advent journal: joy comes . . .

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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 COMMENTS

  1. 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.

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  2. 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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