For Lo! The Days Are Hastening On
There is less than a week until Christmas, and as I’m sure is the case for many of you, I still have so much to do! All of it is fun stuff, though, at least mostly. This afternoon I will be sewing Charlie’s stocking at my mom’s house, after picking up Christmas cards from Costco. My sister Marie came over yesterday to take our Christmas photos in front of our tree, and we chose a good one and ordered the cards last night. My sister Rose (12th grade) has a band and chorus concert that I’m going to at the high school tonight.
Tomorrow I will be addressing envelopes and hopefully getting them to the post office by the last mail pickup, although we’re going to try and hand them personally to as many of the people on our list as possible to save on postage. Tomorrow night I will be going to another band concert, this one for my sister Annie (7th grade).
Wednesday is my sister Jane’s sixteenth birthday, so Daniel, Charlie, and I will be going over to my parents’ for dinner and dessert. During the day on Wednesday would, I suppose, be a good time for wrapping some presents. Christmas cookies are a good project for Wednesday, too. Yum! I can’t wait.
And I think that about covers the remaining preparations for Christmas, physically speaking, anyway. There is no end to spiritual preparation, because there’s always more that can be done. Of course, that’s what we really should be focusing on anyway. Sunday’s homily at our church was about learning to cultivate a sense of longing for God this week, like the Jewish people longed for the coming of the foretold Messiah.
“In our culture,” our deacon who gave the homily said, “we don’t do longing very well.” We’re used to instant gratification for the things that we want; and the last week of Advent is so often spent rushing around and getting a million things finished before the holiday that the days fly by and we don’t have time for any longing. Children, perhaps, understand longing a little better than adults do… even if what they’re longing for is the presents beneath the tree waiting to be unwrapped on Christmas morning, and not so much our God’s coming in glory. So, this week, I’m going to try to make some time for longing.
I was reading an old Christmas carol book this morning that includes some of the less well-known verses of a lot of Christmas songs, and I was struck by the apocalyptic nature of the last two verses of Edmund Sears’ “It Came upon the Midnight Clear,” which resonates with the past couple of Sundays’ readings from Isaiah. I will share the lyrics of the entire carol to end. I wish all of you a very merry Christmas, from Daniel, Charlie, and me!
“It Came upon the Midnight Clear”
Edmund H. Sears, 1810-1876
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the heav’nly hymn have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And warring humankind hears not
The tidings which they bring;
O hush the noise and cease your strife
And hear the angels sing!
For lo! The days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever circling years,
Shall come the time foretold,
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.