In the bleak mid-winter,
frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow,
snow on snow,
in the bleak mid-winter,
It’s not the weather that is making this winter so bleak; or the wind that is moaning. It’s our mood that is bleak and our words that are moaning. Understandably so in this bleak mind-winter.
It’s not that the earth has become as hard as iron or because water has turned to stone that this winter is so bleak. It’s our fear that takes an iron grip of our hearts and has frozen life for the year.
Yet, in our bleak mid-winter, the bleakest most of us can remember, nothing can stop our God from softening the feelings of earth and melt this year of ice into living waters again with a gift from heaven.
In this bleak mid-winter of changing mood and moaning words the cold of a stable place sufficed for God to send the warmth of Love to change the darkness into light. That’s what God does when Love is born for us to adopt and share the warmth that gives hope in the bleakest of winters.
There is encouragement to be found in our hymns and carols when we sing because it is, “Love that comes down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine; Love is born at Christmas, start and angels give the sign.” They are the words of another carol by Christina Rossetti who also reminds us that, “Love shall be our token, love be yours and love be mine, love to God and everyone, love for plea and gift and sign.” It is the Love born in the bleakest of places, after inevitable pain and with a future being shaped by an oppressive dictator which was then named Herod, but today is called Covid. The Government has decreed what people must do and we only have one day to check in with our families and there’s no room at the Inn to stay overnight. In the bleak mid-winter our mood is cold and our words are moaning.
I pray that we will not let circumstances dictate our mood, but that we will find ways of changing the circumstances around us by our mood. We always seem to have Nativity scenes with no more than three shepherds who want to change their lives and so find Love lying in a manger which they then spread round the world. Dare I say it, “Joy to the world, the Love (Lord) has come! Everyone who hears it is amazed and it changes the future, the mood of people and the circumstances. The shepherds were few, but we can make them many — and if we take our sheep with us everything around us will change! In the bleak mid-winter the warmth of Love was born.
As you cook your Christmas dinner the potatoes will become soft in boiling water ready for mashing or your breakfast egg will become hard. You can be changed like the potato or the egg by the circumstances around you, but think what happens when you have your cup of tea. You dip your tea bag in the water which changes in colour and taste. The tea bag changes the circumstances around it so sip a ‘Cuppa Love’ this Christmas and I pray in this bleak mid-winter you will melt away the mood of fear and anger with the warmth in your hearts.
What can I give Him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
yet what can I give Him —
give my heart.
We received the gift of a book, The Last Dream, from some visitors to Church during the week. They visit every year and said: “Thank you so much for the years we have visited your church and the lovely Christmas display you do each year. We didn’t expect to have the chance this year, but your outdoor display cheered our spirits yesterday. It’s lovely. Please accept a copy of this book Jason wrote. It is our way to say thank you to you all. I hope you enjoy it. God Bless you and may the dream of peace and happiness be with us all this Christmas.” The gift was from Jason Hemmings and his wife Emma and the book is available from Amazon.
Kathryn has offered to lead the Christmas Day service at 1030 but please let me know if you hope to attend as I will plan the seating. We did plan to have a service on Sunday with an opportunity to come together and share in the United Reformed Church recording for the day, but having tested the internet it seems too unstable to invite people to Church and not be able to connect.