We have entered the season of Advent, the beginning of another church year. It is a time of eager anticipation as we await the birth of Emmanuel, God with us. It is my favorite time of the year – I love the sparkly decorations, the sweet treats, the familiar and heart-warming carols, the festive music of handbells and chancel choir. My head is observing all the signs that Advent is here, but today my heart is stuck in the bleak midwinter and feels more like it is the season of Lent.
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Paul, in Galatians Chapter 6, instructs us to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” For me, bearing the burdens of others at this moment is hard. Their burdens are painful. Their burdens are making me want to sing verse 3 of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day:” “And in despair I bowed my head: ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men’.”
Thankfully, the carol does not end after verse 3. Verse 4 assures us that God is not dead or asleep, wrong will fail and right will prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.
Despite the emotions of my heart today, Chancel Choir is hard at work on an anthem with a Latin text and a gospel-style partner song which pairs “Amen” with “Go, tell it on the Mountain.” Traditional Music and Contemporary Music are preparing pieces for the 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve service. Jubilation Bells participated in the Christmas in Warren County concert last night, and they will be going to The Landing of Long Cove on Wednesday evening to share the sounds of the season with the residents for the 5th consecutive year.
As we observe both our family and church family traditions and celebrations, let us be mindful that, for many people, the holidays – and perhaps this holiday season especially – will be different and difficult. Maybe holidays will be forever changed in some families. Let us be sensitive to the hearts of others as we Hear, Believe, Accept, Obey, and Welcome the Christ child this year.