Amidst all the the mad dashing and rushing, the pushing and shoving, the shopping, the wrapping, the sorely missed napping—it’s easy to forget that Christmas is a time of celebration of the birth of a tiny child on a cold winter’s night in the long long ago. And a time of preparation for the day when our King will return in glory to judge the living and the dead. To help us both, you and me, keep the true meaning of Christmas in mind, here’s a poem (see below) that was also written long ago by one of my favorite poets. Gustav Holst set the poem to music and the result is one of the most beautiful Christmas carols ever.
Have a very Merry Christmas, dear Reader, whoever and wherever you are! May your heart be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ Who is the Source and Summit of all love and all truth and all goodness, all beauty and all joy, forever and ever. Amen. (Poem follows.)
In the bleak midwinter
A Christmas Poem and Carol by Christina Rossetti
(December 5 1830 – December 29 1894)
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
Amidst the non-stop crises, the mad rush of driving and shopping and wrapping and running oneself ragged, one can all too easily lose track of the one thing that truly matters at this time of year: Christ. Christmas is all about Him, not us. About giving ourselves, whole-heartedly, to Him, not giving store-bought merchandise to each other. Now I like receiving gifts as much as the next guy and I love giving gifts too. But none of that compares to the joy of seeking the heart’s desire…and finding Him! And finding that He has been seeking you all along.
May your heart be filled with the Love that is the Source and Summit of all Love this Christmas season. And for all the rest of your days. And hereafter too. Merry Christmas and peace—true peace—on earth to all men of good will.
(You can hear one of my favorite versions of this carol performed by Annie Lennox on her new CD, A Christmas Cornucopia, which is one of my favorite Christmas CD’s ever. Even though she’s not a Christian, Ms. Lennox obviously loves the songs she selected for her CD, and, though I don’t agree with her criticism of the Church and the Pope, I think she does have a good heart and I like her music very much. Proceeds of the CD sales go to her charity to help and educate women and children in Africa who suffer from HIV/AIDS. I don’t know what all her methods entail, but I do think she genuinely desires to help the people there. That desire in itself seems to me a good thing.)