Tag Archives: Lord

The Dearest and Best

Many times I sit and think about things that have been. I listen to music the way that it was. Most times I find that so many things were done right the first time. I love to enjoy the creativity of lyrics, words written, and music compiled beautifully. Then sometimes I delve into these things a little bit deeper, maybe just to feel them, or maybe to record memories that I’ll hold close to me for always. Then in this moment I was captivated by the simple words “the dearest and best”.

dearest: most loved or cherished

bestthat which is the most excellent, outstanding, or desirable Continue reading

Our Dear Marjorie

I was so happy to get home late last night. Mom and I made amazing time returning from an emotional afternoon spent in Woodstock, NB. We are so thankful for the opportunity we had to get up to Canada and celebrate Marjorie’s life with everyone, even if only for the afternoon. I rolled into my yard at around 11:30pm last night, after a 770 mile round-trip that had started some 18 hours prior. For my own personal reference, our family trip to the Outer Banks this summer to celebrate Mom and Dad’s 50th Anniversary was only a 714 mile ride to get there. Anyways, I move on.

I am far more exhausted this morning than I thought I would be, honestly. The drives are tiring, but the emotions and thoughts that overcome me on days like yesterday take more of a toll on me I think. Certainly, the combination is powerful, and I am feeling it today for sure. That said, I would do it again today if I had to.

Honestly, since I wrote the poem and tribute to Marjorie on Friday night, I think I have actually experienced more memories, more thoughts, certainly more emotions, and at least a few dozen moments wishing I could concisely share what rambles through my mind.

I will start here. To the family and friends who cared for, saw things through, planned and executed the last few days’ events, and who lingered until all got their fill, thank you. Thank you so very much. You’re all awesome and our dear Marjorie would have been proud I am sure, smiling somewhere just outside of the limelight, at all of you, the ones she loved so very much.

I pulled into a parking spot, assessing my own ability to park symmetrically between the painted lines, upon my exit of the vehicle. Truthfully, I could have squared the vehicle up a bit better, maybe giving myself a grade of a B- for the parking job, but I was tired, and too focused on getting across the street and into the awaiting funeral home to do anything about it then. That thought only stayed with me for a few steps thankfully.

Mom and I crossed the street and found seats, oddly enough next to relatives (pretty good chance that happens at any gathering where Peterson’s are present), once we entered the funeral home. I sat there, silent for the most part, looking around the room. I counted seats on both sides of the aisle, 9 on one side, 8 on the other. There were 8 full rows of 17 seats and then some more seats behind, a small standing room area, and then more seats off to the side. I saw people I knew, people I thought I knew, others I figured I should have known, and then others I knew that I didn’t know.

I glanced forward from my seat six rows deep. The distance was perfect I thought because being any closer to the open casket might have been more than I could of handled. I don’t really have a problem with seeing my loved ones in that state, but this time I had decided that the pictures I had in my mind from my numerous visits with Marjorie last year and this year were far more authentic Marjorie than anything I knew I would see again here on earth. I could see her from where I sat and I allowed my eyes to wander her way numerous times as a human being would be prone to do. Eventually the casket was closed and I wasn’t upset about that either. Before it closed though, I had told myself to focus my glances to the area around, and including, Marjorie’s lips for one very good reason, in my mind anyways. I had observed in recent years that Marjorie could say a lot in just the positioning of her lips. Happy. Content. Stern. Commanding respect. Pleased. These are just a few words that I felt she could portray without saying a word.

I noticed that the crowd was large, maybe 150 people or so. Many of these folks grew up with Marjorie, literally within a couple of miles of the old farm. Many, of course, were from the massive Peterson family, who mostly started their lives within a few miles of each other too. There were others too, people who Marjorie met and became dear friends with along her way through life. Maybe you’re impressed with crowds or numbers, and maybe you’re not. But I would be willing to bet that the numbers I would find most impressive would be something along the lines of the number one, and then words numbering a few. I’ll explain. The number one would be the answer to the question of Who or How many were at the center of Marjorie’s life. The One, God. That was clear and everyone knew it. Beautiful. Numbering in maybe a few would be the number of different words used to describe Marjorie if each of the 150 or so people present yesterday were asked to describe what she represented to them personally. I say “numbering a few” because Marjorie was Marjorie, to you, to me, to the old, to the young, to all. I found that she was consistent, she was constant, she was a Christian, and she was conscious. No matter how you would assess her, she was those things, over and over. She was Marjorie.

