December 10, 2014

Weaving a Tapestry of Darkness and Light by Sharon Espeseth

December for many of us can be a month of darkness as we work our way toward the Winter Solstice. In the physical realm, we won't see our part of the world lightening until early January. Oh, yes, on December 21, the day will inch toward a greater length, but for practical purposes we won't immediately notice that dawn comes much earlier for our morning walk.

In the spiritual and emotional realm, December can also be a dark month. Some of us have ghosts from past Christmases that weren't all that joyous; others succumb to Seasonal Adjusted Disorder (S.A.D.) or they are in the throws of mental or physical illness. Still others are grieving because of recent turmoil, losses in their lives, or change.

And if you, unlike me, don't fall into any of those categories, you may be overwhelmed with all that you expect yourself to do or buy before Christmas. During the pre-Christmas season, television and online ads tempt us to buy, buy, buy. Then the glossy magazines and cooking shows would have us believe our homes would not be fit for company at Christmas unless we met Martha Stewart's standards in decorating or Julia Child's in cooking. Maybe now is the time to shut off our TVs unless we are viewing a special Christmas program. We can try to reduce our exposure to eye candy by limiting our time in the mall.

Instead of dwelling on the "pre-Christmas season" and all that includes, let's switch our mental channels to the Advent Season and ramp up our excitement and enthusiasm about God's coming to earth as Emmanuel. Forgive me here, friends, if I get off in a musical tangent. We choir members from St. Anne's Catholic Church in Barrhead are again joining the Barrhead United Church Choir for the singing of a cantata.

Joint Choir 2012
For our third joint cantata, we'll be singing Tapestry of Light: A Celtic Christmas Cantata by Joseph M. Martin. As composer, Martin has combined familiar scriptures that tell or foretell the story of Christ's birth with traditional Celtic melodies like "Londonderry Air," "Scarborough Fair," and "Greensleeves." Loving music as I do, I tra-la-la these songs around the house or play the cantata on a CD to learn my part. Alto doesn't sound that great without the rest of the choir, but I can turn my music box up louder.

Not only the melody and harmony seep into my brain, but I get the words of the Promised One's first coming, of how he brings us peace and light, about the gift of Jesus, about the wondrous night that saw the light of grace. With words like Rejoice! and Glorias galore, how can I keep from singing and being joyous.

Read John 1: 1-18 and you will see the beautiful tapestry of God and Jesus existing from the beginning, and of how they wove light into darkness. In verse 4-5 we read: "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." That has to be a tremendous light in the world or in our hearts if the darkness cannot overcome it.

Jesus came into the world to bring light to those who walk it darkness. God sent his Son to earth to save us from our sins. This is the Good News we are called to live and share.

Christmas will come whether we are ready or not, so my suggestion to myself and anyone who is interested. Let's get our hearts ready during this Advent season. As for our homes, I think of the first verse of the old song, "People Look East."

1. People, look east. The time is near
of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able;
trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love the guest is on the way.


  1. Sharon, I have never heard the hymn People Look East before. So I listened to it on Youtube and printed out the lyrics. What lovely words they are! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Wish I could attend the cantata! Thanks for thsi reminder, too.

  3. I like the concept of switching from the pre-Christmas season, to the Advent season, slight change of words, but major focus shift!

  4. I'm sad, now, missing those years when I got to be part of a Christmas choir myself. It never ceases to move me that God created music, and created humans to be filled by it, thrilled by it. No other creature has that ability. And harmonies... Oh, how they fill the spirit to overflowing. You've brought back some lovely memories, Sharon, and a reminder of all the blessings the Lord has given us that aren't so much practical as fulfilling. Thank you!

  5. For me, it's the music of Christmas that matters most. I love lots of other traditions connected to Christmas, but when I can get together and sing the old familiar carols, and even ones that are new to me, that's when it feels like I've had Christmas.

    It's a lovely post you've shared, Sharon. Thank you!


  6. Thanks for your comments. Tomorrow night is the presentation of our cantata--the culmination of all this practice, which makes for a busy season. Part of the reward of this time commitment is that I've had the Christmas story and what it means reverberating in my brain. It becomes an earworm, but in a positive and spiritual way.


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