17 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: Memory Challenge and O Little Town of Bethlehem

Have you noticed how the things you have in your memory come to mind when you need them?  And sometimes when you least expect them?  And maybe even when you don't want them to come back at all?
There was a time in my life when I realized how important memory can be.  It was a combination of things, really.
One thing was the story of a church being invaded by police on a racist mission.  A woman started to sing, and others joined her, "taking the space".
I hardly remember the outcome, but one idea played over and  over in my mind:  That woman must have memorized songs of praise.  Otherwise, how could she have had the immediate response of song in possibly one of the most stressful events of her life?
Another thing that got me thinking was a tragedy that happened near my home, to a friend of a friend.  He had been doing a routine fitness test, and collapsed with a heart problem.
He was rushed to the hospital, and a pastor colleague visited him, singing hymns by the bedside just hours before his death.
I immediately wondered what I would sing to a dying man and his wife in the hospital room.  Did I have words in my mind that would sooth, point to the Savior, remind of heavenly hope?
Or was my mind filled with the useless chatter on the radio? 
I began memorizing hymns.  And large chunks of Scripture.  I never knew when I might need to encourage someone, and that someone has so often been myself.
So here's the Christmas memory challenge.  Chose a favorite Christmas carol that reminds you of something Jesus is promising you right now.  Memorize it, and tell me how it goes.  Share the challenge with a friend, and encourage each other in the memory work.
You may think you don't have time to memorize.  But guess what?  You can keep the hymnal in the bathroom and sing your song--or one verse over and over--while you blow dry your hair every morning (for example).  No one will hear you singing, and it will be great encouragement for your day.  I've done this.  :)
I'm choosing O Little Town of Bethlehem.
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary;
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the Angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together
Proclaim the Holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to man on earth.
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in--
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell--
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!
Text by Phillips Brooks; ST. LOUIS tune by L. H. Render; SDA Hymnal 135.

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