The service continued. The stories were shared. I thought to myself how privileged I had been. Privileged because almost every single story told, I had heard before. Not because I need to know it all, and clearly you must have figured by now, that I don’t know much. But because I had either heard the stories from Marjorie directly or in her presence, which of course offered her a chance to refute or to expand on any shared story. See; I was the fortunate one. As the stories unfolded, and the message was shared through words and song, my mind wandered, but never left the room. I thought more on Marjorie, her life, the impact she had and the legacy she left. Then I heard something I hadn’t fully expected to hear.

“There was a cousin…There was someone…Stephen Beal. Is Stephen Beal here…Can you raise your hand or stand up if you’re here…” Ummm, yes, I think that would be me, my mind answered. My hand went up. And from the podium I was asked if I wanted to read a poem I had written. Rising from my seat, I responded, “I’ll give it a shot.” Honestly I was hoping my legs would actually lift me and carry me to the podium at the front of the room. They did. Thankfully.

In total honestly, the next, I have no idea how many minutes I was up there, were and are a total blur to me. In my mind I picture a tornado spinning quickly, randomly, spilling forth a few words here and there, none of which make sense together. That’s how I remember my moments at the front of the room until I started reading the poem. The poem, which was really some rearranging and rewriting of the words of an old Ray Charles/Willie Nelson song, that for some unknown reason I had connected to the state of Marjorie as I pictured it in the moments before she was called home. This summer I had visited with her in July and she was so calm as it related to her end of days. Somewhere in my mind’s eye, while listening to the original song and lyrics, a picture started to develop in my imagination and the words followed. Ultimately it became a simple revision to the words of the song, a poem if you will. The poem, I renamed simply, Seven Irish Angels. I read the first verse and I think it went alright. Then I heard what I thought was someone in one of the front rows, let out a sob, then another. I paused. The pastor (sitting behind me) prayed a one line prayer for me, I heard it, and it helped me get over the lump in my throat and I finished the little poem. I think I said something mildly coherent upon finishing the poem and I returned to my seat. I was happy that nobody escorted me from the building as I felt my performance was probably worthy of sitting out in the parking lot until the grown ups were all done.

I poke fun at myself and try to stay grounded completely. I try not to pretend to be something I am not. With complete sincerity, I am deeply honored and genuinely thankful that I was called upon yesterday, and it will be a memory, blurry or not, that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. Thank you all for the opportunity to be included in the celebration and remembrance of our dear Marjorie.

Marjorie’s daughter-in-law Sherry, whom I had never met before yesterday, called me at home on Saturday and asked me if I was coming up to the funeral, and if I wouldn’t mind sharing something from the things I had written during the service. I told her I honestly might not get through it because I do get emotional pretty easily about things near and dear to my heart. But I wasn’t opposed to it either. I never did hear what the final plan was until I was sitting in the service and my name was called. Which, honestly, was completely perfect.

Before I went up front to fumble around with the seemingly millions of thoughts running through my mind, none of which included reading the poem, and sometime since Saturday’s phone call, I had been thinking about being in the presence of Marjorie. I had shared the news of Marjorie’s passing with another friend of mine while at my son’s hockey game on Saturday evening. I described to her how I felt to sit down, alone, and just to talk with Marjorie. And had I the time, and control over my mind at the front of the room, I would have shared something like this.

