'n his own written word,
And when we die in Heaven shall
Enjoy our living Lord.
And now the tide is nigh at hand,
Int' which our Saviour came;
Let us rejoice, and merry be,
In keeping of the same.
Let's feed the poor and hungry souls,
And such as do it crave;
Then when we die, in Heaven sure,
Our reward we shall have.

About midnight some one on the roof cried out, "What light is that in the sky? Awake, brethren, awake and see!"

The people, half asleep, sat up and looked; then they became wide-awake, though wonder-struck.  And the stir spread to the court below, and into the lewens; soon the entire tenantry of the house and court and enclosure were out gazing at the sky.

And this was what they saw.  A ray of light, beginning at a height immeasurably beyond the nearest stars, and dropping obliquely to the earth; at its top, a diminishing point; at its base, many furlongs in width; its sides blending softly with the darkness of the night, its core a roseate electrical splendour.  The apparition seemed to rest on the nearest mountain southeast of the town, making a pale corona along the line of the summit.  The khan was touched luminously, so that those upon the roof saw each other's faces, all filled with wonder.

Steadily, through minutes, the ray lingered, and then the wonder changed to awe and fear; the timid trembled; the boldest spoke in whispers.

"Saw you ever the like?" asked one.

"It seems just over the mountain there.  I cannot tell what it is, nor did I ever see anything like it," was the answer.

"Can it be that a star has burst and fallen?" asked another, his tongue faltering.

"When a star falls, its light goes out."

"I have it!" cried one, confidently.  "The shepherds have seen a lion, and made fires to keep him from the flocks."

The men next the speaker drew a breath of relief, and said, "Yes, that is it!  The flocks were grazing in the valley over there to-day."

A bystander dispelled the comfort.

"No, no!  Though all the wood in all the valleys of Judah was brought together in one pile and fired, the blaze would not throw a light so strong and high."

After that there was silence on the house-top, broken but once again while the mystery continued.

"Brethren!" exclaimed a Jew of venerable mien, "what we see is the ladder our father Jacob saw in his dream.  Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers!"

~ from  Ben-Hur  by  Lew Wallace

Sunday, December 18, 2016

4th Sunday of Advent

Here lies the precious Babe, first-fruit of virgin's womb,
Angels' delight and joy, men's highest price and boon,
Should He your Saviour be and lift you into God,
Then, man, stay near the crib and make it your abode.

How simple we must grow! How simple they, who came!
The shepherds looked at God long before other men.
He sees God nevermore, not there, nor here on earth,
Who does not long within to be a shepherd first.

All things are now reversed: the castle is the cave,
The crib becomes a throne, the night brings forth the day,
The Virgin bears a Child.  Reflect, O man, and say
That heart and mind must be reversed in every way.

~ Angelus Silesius

Sunday, December 11, 2016

3rd Sunday of Advent

When Jesus Christ our Lord was born,
The angels welcomed that happy morn;
The world was weary, the world was sad,
So down came Jesus to make us glad;
And all the bells on earth did ring,
And all the angels in heaven sing:
‘Peace on earth, goodwill towards men’.

Two thousand years have come and gone,
Since the star of Bethlehem brightly shone;
And now again the world is torn
With war and hunger and fear and scorn;
There's fighting while the bells do ring,
There's hating while the angels sing;
Not much peace or goodwill towards men.

It may not be in a stable bare,
There won't be wise men and shepherds there;
But when Lord Jesus is born again,
Oh, may it be in the hearts of men;
And all the bells on earth will ring,
And all the angels in heaven sing,
For Christ our Lord will really bring
Peace on earth, goodwill towards men.

~ Calypso Carol

Sunday, December 04, 2016

2nd Sunday of Advent

Loving Father, help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

~Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, November 27, 2016

1st Sunday of Advent

ou, Lord, yourself are our Father,

Our Redeemer is your ancient name.
Why, lord, leave us to stray from your ways
and harden our hearts against fearing you?

Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down
- at your Presence the mountains would melt.

You guide those who act with integrity
and keep your ways in mind.

We have all withered like leaves
and our sins blew us away like the wind.
No one invoked your name
or roused himself to catch hold of you.
For you hid your face from us
and gave us up to the power of our sins.
And yet, Lord, you are our Father;
we the clay, you the potter,
we are all the work of your hand.

~ Isaiah 63

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Pillar of the Cloud

Labelled alien in her native land, distressed for friends now made to feel alien in their own country; she suddenly found a line to grasp for succour.

The Pillar of the Cloud
LEAD, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path, but now

Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

At Sea.
June 16, 1833

And, strangely, that led to a loved novel, the only one by Thomas Hardy that she could re-read many times. The concluding paragraph of the next to last chapter has a truth which very few that she knew paid heed to before plunging into engagement and marriage.

He accompanied her up the hill, explaining to her the details of his forthcoming tenure of the other farm. They spoke very little of their mutual feelings; pretty phrases and warm expressions being probably unnecessary between such tried friends. Theirs was that substantial affection which arises (if any arises at all) when the two who are thrown together begin first by knowing the rougher sides of each other's character, and not the best till further on, the romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard prosaic reality. This good-fellowship - camaraderie - usually occurring through similarity of pursuits, is unfortunately seldom superadded to love between the sexes, because men and women associate, not in their labours, but in their pleasures merely. Where, however, happy circumstance permits its development, the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death -- that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, beside which the passion usually called by the name is evanescent as steam.
~ Far from the Madding Crowd