The Rhythm of Christmas
By Bill Shurkey
"Gloria in excelsis Deo!"
"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." (Luke 2:10-11, KJV)
The angel of the Lord proclaimed this good news over 2,000 years ago and it's still proclaimed today. The angel's voice echoes in ringing church bells around the world. Choirs sing it. Pastors preach it and Christians share the message with a dying world. The Savior has come! That one unselfish act of the Father has made Christmas the single most important day in the history of mankind. Both young and old alike look anxiously forward to its yearly celebration.
Gift giving and decorations are widespread expressions of this joyous occasion, as well as food, drink, family and friends. Each country also has its own unique customs, which they've added to the celebration. These include an Advent wreath, plum pudding and other special food and a Yule log, to name a few.
If you live in Australia, you're participating in the popular Carols by Candlelight and singing out your hearts in the Australian heat. Those who live in the frigid climate of Finland, on the other hand, enjoy a joulusauna, a Christmas sauna, which must be completed by the stroke of midnight. Tradition has it that the devil comes for his sauna then.
Christmas is a celebration, a special time spent in special ways. No matter how we choose to celebrate it, songs and poetry are an integral part of the festivities. Who has ever gotten through the Christmas season without singing at least one favorite carol? Or joining in Handel's "Hallelujah" chorus? Most of our singing is off-key and either too loud or too soft, but we've felt better for having done it.
Then there's the poetry. Have you ever recited John Milton's "At Thy Nativity" or "The Holy Night" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, on Christmas Eve? Some familiar poems have also become favorite Christmas songs and can be heard, both recited and sung, around the world. The traditional "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is one. Another is Longfellow's "Christmas Bells", which later became the song, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."
Songs and poetry are as much a part of Christmas as mistletoe and holly. And no wonder! They lift the soul and cause our spirits to reach out to the Lord. What better time to express ourselves in this way, than during the Christmas season, as the Lord reaches out to us?
Celebrate with us this month as we raise our voices to the Savior. We have our first song to appear in Rhythm of Life this month, along with poetry that is sure to focus your thoughts on the true meaning of Christmas.
This is the season of changed hearts. Just ask Scrooge or the Grinch. I trust your hearts will be changed too as you embrace the Christmas spirit. Throughout the year the rhythm of life ebbs and flows, as we live each new day. My prayer for you, during this Christmas season, is that it flows ever upward. May joy, love and peace be yours now and always.
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Emmanuel God is with Us
By Bill Shurkey
E ternal God, earthen clay, what stripped away your glory? Was it
M easureless mercy, in the virgin womb, born this wondrous way?
M ary, Mary don't you see what the heavenly Father sees?
A n earthen vessel filled with love, poured out again for me.
N ursed in your arms, held close to your heart, sleeps the spotless Lamb;
U ltimate sacrifice, what child is this, born to die on a tree? Oh, but
E xalt him this night, with the angelic host, lift up your voices in praise.
L isten! Across the hills it explodes, "peace, good will toward all men."
G loria, gloria in excelsis Deo! God's Light, eternal flame, is born.
O come all ye faithful, come see where he lies, on a bed of musty hay,
D eep in sleep, dreaming of you and I. Behold the mystery. Make haste!
I n the city of David you will find your God. Go! Seek the Father's
S igns. Kingly robes of swaddling clothes; a manger his wooden throne.
W isemen start their westward journey guided by the brilliant star, while
I n the frosty fields, not far away, lowly shepherds drive their flocks.
T housands will come to bow at his feet, with millions more to follow.
H osannas will ring and lifted voices will sing, throughout the endless ages.
U nto us this night a child is born, hallelujah! Joy to the world!
S alvation's hope, the first Christmas gift, wrapped for all mankind.
Bill Shurkey is the editor of The Rhythm of Life. He has published over 100 poems in various publications, as well as short fiction, short nonfiction and a nonfiction book. His two passions are poetry and teaching children through fantasy and humor.
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