We all have our place. Our place where we can melt into the backdrop just a little bit, and just be. A place where time doesn’t seem to be measured and, if it is being measured, we really don’t care. A place where sound is optional. Silence is golden but so is any other sound in this special place that we allow to reach our ears, or our conscious minds. A place where upon arrival little effort is needed to just be there and take in the things we find so special about the place. One such place for me is alongside a cold, gentle flowing, quietly babbling, forest stream. Seeking out the hollow of an old stream-side tree, or the comfort found on a moss covered log or stump where I can rest my weary bones, ease my saturated mind, and listen to the things I feel like letting in, all of which come directly from the creatures and landscapes that God Himself created. So, as I mentally cozy up to this little stream, this place where I can just be; I think also of time with Marjorie. Sitting with Marjorie, to me, was a similar experience. There was peace. There was calm. There was no agenda or preconceived anything. In her peace, behind her smile which shone through her eyes, you knew there was something bigger, something better, that she fully knew, understood, and trusted. She was at peace with God. And so, there was just time spent with her. I don’t think it would have mattered whether words were spoken or not, I think being around someone so unassuming, so completely at peace, and so at ease being in her own skin, was a refreshing trip all in its own.

Back to the service…back in my seat…back in my mind…I was sure I had butchered the entire time I spent up front. Trying to focus, gather myself, and listen to my three cousins sing Because He Lives, I realized that I had quoted lyrics from this same song in the tribute I had written three nights before. Wow! That’s pretty awesome I thought.

Quickly, or so it seemed, the service came to a close and it was time for the immediate family to proceed to the cemetery for the burial. The rest of us would cross the street and await at the family reception set up in the church cafeteria/gymnasium of sorts.

The reception, I was anxious to attend. This was the time and place to meet those I had not yet met and to visit with the many dear family members, among others, from the generation I so revere. What came next was more than I could have imagined and was more proof to me just how feeble my mind is and how singular my thoughts can be. I thank God because the picture He sees is so much bigger than the picture I see and I am so glad to have the relationship with Him that I do. He is great. I am nothing without Him. As it should be.

I picked a seat in the corner and although I had already driven more than 370 miles and sat through a funeral service to get to this seat, I just wanted to sit. Well sort of. I also wanted to visit with family. I wanted to stand and give loving, supportive hugs to those so many around me that I love so much. I wanted also to stand and talk with people while visiting, but for the immediate future, I just wanted to sit. So I did.

Family filtered into the big room. And I don’t think the background matters no matter where we might be or for what reason, when I see those familiar faces present, the place is more secure, it’s safer, it’s better, it’s more friendly, and more importantly, God is among us. Mostly they migrated toward the corner of the room that Mom and I, and a few others were already in. I stood, I gave hugs. I visited. I laughed, we laughed. I received a lot of attention; attention I was not expecting, nor was I looking for it. I was pleased and relieved to receive positive feedback regarding my time up front. I shared with my Aunt, as I had earlier in the day with my Mom, that I felt we were in the right place by deciding to make the trip to attend. I explained my justification by saying that when I am 80 years old I would not like to look back at the last 48 hours and wonder how it was possible that I could not have been there. Then Marjorie’s immediate family returned from the cemetery to join us all.

More people than I can remember meeting, introduced themselves and offered positive words about my time up front, about the choice of song to rearrange words too, and also to share the emotions upon reading what I had written as well as their own connections to Marjorie. I was overwhelmed. I was humbled. I was deeply honored. I was talking to one person after another. Did I mention how humbling this was? Wow. Overwhelming to say the least. In my mind, I was just another among many who was fortunate enough to know Marjorie.

I just wanted to be big and strong enough to hold up anyone and everyone in the immediate family who had pretty much been at Marjorie’s side day and night for hours, and days at a time as her time drew near. I wanted to be the assurance that everything was going to be okay and to redirect the suffering and pain toward the glory Marjorie now understood fully. I wanted to hug and to hold the sisters until their weary, saddened faces were alive and bright again with loving smiles. I wanted to be the man in person, not just behind a tribute or a poem, to her boys and their spouses of whom Marjorie spoke so often and spoke so highly of. I wanted to be the message anyone needed to hear, or to be the living example of how I felt about dear Marjorie. I had asked God for strength, for peace, and for direction in all of these matters. He delivered.

