There are so many memories now of Christmases from long ago … and others from not quite so long ago. Music and candles, the Christmas story and excitement flood my memories of Christmas Eve. Some component of the three of us kids were practicing in the afternoon for songs to be presented in the evening. Mom was doing her best to keep us on task, while finishing the last few tasks for Christmas morning. Dinner would come early and then we would leave for the church.
Christmas programs were finished, gifts were purchased and (mostly) wrapped, and travel plans had been executed. After a few days away from school, we were excited to see our friends once more, knowing that the next time we did, there would be stories to tell and new things to show off.
A sense of reverence would fall across the sanctuary as people began to imagine the momentous occasion they were about to celebrate. The birth of a tiny boy in a manger, his parents were just simple folk. Such an innocuous entrance for one who would bring the light of God to all humanity. Jesus Christ came to earth … holiness descended upon the world.
I’ve shared this poem that Mom wrote in 1969 before. Parts of it may seem dated, but they really aren’t. We have been given the gift of love and reconciliation. How we choose to accept and honor that gift is up to us.
Dec. 13, 1969
Peace on earth! Good will to men!
The sounds ring out with bell-like tone.
Yearly, the tarnished words again
Stand starkly naked . . . alone!
Amid the tinsel, glitter, laughter,
The message of that grown Child
Who spoke of love, peace ever after,
The man who walked the second mile,
Is guiltily hidden deep down
Under mounds of gifts; pushed aside
By fur-clad shoppers who darkly frown
And snatch a bauble with greedy pride.
Peace on earth . . . a hollow joke
to children whose wide dark eyes,
Terror struck at a world blood soaked
Reflect the carnage and the cries.
Mars, god of war, with smoking gun
Stands on the corpse-strewn field.
Discord, his sister, Strife her son,
Triumphantly lift high the shield.
Peace! The lonely cry of long-haired kids,
Plaintive sounds of ancient songs,
Of gentle Friends . . . of Jesus . . . bids
Us hurry to right the devilish wrongs.
The perfect gift cannot be bought,
Nor gaily wrapped, but found again
Within oneself where love has wrought
The miracle: good will to men.
Lion and lamb, white man, black man;
Nations, people, reconciled;
Rejoice and sing, hand in hand,
to us was born that holy Child.