It Came Upon The Midnight Clear

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heaven’s all-gracious King” –
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel-sounds
The blessed angels sing.

But with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring; –
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing!

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing; –
Oh, rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on
By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever circling years
Shall come the age of gold;
When Peace shall over all the earth,
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song,
Which now the angels sing.

Edmund H. Sears

10 (again)

Today I am 10, and on the anniversary of the day that I was born again I can look back on the last decade and you may be surprised to learn that in some ways it feels like they’ve been the toughest 10 years of my life.

If you ask me why I feel like that I can probably sum it up in one word – disappointment. I’ve been disappointed by individuals, by organisations and by circumstances. And yes, I’ve disappointed myself on a daily basis.

But the One who has never disappointed me is God. Do I wish that He would click His fingers once in a while and make things go the way I ask? Of course I do, but He isn’t a genie waiting to obey my commands. Do I long for Him to transform people’s hearts and minds and lead them to act more generously, graciously and lovingly? Yes, how I long for that, but as much as I love Him I still find myself stubbornly doing my own thing. How can I expect more of others than I manage myself? Do I want Him to speak to me, tell me His plans, show me the way? I do, but I know that I need eyes to see and ears to hear. Occasionally I catch a glimpse, but I don’t look or listen as much as I should. I must miss so much of what He’s telling me.

But He is with me. He always has been and always will be. He understands me and loves me and accepts me. Knowing these things, and knowing I am His, helps me through the difficult days, and years.

As I reflected on the last 10 years, the verse that came to mind was John 16:33. As I turned to my Bible to copy the verse I read the earlier verses giving context to this one and I felt they were equally important, so here is my birthday gift to you, John 16:16-33…

Jesus went on to say, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.’

At this, some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,” and “Because I am going to the Father”?’ They kept asking, ‘What does he mean by “a little while”? We don’t understand what he is saying.’

Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, ‘Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

‘Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.’

Then Jesus’ disciples said, ‘Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.’

‘Do you now believe?’ Jesus replied. ‘A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’