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First Parish Universalist Church
790 Washington Street, P. O. Box 284, Stoughton, Massachusetts 02072 
(781) 344-6800
Worship: 10:30 AM
Church School: 10:45 AM

Heaven and Nature Sing

Rev. Jeffrey Symynkywicz, December 24, 2010

The philosopher Nietzsche once said that “Without music, life would be a mistake.” More recently, the poet May Sarton put it this way: “There are days when only… music will do. Under the light of eternity, things, the daily trivia, the daily frustrations, fall away. It’s all a matter of getting to the center of the beam.”


Music draws out our deeper connection with all existence. It moves, more nimbly and effectively than mere words ever could, into the deeper recesses of our beings. It speaks (or perhaps sings) a truth beyond words; it connects us with the beating heart of the universe itself, perhaps.


And at no time do our souls sing more exuberantly than at Christmas. We all have those examples of Christmas music that we love the most—carols and songs and cantatas. (If truth be told, I’m sure that we all have Christmas music we loathe the most, too: I challenge anyone to tell me the spiritual significance of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”.)


But there’s more to love than to loathe. And when I hear the opening strains of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, or Handel’s Messiah (of course)—or when I hear Mario Lanza sing “O Holy Night” or Jessye Norman sing “O Come O Come, Emmanuel”--  it is as though I am transported back through all the Christmases that have come before to that very first night, back in Bethlehem, long, long ago.


Indeed, Christmas itself is a song that sings in our very beings, immemorially, immortally, forever and ever. On Christmas Eve, it is as though heaven and nature itself sing forth—sometimes gently, sometimes grandly, at times even defiantly-- the deepest truths of our true humanity and the divinity that lies within our souls.  



In her Christmas story, The Glorious Impossible, Madeline L’Engle has written:


 “The wise men were wise men indeed, men of great intellectual sophistication; but each one saw the birth of an unknown child as an event of unprecedented proportions, and each one left his home to make the long trip to Judea because of what he had read in the movement of the planets and the stars. They understood that the birth of a single child could affect the entire universe, just as physicists today understand that all creation is a single organism. Nothing happens in isolation. The crying of a baby sends sound waves to galaxies thousand of light years away.”


Indeed, the crying of that babe in Bethlehem is still sending its holy music, even now, to our age and time, and to our world.


It is a song of the ages, and it has taken ages for us to realize its full import. It has passed through the enmity and strife of countless wars; through plague and pestilence and numberless disasters; it has wafted over tragedy and has transcended hatred and prejudice and unspeakable inhumanity. But could it be, that that infant’s holy song is finally about to come to rest in our ears, and in our hearts, and in our deeper consciousness—that it might finally awaken us from our slumber, and get these pent-up hearts of ours beating with the power of Love once again?


At Christmas, we are called upon to believe that such glorious things are possible.


With every child that is born, our hope is born anew.


With every Christmas Eve, we remember the true and deepest meaning of why we are here.  


Perhaps something is happening, at last, in the Bethlehem of our hearts that will finally change us, and change our world. Perhaps the sound waves (the age waves) of that first gloriously impossible Christmas are stirring our souls at last, and the glorious music of a heavenly host sings forth, at last, the wonder of our own new birth—our own nativity—upon this Earth.


“I swear to you,” Walt Whitman wrote in his “Song of the Open Road”-- “I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.”


The real song of Christmas is all about those “divine things”—those gifts of the Spirit, waiting for us, buried beneath the hard and crusted-over snow of human experience.


Christmas shows us that when night is darkest, we see the shining of the stars most gloriously. When we are most empty, the abundance of God can fill our souls. When we are poorest in spirit, a divine inheritance will be ours.


And when, at last, we are still—and silent—and all the noise of life has been hushed, and if we really listen, we may yet hear that angel chorus; and hear the Blessed Mother’s lullaby of peace; and hear that Holy Infant’s cry-- persistently, patiently, lovingly—calling us, at last, to follow him down the blessed pathway of love.


May your Christmas be touched with the truest gifts of the Spirit. And may you always sing boldly your own blessed song of Life.  



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