I'm not much of a facebook fanatic, but I've checked out my feed in the last week. And I'm sorry that I did. Because here is a summary of the messages that came through loud and clear to me: God wasn't there. Why bother praying? More guns, please, in the hands of common folk. God needs to get back in the schools. We are sin (yes, the noun!). Why doesn't God protect? Why is there suffering?
Some age-old questions that can make us wonder what, or if, we believe. Here's what I believe. There is evil in the world, even in my own mind. I am a child of God, created in God's good image. God has, and does, appear to us in surprising ways. Like as a baby born in a cave, visited by the lowest of the low, and by mighty kings. Last December, the children at our church were detectives of divinity - looking for glimpses of God's presence in the world. I need to be reminded of those glimpses again. God is with us. Immanuel.
One of my favourite Christmas carols is "I heard the bells on Christmas day." The track has been looping through my mind over the past few days, especially the 3rd and 4th verses. They speak powerfully to me every year. Henry Radsworth Longfellow wrote the lyrics on Christmas day in 1863, in response to the horrors of the American Civil War. His wife had died tragically a few years before, and his son had been severely wounded in the war.
Here are the lyrics:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
their old familiar carols play
and wild and sweet, the words repeat of
"peace on earth, goodwill to all."
I thought how, as the day had come
the belfries of all Christendom
had rolled along the unbroken song of
peace on earth, goodwill to all.
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, goodwill to all."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, and right prevail,
with peace on earth, goodwill to all."
Til ringing, singing, on its way,
the world revolved from night to day,
a voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
of peace on earth, goodwill to all.
So, on this longest night of the year, I will remember this: through the darkness, there is light. God is not dead.
December 21st: What will you remember on this darkest night?
The version below, sung by my friends "saffie":