The day draws near as we make our way to the stable once again, and we are filled with joyful expectation that life will be renewed.  And it is, over and over and over. 

For many, Christmas evokes memories.  When I was a very little girl I would sit in our living room all by myself and look at the lighted tree and read or listen to music.  Last night, for the first time in days, I sat down, not at the computer which doesn’t count as “sitting down”, but in the living room.  The tree lights were on, the last act of La Boheme was on the radio; I read Steve Bouser’s piece in our local newspaper about Christmas in Russia when he and his wife and daughter lived there.  He said if he had ever experienced a miracle in his lifetime, “it was the resurgence of Christianity in Russia after so many decades of cruel repression.”  Earlier I had read Barbara Crafton’s Almost Daily e-Mo ( and laughed and resonated with her words about downsizing.  Check it out ~ in her indomintable way she hears “the voice with the steely love I recognize as the voice of God.”  I hear it every now and then and it quickly puts me in my place, such as my aggitation the other day as I sat in the Toyota dealership for 3 hours when I had at least a trillion things to do.  The voice said:  “but you have a car.”  We forget sometimes, don’t we?  Barbara was grousing that she has not unpacked all of the boxes filled with silver and teapots from her recent move.  The steely voice reminded her that “the Son of Man had no place to lay his head.  A woman in the Philippines surveyed the sodden pile of mud sticks of wood that was once her home.  A family arrives a the air base in Dover to claim the body of their only son, the last American casuality of the Iraq war.”  You get her message.  I did.

After the opera more beautiful music continued into the night.  “The Shepherd’s Farewell” filled the room, a lilting piece of music by Berlioz that is so plaintive that it makes my heart melt.   One futher memory as I thought of Johnny and our choir so often doing that lovely piece:  Father Hank and I would stand in the Narthex of the church quietly anticipating the first sounds of “O Come All Ye Faithful” before midnight Mass.  We would look at each other and each gulp down the lump that had formed in our throats.  We were well into the third verse before I could sing a note.  How will it be at St. Thomas’ in Sanford this year where I was graciously asked to serve one more time?   Our African friends will sing those words 7 hour before we do.  “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Sanford, North Carolina