I write because I have found that after many years on this earth that I actually enjoy it. Nobody from my school days would ever believe it to be true, but it is quite true. In these situations I write also to feel. Yes, I cry. I cry a lot when I write on these matters, these tributes, these memories, but I figure if I can’t cry by immersing myself wholly into these scenarios where others flee for the fear of feeling pain or due to the real uncertainty of where their loved one may have ended up, then when am I supposed to feel, to cry? I jump in and let the feeling, the pain, the joy, the whatever it is just wash over me and allow each second upon second to fully develop revealing ultimately, peace with the situation. I also talk to God a lot in these moments. A lot. It’s how I deal with it. I truthfully hope that my sharing then is a help to others in some way, shape, or form.

My parents don’t know this fully, I don’t think, but there’s some history here for me. When I was a boy I would often times sit at the desk in my room and write out simple sermons that my Dad might be able to use from the pulpit. I think I only gave him one actual sermon in writing of which I am sure he didn’t use, but he thought it was good. I wrote out others, and wrote still more thoughts and ideas that never formulated into anything of structure. My Dad, my Uncle, and my Grandfather were all preachers, among others. Honestly I can say that as my father’s oldest son, I never did want to be a preacher. Nor, did I ever become one. But I did pray often, throughout my whole life and even into the present, for the opportunity to be the message or share a message, or to somehow possess the tools in order to do either. Now, as I alluded to before, I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and I don’t always see the forest through the trees, and I am certain I have missed signs, ignored them, or misread them, or all of the above over the years. Writing though seems to be a medium by which I have been able to reach people and share a message, a mindset, a belief, a faith, or even a way of looking differently at things that perhaps should have been noticed all along. I can’t say for sure really, but I share my perspective honestly.

So, there I was in the corner of a big room, in a church in which I had never been in before. There were many, many people around me that I knew well, many I knew of, and many I didn’t know at all. The outpouring of thanks, and recognition of similar perspectives, among heart-felt feelings for our dear Marjorie followed me all around the room. I am still overwhelmed and humbled by all of the greetings, kind words, well wishes, warm thoughts, hugs, tears, outpouring of emotions regarding this person we all loved so much, and on it goes. I told many of you that there were more thoughts I might share. I just needed to try to arrange this load some. Hopefully, among these more than 3500 words I have shared here, there is some resemblance of organized thought here with what you are reading.

Finally, this isn’t about me. This about our dear Marjorie and even more important than that, it’s about her faith. Because to know Marjorie and not know her faith was to have never met Marjorie at all. These last few months, or even years, Marjorie showed us, even if we were barely paying attention what a presence God had in her life. No one in their sane mind having gone through what she went through over the last few years could sit across the table from me and talk in complete peace, with laser focus, unwavering courage, and the gentle smiling eyes of a farmer about their own mortality without the knowledge of an eternal Saviour and the faith in our Lord. That is what this is about. Marjorie was just one of the Lord’s vessels from which we could each drink. I am a better person for having spent time with her. I am thankful for her life and I cannot wait to see her again some day. Our dear Marjorie.

The Beginning and the End

The Lord said, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
But I sit here thinking on and longing for the good ole days, the past.
 
Where does faith go when we think too much, and get caught up in the pace of society?
Information comes and goes so fast that we barely hold on, so we search again just to see.
 
I am a man in awesome wonder, at times life gets in and my mind slips into constant wander.
Praying just enough to keep from freezing solid from mental strain, opportunities I squander.
 
Where’s my trust…”whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord…”
So many things converge at the same time, have I walked when I should have soared?
 
I look into four fresh, young, bright eyes and I wonder if I am worthy of their care.
In these times we can know all about the places we go, having never even been there.
 
In the days of my youth time marched along but with it came a pace, the days, our own.
Now news travels faster than the facts themselves, we fear things we should’ve never known.
 
“Submit to God and be at peace with Him…” for its here you’ll find there’s always a friend.
In the darkness, there is light, He’s got this, for “He is the beginning and the end.”
 
