Saturday, December 22, 2012


"Hey Doug, welcome back. Where’ve you been?"

"North, playing Santa for hurricane Sandy…or whatever they’re calling her these days." ( I was adjusting insurance claims.)

"Oh, wow. First it was Super Storm Sandy and then Sandy Hook, and now the end of the world. Everything’s nuts..."

Joe rambled on about the woes of the world. Each word a dead weight pressed hard against my shoulders. The suns warmth shown in beads along his forehead. I was trying to listen, but his words blurred, as a gentle breeze carried the sound of music... Christmas music.

I no longer stood in my driveway talking to the neighbor. Instead, I walked the grounds of The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte North Carolina.

O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie

Where’s that coming from? I wondered as I wandered down the brick sidewalk through the trees.

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by

The music surrounded as if the air was made of it, so I inhaled peace, long and slow and deep.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight

The fatigue of working seven days a week melted. Maybe the trees were singing as they waved their praise in the cool morning air.

For Christ is born of Mary

And gathered all above

While mortals sleep, the angels keep

Their watch of wondering love

My six week deployment ended with a day off, which was spent preparing to leave. I returned the rental car; moved to a hotel near the airport with shuttle service and visited this picturesque place in honor of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. For over half a century and counting God has proclaimed through this ministry the simple message of Christmas throughout the entire world.

O morning stars together

Proclaim the holy birth

And praises sing to God the King

And Peace to men on earth

Wrapped in a blanket of sunshine and music I sat on a path side bench. Birds swirled ribbons around the trees, while a squirrel waltzed around the trunk. It was the stuff nursery rhymes were made of.

How silently, how silently

The wondrous gift is given!

So God imparts to human hearts

The blessings of His heaven.

What a perfect day, all is well here and now…but not for all.

No ear may hear His coming,

But in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive him still,

The dear Christ enters in.

At the same time sounds of peace echoed through the trees, in another place, screams and pleas for release echoed, and bullets ricocheted through the halls of a sleepy little place called Sandy Hook. Separation of Church and State wasn’t thought of.

O holy Child of Bethlehem

Descend to us, we pray

Cast out our sin and enter in

Be born to us today

Prayers shot to the ears of He who hears. "Dear Lord help us, deliver us, save us…" Evil entered an angry young man and manifest itself in the slaughter of innocents. It’s what evil does. But if we'd listen we could hear, amidst the cries, angel’s wings carrying the dear children Home.

We hear the Christmas angels

The great glad tidings tell

O come to us, abide with us

Our Lord Emmanuel


(To be continued...)

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