Kendall Harmon—What Kind of Love Came Down at Christmas?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christina Rossetti’s words pierce my heart at Christmas, year after year:
“Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas, Star and angels gave the sign.”
It is worth pausing and pondering the answer to the question: how deep and how broad was that love?
To move with me toward an answer, journey to a small chapel in Cartmell Fell, a little known holy place in the North of England. If you know where to look when you arrive there – the stone is half hidden in the chancel — you can find a 1771 inscription with elegant lettering:

“Underneath this stone a mouldering Virgin lies,
Who was the pleasure once of Human Eyes.
Her Blaze of Charms Virtue once approved
The Gay admired her, much the parents loved.
Transitory life! Death untimely came.
Adieu, farewell, lonely leave my name.”
The words describe Betty Poole; she was a little girl who died at age three.

Christina Rossetti also wrote:
“In the bleak mid-winter Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone…”
It is only when the bleakness of this world and its iron hardness is fully felt, that the miracle of melting which began at Christmas can penetrate and shock us into appropriate awe. God’s love enveloped the whole moaning, stony, sin-sick world. It is broad enough to embrace it all, in this world and the next.

I imagine being with Betty Poole in Heaven and hearing her say with a smile, “God’s love was bigger than I thought!”

--The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon

Filed under: * By Kendall* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Theology

Posted December 28, 2012 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Teatime2 wrote:

And why I have become so weary of what seems to be the tamping down of Christmas into a cartoonish, almost comical Nativity scene with plastic Baby Jesuses and a million little kids pushed into sheep costumes, likely without them understanding why.

That’s a safe little scene, isn’t it? Even the atheists turn out to see it because it’s cute and fun and doesn’t inform or challenge anyone’s faith. If, for most people, the only religious aspect of Christmas is watching kids do a Nativity pageant, then it’s no wonder that secularism and atheism is spreading with relative ease. It contains Christmas into something slightly heart-warming and a bit odd but just a brief tradition.

I don’t think it would be possible to ditch the Nativity plays. Sheesh, the media accused the pope of ruining Christmas when he simply suggested there probably weren’t any animals present at Jesus’ birth. But we do have to force the Nativity plays and all involved with them to grow up.

This may sound harsh but I don’t think there’s any point in recounting the story of Jesus’ birth from the Gospels in this manner year after year if it’s only remaining “cute” and not changing hearts and the world.

December 28, 4:19 pm | [comment link]
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