The earth spins; light glows and fades, here on earth only man creates the absence of light.
No matter the corner we’ve backed into there’s always two choices, one which is right.
 
Commotion bellows all around me, I find solace in this little space between me and these keys.
I know God is listening, for when I wander; I’m reminded of His splendor evident in the breeze.
 
I give my troubles to Him …”for vain is the help of man”…I on my own can only descend.
“Through God we shall do valiantly…”and only He holds all, “the beginning and the end.”

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:6

Job 22:21

Psalms 60:11-12

Revelation 22:13

 

If that time has come

One way I often hear people relate to getting older is by learning, hearing of, and discussing news of friends, family, and loved ones becoming ill, or even passing away. In that regard, I am getting older too. But these things, these happenings, these pockets of news we wish not to hear, or hope somehow will never happen to us, have been happening all along; regardless of our age.

I am in my mid-40’s now and hope that’s only half way, at most, through my life here on earth. There’s still so much to see, so much to learn, so much to do, I have yet to scratch the surface. So, it is for a long life here on the most beautiful place under the heavens that I hope to grow, learn, enjoy, and share.

As for the news that comes our way, of the hurting, the suffering, the dying, and those who have spiritually left this place, I think of it in my own way. I pray for the suffering to end, for the dying to heal, and for those who have passed, to have found their Lord and Saviour and started their walk with Him. For all others, I pray that their life is long and fruitful here on earth, and their walk here is close to the Lord, as I pray for my own.

If that time has come, whether we can explain it or not, and a person’s life here on earth ends, then I truly hope that their life was long and fruitful. Similar definitions of the terms long and fruitful we would all probably formulate and agree on. However, these things are not up to us, and when it’s time, it’s time.

All of us have experienced, or will one day experience, the news of someone we hold dear who has passed away. Until then, and especially at that time, I will long for the time described here; And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away – Revelation 21:4.

 

 

Beautiful Innocence

I sit here at my keyboard tonight, trying to procure rationale from the chaotic swarm of thoughts swirling in my head; In doing so, I try to separate the thoughts of anger that bubble up in my attempts to understand the how and the why events like this can happen. Somewhere over time, I have tried to be better at facing the things that bind my mind and twist my intellectual limits to the maximum, and just think on them, inside and out, backward and forward. And sometimes I win, and peaceful rest finds my cranial capacity for a time, and another battle is won at least for that night. Sometimes I write and let the words go where they take me, hoping that the vastness of constant thought presents itself in a manner that is legible, understandable, and worthwhile. Lest I waste more time not getting my thoughts out in the form of words strung together, I move forward, not sure of what will show up on this screen next.

I think of any smooth-faced five-year old boy who shows up at his school not because it was his plan or thought, but because that’s how his parents have explained to him that his days must be spent, for now. Nevertheless, he shows up, smiling, trusting, and innocent; looking forward to the days’ promise as explained yesterday by, some larger than life figure, known as his teacher. He believes all will be well because each day he’s left at this place with a kiss and a promise. And the beauty of his human spirit, instilled in each of us, develops a little bit more every single day, and his innocence is both beautiful and sought after. For innocence is purity, debased not, and nothing is more beautiful. Sought after, only because the beauty of purity is tarnished for all time once it has been contaminated or otherwise compromised. And knowing these things the boy’s well being is entrusted in this place day after day in hopes of his safety certainly, and the maintenance of his fragile, lovely innocence. He doesn’t know he carries this innocence, he just knows he is, and in being him, he smiles, he loves, he feels, and he learns. He openly displays his lack of fear as he knows no difference, and his purity glows about him as adults watch in the blur of warm fuzziness while recalling their own youth and wishing for that pure innocence once again.

Then one day, it was today maybe, that innocence was stripped away. And worse yet, the little boy with no fear learned to fear in an instant. Maybe he had seconds to process the feeling, this new thing that he wasn’t familiar with, this feeling that his parents hoped would only come in appropriate doses, as needed, but maybe never be completely developed. And this precious little face, where nuzzling, hugs, and kisses were never far away, fell silently, forever to sleep. This little boy’s life was taken away. The boy who, now would be denied, the chance to learn why the adults looked at him with silent smiles and sparkling eyes, all because of a random act of selfish cowardice. The boy rests next to Our Lord tonight.

