“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

So the song goes. But it can also be a difficult time of year for many, what with memories, losses, and the often very high expectations of ‘comfort and joy’ through decorations, presents and food. It’s enough to make anyone lose their “fa,la,la,la,la…:, at least for a while. For those who have experienced the recent loss of loved ones, or major or minor changes in their lives, it can feel overwhelming.

In those times it is often helpful to breathe deeply, and to remember to be gentle with ourselves and with those around us. I often find bits of Carols run through my head: a line from a favorite reminds me to “… hush the noise and cease your strife and hear the angels sing…” (#90, Hymnal 1982) And the poet Christina Rossetti gives us, “Love came down at Christmas…” (#84, Hymnal 1982). Perhaps you have some favorites as well – gentle reminders for you of God’s love and peace in difficult times.

After the angels and shepherds made their joyous racket, they went away, and there was quiet and a time of peaceful rest for the Holy family. Their problems and challenges were still there, to be dealt with in the days to come. But there was also the quiet comfort and the soft joy of this new life, and the love of God, even in that crude stable.

In these busy days, when our hours and energy may be stressed with memories, or with all the last minute preparations, may we remember God’s abundant gifts to us of love and deep peace, and may we, too, find ways to be gentle.

Peace and blessing,

Carol

O come, thou branch of Jesse’s tree, free them from Satan’s tyranny that trust thy mighty power, and give them victory o’r the grave. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to the, O Israel ‘O’

Antiphon for December 19 — #56, Hymnal 1982