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Thursday, Apr. 17, 2014

The Power of Love

Posted Friday, December 14, 2012, at 5:03 PM

Looking out the windows of their second story home, she could see the fresh snow blanketing the town below. They lived on the mountain side overlooking the valley and could see the river as it wound its way through the mountains. On a night like this with the moon high overhead everything was as clear as if it were daylight. The town lights twinkled and the houses were strung with lights of every color. All that was needed was a horse drawn sleigh traversing the streets and the antique coal train slowly puffing in to the depot for the town to be snow globe perfect.

Her precious toddler crawled up onto the couch beside her, enjoying the sights. As they watched, they saw in the distance a horse walking slowly, carefully from the far side of town, pulling a sleigh. As it came closer they could hear the bells jingling with each step. "Let's hurry and get our coats on. Maybe we can see the horse and sleigh as they come on this side of town," she whispered to the delighted child.

They bundled into snow suits, coats, hats, mittens, and snow boots, making their way down the stairs and out through the snow to the street. As they walked through the shoveled path to the street the sounds of the bells came closer, louder, and they could hear the horse blow as the sleigh crunched through the snow behind. As they reached the street, the horse and sleigh turned the corner, slowed, and stopped right in front of the overjoyed child.

"Chief, Chief" the boy cried as he embraced the horse, reaching up to stroke his spun gold side. "Daddy, Chief, up?" he asked as his father secured the reins and stepped out of the sleigh. Picking up his son, he lifted him to hug the neck of the magnificent palomino stallion. The boy quickly wrapped his arms around the horse as tight as he could, and rubbed his check against him--giving kisses. Chief turned to look at the boy as he rubbed his head along the boy's. The friends loved one another deeply.

"Are you ready for a ride?" asked the father as he lifted the boy into the sleigh beside his mother and then climbed in himself. They wrapped warm blankets over their legs and with a flick of the reins Chief pranced his way down the street, the bells keeping time with his every step. They rode past decorated homes and spoke to neighbors along the way as they moved to the edge of town.

Riding along through the night, they soon left the town behind. A deep sense of peace filled them all as they enjoyed the quiet of the night, pointing out small animals along the way. As they traversed the winding road to the mine, they could sense a change in the air--a subtle shift that could easily be overlooked. However they were soon at their destination, the Christ of the Mine Shrine. They drew to a stop near the shrine and enjoyed the view, pointing out their own home, the church, the river, and other landmarks in town.

They heard the sounds of cars, voices, doors opening and closing in the crystal clear air. On the highway they could see the plows as they cleared the roads of the latest snow. They could even hear the sounds of rehearsal from the theater where the Christmas Concert would be held. Listening closely they enjoyed the music, flourishes from the piano, and the peaceful sounds of "Silent night Holy night; All is calm all is bright; 'Round yon virgin Mother and Child; Holy infant so tender and mild; Sleep in heavenly peace; Sleep in heavenly peace"

As the second verse began "Silent night, holy night; Shepherds quake at the sight;" Chief tossed his great head as they heard the deep voice of the mountain rumble. Lifting their eyes to the peak of the mountain on the opposite side of the valley, snow broke loose and began to cascade down the shoots as an avalanche built, grew, snow boiling, roiling down the mountainside and into the river below as the words could still be heard "Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia; Christ the Savior is born; Christ the Savior is born. Silent night, holy night; Son of God, love's pure light; Radiant beams from Thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth; Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth."

In the stillness as the avalanche ceased--the snow falling into the river, the strains of music faded, and the family sat awe struck at the sight and sound before them; peace enveloped them. The harmony of nature, of the night, of the gentle beast pulling their sleigh; of safety; of understanding surrounded them. They rode back down the winding road to the stable and then walked home after settling the horse and putting away the sleigh.

Removing their coats, scarves, mittens, and boots, they went to the couch and looked again at the great mountain peak from which the avalanche began. It was quiet again--a sleeping giant. How could such a change have happened so quickly? One moment blanketed in fresh snow, the next erupting into motion as the snow plunged down its side, and then back to sleep once more. Something so huge, so magnificent, so altering happened in moments--only seen by a few changed their lives forever. There was peace and harmony within the wave of snow plunging into the river below and the town built upon the other side. The sounds of the avalanche harmonized with the voices singing "Silent Night." It was as if the earth burst into song with the musicians.

Perhaps this is what it was like for the shepherd tending their flocks on the evening of the birth of Christ. One moment a peaceful night--the gentle bleating of sheep--then the harmony of the very earth shattering their expectations as a chorus of angels sang of the glory and wonder of the birth of God in human flesh. May we find peace and harmony this advent as we prepare with hope and joy for the coming of our Lord.

God, as we seek peace in the cacophony of our world, open our ears, eyes, minds, and hearts to the simplicity and harmony that is all around us. Through the power and might of your creation, open us to awe all over again. Help us, God, to discover the simplicity, harmony, and power of love. So be it. Amen.



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From My Heart to Yours
Rayla Stewart Hogue
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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