Here on Earth, we have more questions than we have answers. Investigations will uncover all that they can in order to explain the things that can be explained. All I can surmise is this: The act is one of selfish cowardice.

Selfish: devoted to or caring only for ones self; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

Cowardice: lack of courage in facing danger, pain, or difficulty

Perhaps my words are an understatement, perhaps they sum it up. I know it’s not that simple, but it also may not be that complicated either. A young man, who may have started his life, not much different from the five-year old I have described above, was the reason that innocence was plucked from its beautiful place, and life was taken. I will not dwell on the reason, cause, or my interpretation of the dark, ugliness presented in human form in Connecticut today, as his choice to live life as he did today, renders him as completely insignificant in my book. Any and all attention devoted to this evil act should be replaced instead with thoughtful prayer, loving communication, and the spiritual commitment necessary in taking the road to heaven, and all its promise. Heaven welcomed several children today, sent along their way by the evil that is capable of dwelling within us if we so allow it, and those children; who are loved, cherished, adored, deeply missed, and mourned, will also be waiting in all of their glory for any and all of us who join Our Lord one day in heaven.

I wasn’t sure how to start this, and I am less certain on how to end it. I have cried many, many tears over the hours I have taken to untangle the mess in my mind. I will hug my children tighter, kiss them a little bit longer, and notice them in their beauty a little more alertly, like many parents around the world. I will again cry as I try to place myself, mentally, into the shoes of parents and survivors from the horrific scene in Connecticut today. As my parents have taught me, and as my family, far and wide, have reminded me, when the questions come faster than the answers, and relent is nowhere near, just pray. Pray.

Dear Lord I come now to you in prayer. I pray for the strength, wisdom, and direction to be a positive difference in every way I can, in hopes that many, maybe thousands, or even millions, will stomp out evil where we can by being the difference in someone’s life. As I have written many times before, it’s important to remember that we don’t know when we are being the example that other’s need to get through this battle or another, so it’s better to be the example as a matter of the way we live our lives. Lord, I pray that I will never be the example of human nature that let someone clinging to one last hope, fall, stumble or fail. Lord, I realize this may be a massive responsibility, but I believe that we, all of us, need more examples of responsibility in the hopes of making differences all around us. Amen.

I honestly cannot share effectively through these typed words how emotional it has been to write these thoughts out. I sob, in tears, thinking of our future, these children, who have been slain, especially in the places where we have been taught to feel safe and nurtured. I sincerely hope this hasn’t been too much for anyone to read through. Many of the images and thought patterns I have tried to compose here, have been gnawing at me since I first heard of this tragedy earlier this afternoon. I feel sickened by the evil that manifested itself today, and my emotional response is sincere and is as thoughtful as I know how to be. I observe. I think. I write. And tonight I cry, and I pray for all of those folks affected by the tragic events in Connecticut today. But mostly I cannot free myself from the thoughts shaping the pictures in my mind’s eye of that most beautiful innocence and its unauthorized loss.

 

Thanks #2 (God)

This should have come first. I am thankful for God who sent his Son to save us from our sins. The daily reminders of His power, grace, love, and patience are evident all around me. Thank you Lord.

Sunday Series – Christmas Edition – Silent Night

Silent Night. The most famous Christmas song of all-time. The lyrics of this song started as a poem written in the early 19th century by an Austrian priest. At the time the little village on the Salzach River was split with half going to Bavaria and half going to Austria in the same year the poem was written. Today the village on the border of Germany and Austria has around 5,500 residents nestled on the edge of the Austrian Alps. It’s a small village in a small European country.

