From Rev. Grayde Parsons, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA):
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Angels, announce with shouts of mirth Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming with the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today: Love the Lord is on the way. (Presbyterian Hymnal #12)
People, look east: Once more, dawn is about to break upon us in the birth of the Messiah. Once more, God-with-us is about to be born in our hearts, illuminating our lives and this world with the brilliant warmth of God’s peace, justice, and hope. Love the Lord is on the way.
Eleanor Farjeon, a British children’s author who penned the Advent hymn, “People, Look East,” as well as “Morning Has Broken,” had to have been a morning person. I imagined her skipping her way down a garden path on a sunlit morning – until I read more about her life.
Farjeon was a shy, home-schooled child in poor health with poor eyesight who spent the majority of her days in an attic stacked with books. Apparently, her infirmities did not dampen what had to be a resilient spirit, even in the midst of the cold, harsh reality of winter: “Birds, though you long have ceased to build, guard the nest that must be filled. Even the hour when wings are frozen God for fledging time has chosen.”
This year’s Advent and Christmas seasons are accompanied by the cold, harsh reality of winter – literally and figuratively. A poor economy and lean job market, growing numbers of homeless and hungry families, the continuation of wars, a rising number of suicides, threats of terror, and more.
Perhaps we, too, retreat up to the attic. There, we rummage around and find treasures, among them the carefully packed nativity set that has been passed down for generations – generations that have seen ups and downs, comings and goings, springs and winters.
Once more, we will position that resilient crèche in a prominent place. Once more, it will remind us of a miraculous story: An angel of the Lord tells Joseph, “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’” (Matt. 1:23).
People, look east: Once more, Love the Lord is on the way!
The peace of the Christ child be with you and yours.