Monday, December 24, 2007

On the Night Before Christmas

This is The Episcopal Majority's second Christmas message to our readers. This year the Rev. David K. Fly (President, TEM) offers his reflections.

On the Night Before Christmas

Many years ago, on the night before Christmas, when I was a little boy, after my sister and I were sent to bed and the last light was put out, I would feel a tugging at the blankets that covered me and would find my younger sister standing by my bed. "Do you want to listen again tonight?" she would ask. And then she would crawl into my bed, and the two of us would sit very still in the dark and listen for Santa. "Do you think he will come?" she always asked. I, the older brother, would respond, "Of course he will come. Be quiet now and listen." There we would lie, snuggled up together in bed, listening for sounds of his coming. Occasionally one of us would say, "Did you hear that?" and we would each strain to catch the sound the other heard. At those times, I could hear the beating of my heart.

I remember one year in particular that my sister swore she heard sleigh bells. I didn't hear them but was so excited by what she told me that, by the next morning, I was confidently telling my mom and dad that I, too, had heard them clearly. But even on those nights when we didn't hear a thing, we believed that something wonderful was happening just beyond the reach of our hearing and even though it eluded us again for another year, we would soon wake to find he'd been there.

I don't think I've changed a lot since then. I have, of course, had my own children and often found them snuggled together, asleep in one another's arms after trying very hard to stay up all night to listen for the sounds of Santa. I still find myself being aware of those late night silences on Christmas Eve and I find that I am listening more intently than on most nights of the year. Perhaps tonight I will hear him too.

I suspect this image has come back to me this year because of all the noise that has been generated in the Anglican Communion in the past couple of years. We’ve all been talking so loudly we haven’t taken much time to listen. So, perhaps, tonight, we can simply be still and become aware of our own hopes and fears, doubts and uncertainties, needs and longings. What are the sounds we so desperately need to hear?

  • The cry of a baby to assure us of life's inherent goodness
  • The soft rustle of angels' wings to let us know we are not alone
  • The lullaby of a mother to her child to soothe our hurt and ease our pain
  • Or the ecstatic shouts of shepherds to share our joy that we have found the son of God
I cannot think of a more appropriate image for a night like this than that of children holding each other in the dark, listening for the one who is coming and knowing that even though he may elude them once again, they will awake to the wonderful signs that he has been and gone and their lives are filled with joy as a result. I would hope that the anticipation of children, of listening to our hearts beat with excitement would lead each of us tonight to the fulfillment of our dreams, our hopes, our longings.

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by. . .
How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given . . .
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord, Emmanuel!
Amen.

1 Comments:

Blogger liturgy said...

“In Mary God has grown small to make us great.”
St. Ephrem (d. 373)

Christmas blessings from one Anglican blog to another
Bosco Peters
http://www.liturgy.co.nz

12/26/2007 8:15 PM  

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