“’Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”
Many know this iconic Christmas Eve story, but few realize it was written by an Episcopalian!
Clement Clark Moore claimed authorship of these well-known verses in 1837, 14 years after their first anonymous publication in 1823. While is authorship is sometimes disputed, I like to think one of our own created this famous piece of Americana. Moore was the founding warden of St. Luke in the Fields, the church I am interning at this year in New York City, and was a professor of Oriental and Greek literature and Divinity and Biblical Learning at General Theological Seminary, which was developed on land he donated from his large estate in what is today the Chelsea neighborhood of New York.
While many would argue that this poem is entirely secular, I can see a Christian influence. Advent is a season of hope and waiting. While in the Christian tradition, we wait specifically for Christ’s return through the birth narrative, other traditions of waiting and hoping are also at play. Solstice, the return of the sun as days begin to lengthen again on December 23rd marks both the first day of winter, but the darkest day of the year, the last night before the light begins to linger again. And the waiting for Santa Claus, or “St. Nick,” as Moore refers to the “right jolly old elf” reminds me of both. There is hope, joy, and wonder when waiting for the return of Christ, light, or even Santa.
Thank you for joining us on this Advent journey of hope and reflection. Have a blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year!
Scripture: Proverbs 16:7 "When a man's ways please the
Lord, He makes even his enemies be at peace with him."
By Ann Perrott
I have always loved reading history, especially on different wars the US has been involved in. In most cases I am amazed, perplexed and even angered over why we went to war in the first place. World War I is an example of a war that made no sense at all. Everything I have read on it makes me realize how hungry some people are for war. Freedom from conflict can be a very insecure time for some men. I read once that Churchill was provoked during peace time when he was very young. He would be hopeful for an upheaval somewhere in the world.
On Christmas Eve, 1914 though, men on the British and German sides of the trenches were craving peace. It has been reported (unofficially), that on the evening of December 24, 1914, British soldiers heard German troops along the Western Front singing Christmas carols and saw some decorated fir trees in the light of their trenches. Then, one man on each side began shouting messages back and forth. Soon, when they trusted that the other side would not shoot, they gathered together, sang carols, drank together and played soccer. Of course this would not last. By Christmas day each side was back in their trenches and fighting resumed.
Those moments of peace were sacred moments. Any time human beings can stop violence and hate—no matter how short lived, it is sacred. This is the humanity that God created, one where mankind can realize that we are all the same, we grow up the same, we have families the same and we want to be loved the same. These young men did not ask for the war they were made to fight in, and I cannot imagine what it was like to pick up a rifle again after that peaceful evening and get back into the mind set of killing again. Yet, one holy night in 1914, young men came together for the common good and there was peace in that place even for a little while.
Give us, O God, the vision which can see Your love in the world
in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of