Saturday, December 8, 2012

Advent 2012



Moving from Bethlehem to Bedlam


             In a much earlier period in English history the British created a mental hospital for the insane called the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem.  Some reports indicate that because of the chaos and noise of the place its name eventually was informally shortened to Bedlam.  During the season of Advent the irony of a sanctuary becoming a place of bedlam does not escape us.  Nor is the sadness lost on those of us who still relish the "little town of Bethlehem."  Something in us yearns for a place where we can say, "how still we see thee lie."

For many of us this season becomes the busiest season of the year.  Calendars are filled, chores are never-ending, and the many searches for the perfect gifts rapidly become frantic.  Earlier in childhood I was entertained by the tales of my parents indicating that the most exciting part of Christmas morning was finding a fresh orange in the toe of their Christmas stockings.  It is not hard to romanticize a Dickens-like Christmas Day when families eagerly anticipated simply being with each other.

Wouldn't it be extraordinary for us in this season to once again experience the gift of peace.  If only the carol became our reality:


Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light;

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.


- Charlie Benton


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