December 2021: From The Minister’s Carol Sheet
Last year Christmas congregational singing was not on the menu. At the time of writing, this year we are able to ‘Come and worship’ (see Ding Dong Merrily on High). Thus Christmas will feel more normal apart from
- The lack of HGV drivers;
- Logistic failures at the supermarkets;
- Sky high heating bills;
- People with ideas of changing the world’s diets calling the odds come the Christmas dinner
- The high street full of bargain hunters before the Christmas washing-up has seen the sink.
I played some Christmas music a few days ago while doing something which did not need a lot of concentration. One of the pieces came painfully to mind the same evening. The news was reporting on Belarus and the refugees who have been used by one ‘modern State’ to infuriate others.
The carol that came to mind was:
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
(107 in Hymns and Psalms)
When Christina Rossetti wrote this she was imagining she was painting a picture of an English landscape and did not believe that Jerusalem had had the gritters out. But The welcome for Christ was not warm and welcoming from a chosen people, and the hymn suggests that the earth was covered in snow to conceal the sin that is everywhere. There is celebration in Christ’s coming but the picture for many is bleak because they fail to welcome or know Christ.
The conditions for the refugees are bleak, it has not yet started snowing but it will come. This group defiantly don’t want a white Christmas. Rulers on both sides stand hard as iron wanting to force an issue or hold a line while looking over those in peril. Their choices spring from evil or the thought they can behave as they please.
Christmas should be a time of joy; the celebration should be long lasting, let us not be tempted to dispose of it as rubbish no long needed. There is a lot in this hymn including the second coming ‘heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign’. But it’s the simple request for a real gift we can offer Christ which comes at the end of the hymn that is so poignant. ‘Yet what can I give him - my heart’.
Politics and immigration aside, which are difficult questions of the day, I hope leaders will find heart for families and desperate people who have run out road. I hope that the arrogance of men in power fades in the horror of what is being seen happening at their command. May Christmas have real power in all our lives. May there be peace on earth.
From Brian and Sara, Charlotte, Emily, and Flora