So how does a priest in a small Austrian village pen the words to the most popular Christmas song of all-time? Well I guess the melody helps a bit. Mostly, in my opinion, it’s the words. It’s the message. Short and sweet. The message of Christmas.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace
 

This is how I picture the scene. Silent. Calm. Bright. Tender. Mild. The presence of a Holy infant. One meaning of the word holy is awe-inspiring. In this way infants are holy in general. Few living things generate the emotional attachment shown in feelings like an infant. Sleep in heavenly peace. Heavenly. Peace. Heavenly can be supremely delightful. Peace, among other things, is a calm and quiet state, free from disturbances or noise. Baby Jesus, mother Mary, sleep in a supremely delightful, calm and quiet state, free from any disturbance. I think that is beautiful. What a picture it paints. It’s Christmas morning, the Son has been born. Rest. We in reverence, would be better off to pause now and again to think on these words, this meaning, and drink in the message. Let the calm, let the peace wash over you. Smile and feel better for it. Share the Word.

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born
 

I look on this as the awesome night display allowing the shepherds to find that tiny manger. Imagine the stillness of that night, the pre-dawn hours, and then the glorious sights and sounds erupt from the heaven’s. I too, would quake.

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
 

God gave us the first ever Christmas gift, his Son. The reason for every Christmas over the last 2000 + years. It will always be the reason. Don’t forget it. We take; we hurry; we worry; we wrongfully place importance on ourselves; we overlook the simple, the beautiful, the obvious, in the name of the Christmas season. The greatest gift has already been given. We need not focus on the material things that come to the forefront of our focus this time each year. Gifts that are things, given to one another are great, and we should count our blessings. Gifts aren’t always things, and things can’t be taken with us when the roll is called up yonder. Focus on the reason, not the things. Give of your time. Give of your own gifts that God has blessed you with. Give of your self. Give gifts for the right reasons.

Love’s pure light. What a great combination of words. Love in its truest form is about as pure as it gets to begin with. Light makes the world function. Our entire ecosystem thrives on light. Light is used to lead when all else is dark. Our light was given to us that first Christmas morning. There is no reason short of our own imperfections to ever be spiritually lost. There is a light to follow and it’s up to you and I to follow. Nobody can stop us.

Dawn of redeeming grace. The word dawn carries a meaning that I think we all get. Maybe it’s too early for us to be awake, up and about, but we all know it means a day anew. A fresh start. Opportunity. Out with the old, in with the new. Redeeming is a great word, meaning compensating for faults or flaws. Thank you Lord for your redeeming grace. I know it’s not easy to love me with all my faults and flaws. I have talked about grace in a previous post, Sunday Series – Amazing Grace. Infinite love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to mankind by God. Wow! Love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to us by God, with a design in compensation for any faults or flaws we have, given to us in amounts that cannot be measured. If that’s not a reason to get past our own hang-ups, our fear of unworthiness, our carefully thought out excuses for why we can’t pursue love’s pure light, the Way, the Truth, then we truly are trying not to.

I think it’s worth noting the last lines of the song. Jesus, Lord, at thy birth. There’s only one Jesus. There are and have been many lords. But there is only one Lord. And He was Lord at His birth. There was no growing into a title given to him by another human being who was created in the same image. He is Lord, He was Lord, He was born Lord. He was not born of any royalty we can relate to. His birth was a gift to us all, He was Lord to a heavenly throne. The only throne worthy of bended knee. This gift, overwhelming power and greatness, came to us here on earth on that first Christmas, a silent night.

I have shared my thoughts on this song, this message, this meaning. As I sit here listening to various versions of the words being sung I can’t help but think of reverence and passion. Many have sung its words and I love when the words are sung with passion and conviction. I may be the only person I know that has the band Manowar in my Christmas playlist, but, to me, they sing a great, passionate version of Silent Night. There are so many versions of the song, like this Silent Night. No matter what your favorite version might be, this season is still all about the first Christmas, a silent night. Sometime on Saturday night, or maybe even in the first morning hours, I will sit in the dim glow of Christmas lights, in silence, and pray. I will enjoy a calm and quiet state, free from disturbances or noise, and I will think on the Lord Jesus and the meaning of Christmas. And in doing so, my Christmas will be that much better. I can’t wait for Silent Night.