Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Christmas Lights

As much as I really prefer longer days and more sunshine, I also enjoy the magic of the early darkness and the Christmas lights that are appearing on many buildings these days.  Those decorations often look bare and a little forlorn during the sunlight hours. Yet when darkness falls, the forms take shape and the spaces are filled in with the glow from the lights.

The tiny bulbs generally used each put out very little light on their own, so many are needed to produce much of an effect. When they are massed together in creative patterns, they brighten faces and bring delight to passers-by.

This past Sunday, we were talking about some of our favorite Christmas traditions.  One mentioned the Christmas Eve candlelight service that most churches offer.  Generally, at the end of the time of worship, the space is darkened, and the worship leaders will light their candles from the Christ Candle and then walk down the aisles, lighting the candles of those in the end seats. Quickly, the light spreads all through the meeting space as candles are lifted and we sing the familiar words of "Silent Night."  The words themselves bring us to the center of hope and holiness as we sing of the holy infant, of heavenly glories streaming around us, of redeeming grace coming from Jesus, Lord, at his birth. 

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Sometimes choirs will offer a descant such as this one as the congregation sings last verse:  "Peace, peace, peace on earth and goodwill to all. This is a time for joy, this is a time for love. Now let us all sing together of peace, peace, peace on earth."

Just hearing the music in my mind as I reread this words brings a sense of peace to me.  Peace--how we need it.  Peace, more than the cessation of war, it is the sense of holy connection among us. Peace comes from acting on the knowledge that we are all part of a family, and that our own lights shine better when we are connected to the lights of others.  Christmas lights--may we find peace each time you and I see them.

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