• advent journal: joy comes . . .

    by  • December 19, 2012 • advent journal, grief, music, pilgrim ucc • 3 Comments

    Throughout Advent, I have been collecting a soundtrack to get me deeper into the season. Tonight, I was greeted by two songs at our annual “Blue Christmas” service — one I sang and one I heard — that helped move me along towards the manger, sadness and all. Tonight, I thought I would share them with you as we approach the longest night of the year. First, is a song written by Melissa Manchester and Beth Nielsen Chapman had sung by the Indigo Girls: “There’s Still My Joy.”

    I brought my tree down to the shore
    the garland and the silver star
    to find my peace, and grieve no more
    to heal this place inside my heart

    on every branch I laid some bread
    and hungry birds filled up the sky
    they rang like bells around my head
    they sang my spirit back to life

    one tiny child can change the world
    one shining light can show the way
    through all my tears for what I’ve lost
    there’s still my joy
    there’s still my joy for Christmas day

    the snow comes down on empty sand
    there’s tinsel moonlight on the waves
    my soul was lost, but here I am
    so this must be amazing grace

    one tiny child can change the world
    one shining light can show the way
    through all my tears for what I’ve lost
    there’s still my joy
    there’s still my joy for Christmas day

    The second is a song I learned from my brother many years ago and was written and recorded by Andrew Peterson: “After the Last Tear Falls.”

    after the last tear falls
    after the last secret’s told
    after the last bullet tears through flesh and bone
    after the last child starves
    and the last girl walks the boulevard
    after the last year that’s just too hard
    there is love, love, love
    there is love, love, love
    there is love

    after the last disgrace
    after the last lie to save some face
    after the last brutal jab from a poison tongue
    after the last dirty politician
    after the last meal down at the mission
    after the last lonely night in prison
    there is love, love, love
    there is love, love, love
    there is love

    and in the end, the end is oceans and oceans of love and love again
    we’ll see how the tears that have fallen
    were caught in the palms of the giver of love and the lover of all
    and we’ll look back on these tears as old tales

    ’cause after the last plan fails
    after the last siren wails
    after the last young soldier sails off to join the war
    after the last “this marriage is over”
    after the last young child’s innocence is stolen
    after the last years of silence that won’t let a heart open
    there is love, love, love
    there is love, love, love
    there is love

    and in the end, the end is oceans and oceans of love and love again
    we’ll see how the tears that have fallen
    were caught in the palms of the giver of love and the lover of all
    and we’ll look back on these tears as old tales

    ’cause after the last tear falls
    there is love, love, love
    there is love, love, love
    there is love

    The first prayer in the service was a responsive reading and closed with these lines:

    All: We ask, “Will joy come in the morning?”
    One: You answer, “Yes, joy will come in the morning.”

    I was struck by the power of a good homonyms. As the service progressed and the two songs were sung, I felt what I had first heard in the prayer: yes, joy will come in the mourning. Amen.

    Peace,
    Milton

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    3 Responses to advent journal: joy comes . . .

    1. December 20, 2012 at 1:41 am

      Oh, Milton. You have just undone me. We did a very small Blue Christmas this year, and I moved gently out of retirement to help lead it. These words, these songs – yes, so perfect. Thank you. Between you and John Blase, I just may not have any tears left this Christmas. You are a gift to me this Advent and I thank you.

    2. December 20, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      Thanks, Diana.

    3. January 7, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      A church in my community has hosted a blue Christmas service the last few years. Such an important opportunity, I think, for those who mourn. I went year before last: cried my tears in the dark and lit my little candle. I didn’t go Christmas past, though, b/c I’d grieved like crazy all year long and just wanted to celebrate…

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