A Celebration of Christ’s Birth

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A hushed anticipation of Christ’s birth settled over the sanctuary as we entered.  The stained glass windows appeared muted without the day’s sunlight to shine through them.  The lanterns hanging from the rafters cast a diffused glow over the assemblage, not quite illuminating the entire room.  The majesty of the moment held me in transfixed anticipation.

Soon, the chords of the first Christmas hymn rang forth
(select each song to share in this experience):

O come, o come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel...

Midst the reading of the story of Christ’s birth, we sang the songs related to each part of His coming:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:1-7

Away in a Manger,
no crib for a bed…

O Little Town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14

The first noel, the angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields way they lay…
(Be sure to click play with this link)

Hark the herald, angels sing
Glory to the newborn king…

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Matthew 2:1-12

Joy to the world, the Lord has come,
Let earth receive her king!

And finally, as the joy and reverence and awe crescendoed in the night, ushers turned down the sanctuary lights, leaving the minister at the front of the church holding one lit candle representing Christ who came to be the Light of the world.  Two ushers came forth and each drew light from the one, and row by row, Christ’s light passed from person to person.  From candle to candle.

The beauty of the candlelight drew us deeper in the reverence and awe of the birth of  Christ.  We sang:

Silent night, Holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round you virgin, mother and child
Holy infant, so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace.

We sang all of the verses, the glow of the candle flames dancing in the breath of our hymn.

At the end, the minister told us to:  “Go in peace and spread the great tidings that Jesus Christ was born.”

We exited, a profound hush settled over us.

This is how I spent my Christmas Eve’s as a child.  The candlelight service at my church grounded me in the truth of the season.  For a time, I forgot Santa Claus and the gifts under the tree.  The holiness of this service held me in its splendor well into the evening.

 

As you go into the night, remember:

Peace on earth and great joy to men!

Christ is born!

Note:  I Do NOT own the copyrights to any of these songs.
Thank you to all who have posted links to these beloved hymns.
Please support their work.

If you only watch one clip, watch the one for The First Noel.

Apologies for any ads that appear in the video links.
I tried to use links without them.

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Contest For Writers

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

This week has been really busy for us since our daughter got married on Friday. Lots of fun and excitement and not much time for blog posting. For that reason, I’m going to let my writing blog (An Eclectic Muse) do double duty:

I’m running a contest this week, deadline midnight (EST) Monday, April 10.  Each entrant will receive a copy of 10 Grammar Rules Every Writer Should Know.

One lucky winner will receive:

  • Writer’s Editing and Critiquing Tips pdf
  • 25% discount off of a proofreading or edit of your manuscript OR 50 pages edited for free
  • A copy of the Fall/Winter 2016 moonShine review

Odds of winning are very high right now! Check out the post for entry details. Please enter and share this post!

Inspiring Women: Remembering My Aunts

Last week, my Aunt Vivian passed away. She was 92. The picture below shows my mother’s family when I was a little girl.  Aunt Vivian is standing, fourth from the left. (I’m the kid seated to the far right on the front row.)

Back row L-R: my parents, Bob, Vivian, Great Aunt Locky, my grandparents, Wayne, Deloris, Bill, Barbara

Back row L-R: my parents, Bob, Vivian, Great Aunt Locky, my grandparents, Wayne, Delores, Bill, Barbara

As I prepared to attend her memorial service, the realization floored me that all of my aunts are gone from this world.  This led me to reflect on each one of them and their impact on my life. I had four aunts, three by marriage.  I knew some of them better than others, but each one of them was important to me.

We lost  Aunt Margaret, my father’s sister, first. She went early in life, and I’ve missed her laughter.  To this day, I can still hear her, probably because she brought fun and laughter everywhere she went. We carried on a pen pal correspondence when I was young and she never spoke down to me. Margaret remembered us at Christmas, too.  Her gift box, which arrived soon after Thanksgiving, contained beautifully wrapped gifts with tags that gave cryptic clues about our presents. It was delightful torture trying to figure out what was in the gift. I still have the sewing basket she gave me when I was ten and that year’s gift tag with its clue (see below). Aunt Margaret, also, played and taught piano. I took lessons for nine years, although not from her since she lived a long way from us, and she was a great encouragement to me.

An early family photo. Margaret is on the couch between my grandfather and her husband, Cody.

An early family photo. Margaret is on the couch between my grandfather and her husband, Cody. I’m on the floor on the left.

auntmargaretclueinside

The clue on my gift one Christmas.

 

About ten years later, I lost my Aunt Barbara, which, again, was way too soon. I identified with her because of our shared name. In our family, we had Aunt Barbara, my mom who went by Babs but was Barbara, and me. Her husband, my Uncle Bill, still reminds me that I have his favorite name. I didn’t know Aunt Barbara well, but I remember her as a practical and elegant woman who was kind to me. My best memory of her is odd.  We were visiting their home and my stomach started bothering me.  She gave me Mylanta, which I had never had.  My cousins wrinkled their noses and warned me it tasted awful. I liked the chalky flavor. I don’t use Mylanta very often, but I can’t see a bottle of it without thinking of Aunt Barbara.

My Aunt Delores succumbed to cancer several years later, yet, she too, went before her time. I remember Delores as  movie star gorgeous–elegant and graceful. She had two sons, and the youngest was the only cousin close to my age on either side of the family.  She always spoke to me as if we knew each other well.  We didn’t, but I appreciated her ability to make me feel comfortable and welcome in her presence. She was married to my mother’s younger brother, Uncle Wayne. Mom was very close to Wayne, so maybe that’s another reason I felt a closeness with Delores.

Which brings me to Aunt Vivian, the spitfire. Even the comments made at her service reinforced this part of her nature. She was married to Uncle Bob, an incorrigible jokester, so I think either he picked a spunky woman or she developed her spunk to contend with his antics. Vivian outlived her husband, a son, my parents, and her other two sisters-in-law. During her service, several people spoke. Her granddaughter’s words reminded me that Vivian shared something unusual with me:  raising grandchildren. However, Vivian’s significance to my life holds another place in my memory. During a family get-together when I was in my late twenties, she said to me, “When are you going to publish your book?” Surprised, I asked her how she knew that I write.  Her answer became the first lines in my writing bio:

Barbara V. Evers, began story-telling at the age of four.
She couldn’t read, so she roped others into taking dictation.

I have no recollection of dictating stories to Vivian, but she remembered it over twenty years later, enough to believe that I would be published. I was thrilled when I could finally tell her about my first publication.

Today, two of my uncles remain, Uncle Bill and Uncle Wayne, Mom’s oldest and youngest brothers respectively.

As we grow older, we begin to realize the impact of various people in our lives.  Each one of my aunts affected me in some way, either large or small, as did (and do) my uncles.

I was blessed to know them and find it hard to believe most of them are gone. I’m just glad they were part of my life.

Do you have family members who have made an impact in your life? If they’re still with you, make sure they know how much you value them.