by: Rich Vaughan
Christmas is in 7 days! Katie, our Administrative Assistant will be going on maternity leave starting Monday, December 21st so I have just come to realize that this will be MY LAST DEVOTIONAL until January 4th, 2021. So what Christmas thought do I want to leave all of us with as we “travel” these last days ‘til Christmas morning? Well, 2020 has certainly been a year that will not rank as anyone’s favorite as we look back over time. It has been a year of a Pandemic, angry politics, divisiveness, protests, and quarantines in some form or another all year. We talk about Christmas as a time of joy and celebration and yet for some, this is a Christmas in which it is hard to experience that joy and celebration. Incomes have taken hits this year, COVID has caused many worries and issues. Politics has kept the left and the right stirred up, and if you have lost a loved one this year to death it makes this season even more difficult.
So, how do I help us recapture the wonder, hope, and promise of the Christmas message? Well, one of the Christmas songs that does that is called, “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Written by the great American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, it addressed a very hard time in America and in his own life. Longfellow wrote the words to this song on December 25th, 1863 while America was in the midst of a Civil War where brother was fighting brother. He wrote the words right after learning that his son, Charles Appleton Wadsworth received a near fatal wound at the battle of Mine Run in Virginia. In this time of darkness in America, in this time when the nation was divided and violence reigned, in this time when politics divided and hate seemed so strong, our nation’s poet Longfellow reminded us of something eternal.
“I heard the bells on Christmas Day their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.
I thought how, as the day had come, the belfries of all Christendom had rolled along th’ broken song of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head; ‘There is no peace on earth’ I said; ‘hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men’.
Yet pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.’
Then ringing, singing on its way, the world revolved from night to day – a voice, a chime, a chant sublime of peace on earth, good will to men!”
THAT is the story of Christmas! A story that God is here (Immanuel). A story that love reigns supreme and hope abounds eternally. A story of joy and a story of faith. It was true in 1863 and it is true in 2020. The words of my favorite Christmas hymn are true, “Joy to the world, a Savior reigns, let earth receive her king. Let EVERY HEART PREPARE HIM ROOM and heaven and nature sing”.
From our home and hearts (Debbie’s & mine) to all of you so special to us, my friends, family, and flocks-- HAVE A JOYOUS AND VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR! AMEN & AMEN!
See you January 4th, 2021.