Sunday, December 18, 2005

In the bleak midwinter

This morning in worship at Central Presbyterian Church the prelude was a solo of "In the Bleak Midwinter" sung by Elena Egusquiza-Miller, one of the middle school young people in the congregation. Elena's participation in the choir along with that of other teenagers has been only one of the many wonderful things happening in worship at Central since Renee Shreffler arrived as our new organist/choir director. A couple weeks ago we were treated to a solo of "Lo, How a Rose" sung by Jessica Mriso. And I understand that there are additional musical treats being planned for Christmas Eve.

The prelude today ministered to me in a way that I have a hard time describing even hours later. I've commented to the congregation that this is a season when many people's feelings are close to the surface; I guess mine are, too. It was a good thing I had a member of the congregation leading the early part of the service, because I needed that time to get recomposed before I did my part.

All of the current fuss about which words Wal-Mart uses to greet its shoppers is so very shallow. If you want to hear a genuine Christmas greeting, just find a worshiping community where the members of the congregation are offering their various gifts to the glory of God.

In The Bleak Midwinter
by Christina Rosetti, 1872
In the bleak midwinter, 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 midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the Beloved with a kiss.

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 I give Him: give my heart.

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