Advent is a strange ritual. As Christians we say we look forward to the return of the Christ child. But His spirit has suffused us all year so how is it to return. Did He go away the other eleven months? What exactly is it that returns to warm our hearts and put a light in our eyes and a spring in our step.
Let me share what Christmas means to me. Being a musician I'm reminded of all the religious and secular joys this Season arouses. There is participation in Handel's "Messiah" almost yearly from the time of my early teens. Not only the great words of God's incarnation into history, but also the accumulated stories of friends and strangers whose lives were changed by attending this oratorio. The amateur singalongs sometimes seem more fervently performed than the professional. The melodies pervading the ether are just more lovely than at any other time of the year I have also been privileged to perform in an area orchestral celebration and at our church.
Then there are the lights. From the decorating and lighting of the Christmas tree from medieval Europe to the elegant decoration of homes, the explosion of lights on lawns and front yards, to the most humble home that is illuminated by those on a small tree or a candlestick in the window, all proclaim that Light is more powerful than darkness, that Love is stronger than hate, that God is truly among us even when we resist His insistent wooing. During Christmas it takes a truly bitter person it seems to not be somehow touched even though the secular mode is so prevalent.
This is the season where families celebrate family. My sister is a new grandmother and it is wonderful to see the joy reflected in my brother in law and her faces as they welcome this second grandchild into the circle. Lib and I have large families on each side and so this is a special time for us. Through Christmas cards it is a time to connect, if briefly to past friends who were part of our earlier histories through Christmas cards.
My pictures begin with the simple creche at the front of our small church. It reminds of us of the events of Bethlehem. Next there is a small sparrow I managed to capture. Jesus reminded us that God is concerned even with non human life. It clings to the branch with tenacity and bright eyed inquisitiveness, while being watchful for the predators from the sky. A short life maybe filled with an instinctive fear that keeps it alive. but for the instant I clicked him we were both caught up in the same dance of life. The last pictures are of the beautiful homes lit to celebrate the Season. One near us has been tastefully, yet dramatically been illuminated the past several years. Several others are photos of other dwellings not far from us where a whole street has joined in proclaiming that it is Christmas. The last is Lib's decorating of our mantle and living room wall.So here, dear reader, is my wish for a Merry Christmas to you!
|our fireplace and mantle|