In my mind I’ve been playing over and over again the Christmas hymn, “In the Bleak Midwinter.” [1] The first stanza:

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

The hymn is not your usual Christmas hymn. It is solemn and simple. I think one reason I have been humming its tune is because of the year we have endured. 2020 is not your usual year. Neighbor against neighbor, a virus that is ravaging the world, and natural disasters that have plagued our land. This year has been a difficult year. Our surroundings can seem bleak and hopeless. Yet if history can teach us anything it is this; we’ve been here before.

Over two thousand years ago, the children of Israel were waiting for deliverance, waiting for hope and indeed Hope came, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. The Gospel of John tells it this way:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. [2]

My friends, God came to live among us, such a light as we have ever seen before, a light that darkness cannot overcome. There is real hope to be seen in the love of God, witnessed in the face of Jesus. This hope is Love, Love that came down for you and to me.

The final verse of this hymn goes like this:

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can give Him,
Give my heart.

My friends, God has given God’s heart to us, and now calls us to give our heart away, to the poor, the homeless, those in prison, and the needy, so be swift to love, make haste to be kind.

God Bless you.
Merry Christmas.

[1] "In the Bleak Midwinter" by Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830–1894) 
[2] John 1:1-5;14

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