Monday, December 10, 2012

Holy Night ~ Finding Christ at Christmas


Every year, as I pack up my decorations and reflect on the Christmas season that we just celebrated ... I wonder. It is a wonder that is filled with both joy and fear.

This wondering ... what will I (my family, friends, church, neighbors, country) be experiencing by the time this season rolls around again? What joys and sorrows will accompany me the next time I carry my Christmas tree up the stairs and begin to decorate?

I am turning 60 in a few days ... this is my 60th Christmas. And I have had all sorts of holidays.

From the Christmas we dedicated Jenny (just 15 days old) as part of our large Johnson family celebration (the privilege of Grandpa being your pastor) ... to the difficult Christmas that held recent memories of two family funerals. (my mom and my 30 year old nephew) 

I am sure that you have had Christmas seasons on all levels of joy and sorrow, as well.

What does all of this have to do with Holy Night? For me, the one consistency of 60 Christmas days ... is Christ. Christ in the joy. Christ in the sorrow. Christ in the known. Christ in the unknown.

Three ways to find (remember, celebrate, honor) Christ at Christmas:

1. The music of Christmas

The music of Christmas (both secular and sacred) can move my heart to deep worship. Sometimes it is the words and other times it is that beautiful chord progression, or amazing harmony.

Do not even get me started on a wee child's sweet voice or beautiful children's choir singing Christmas melodies.

I love the music at church, the music at Target, the music of the Salvation Army bell ... I love it all.

But my favorite, is the intentional listening to music at night (alone, with Dave, or with whoever is visiting.) Just the Christmas lights and a few favorite songs.

          *my favorite this year is Casting Crowns
           "Peace on Earth"

          *my favorite for many years is "The 
           Worship Medley" from The Brooklyn 
           Tabernacle "Light of the World." Often,
           Dave and I will listen to it on repeat ...
           for a very long time.

          *And, have you enjoyed a beautiful
           rendition of "The Birthday of a King"?
           (and so many others) 



2. The words of Christmas
  
I also, love the words of Christmas. 

When I was in the first grade, I memorized the Christmas story from Luke 2. Those lovely King James words are still in my head ... "and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger."

          *If you want a fresh perspective on the 
           Biblical narrative, read the Christmas
           story with children and act it out with your
           nativity set. (Dave and I borrow some children.) 

          *Have you ever looked at the Bible story
            through the eyes of the cigar smoking
            swearing children of the Heardman 
            family? (The Best Christmas Pageant
            Ever by Barbara Robinson) 

          *There are so many ways to enjoy the 
            Advent words, too. The books (thank you,
            Katharine) and the blogs (thank you,
            Diana.) When our kids were young, we
            loved Family Celebrations: Meeting Christ
            in Your Holidays and Special Occasions,
            by Ann Hibbard.

          *Have you ever looked at Christmas through
            the eyes of those who are grieving? This
            post is getting too long, so I will share my
            favorite comforting words from Decembered
            Grief, later this month.

3. And finally, the words and music of Christmas.

I love events that bring both music and words together. Our Sunday mornings at church, the wonderful Carols and Lessons of the season, and the traditional candlelight Christmas Eve service.

Wherever you are this season, I pray the lovely and haunting words and music of Christmas ... lead you to the Christ child.

image credit: night sky      



    

19 comments:

  1. What a thought-provoking post, Glenda. You've had good and difficult Christmases, as I'm sure most of us have.

    This year I've been more reflective than usual, a bit emotional and even teary-eyed, as so much is changing and change is almost always hard--even good change. Just 8 days after Christmas our middle son is heading to boot camp. A few days after that our oldest son (also a soldier) is headed to Afghanistan. And our youngest daughter will be heading to college in less than 9 months. And somehow, though I've been a mom for 32 years, it all seems like less than 32 minutes.

    So I'm doing my best to enjoy the moments, enjoy my family, enjoy the the gifts God has given me...from Christmas music to our fragrant Frasier Fir to holiday gatherings. He's in it all, and I'm grateful.

    Merry Christmas, friend.

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  2. Glenda: What a wonderful post! Such sweet and, sometimes sad, memories one can have of this season. When I was eighteen, we lost my beloved grandmother and an uncle the day after Christmas. Now when I remember them at Christmas it is with joy rather than sadness!! Today, I'll finish up with a few treats and begin decorating. Our children arrive on Saturday for an early celebration.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  3. Hello, my friend -
    Your Christmas posts are wonderful - very full of thought and reflection. I, too, am finding that I long to worship HIM this season. More than ever! And all the sights and sounds around me lead me back to the reason we celebrate. Thank you for sharing from your heart and for reminding us that no matter what the year has brought us - the joy and the pain - we have much to give thanks for. And celebrate. And worship!
    ~Adrienne~

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  4. Glenda, thanks for the wonderful post! It's a time of year filled with great memories and sad ones too.

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  5. My 2012 Nine Lessons & Carols fromthe choir of Kiing's College in Cambridge just arrived...nothing matches the sweet little boy voice singing "Once in royal David's city!"

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  6. In good times and bad... God never changes. And yes, the music of Christmas :) Love it. I am watching the Gaithers christmas video (an old one) almost every day!

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  7. I too love the music of Christmas ~ some of it makes me smile and some turn me into a mess of tears. I think my favourite is Christmas eve service when we pass out the candles ~ turn down the lights and sing Silent Night. There is me with a candle in one hand and a tissue in the other. I cannot wait to see your post on grief. One of my best girlfriends lost her Dad last year on the 20th of Dec and another is holding vigil at her father in laws side as I type ~ it is so hard any time of the year but the holidays seems to amplify the grief.

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  8. This is a gentle and peaceful post. Very lovely...thank you.

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  9. This post is as lovely as you are, Glenda. And you're so welcome.

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  10. Glenda, this is just what I needed right now, thanks! Have you heard the Getty's (Keith and Kristin) Christmas album. It is incredibly beautiful and points your heart directly toward Christ with their words and music. I think you'd love it!

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  11. Beautiful post. Thank you so much for helping me keep my thoughts on the important things of the holidays. This past weekend I was stopped in my tracks by the line "Said the little boy to the mighty king, Do you know what I know." That line washed over me with a gratitude for what I know and the peace and safety that knowledge brings to everything in my life...and how I ought to be more thoughtful to share it.

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  12. Dear Glenda
    This was such a beautiful post and I have to agree it truly hit home. I love how you write from your heart with no restraint. Have a blessed and beautiful Christmas my friend

    hugs
    Kate
    xoxo

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  13. Right (write) from the heart. Glad I found your blog, I am a new follower. If interested, I am having a GIVEAWAY on my blog if interested. Merry Christmas!

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  14. Oh, Glenda.... Your words. Your thoughts. Your honesty. Love it! I sang O Holy Night this past Sunday with Pastor Paul and Merle. I love that song and I love singing it with those two men!
    Blessings, dear friend!

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  15. Love this beautiful post. Hope you have a wonderful day! :)

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  16. love it all..not to long
    and yes...taking each day and intentionally fixing my heart to focus on Jesus and less on myself and all the "stuff"
    it is work..but it is the ONLY thing that keeps my going.
    I too..love all of what you love:)
    love ya!
    xo

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  17. What a beautiful post, Glenda! It warms my heart...the lovely and haunting words...beautiful.

    WHEN is your birthday?

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  18. Great post,Glenda.
    It made me smile,it made me thoughtful,it's a really heart warming note.

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