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When The Angels Stop Singing!
Can you believe that there is more loneliness and depression at Christmas than at any other time of year?
Amid all the celebration and the colored lights, there is the awareness of an empty chair in some families.
There is the memory of a deceased loved one, -- who will not be present this Christmas.
Even during Christmas, so filled with celebrations, there will be loneliness and depression.
This time of year there will be a thousand names and faces, which will experience a mountain of misery.
- Somewhere, a solitary soul will take another drink, trying to drown the memory of a love -- lost long ago.
- Somewhere, a homeless mother is hovering beneath a cardboard for a home trying to keep her child's hopes alive.
That is what happens in life, when the angels stop singing.
Most of us are blessed and fortunate.
How much thought do we give to others who will not experience this joyful time of Christmas?
- Christmas for us is a time of life and laughter.
- Smiles are abundant.
- People decorate their homes with bright lights.
- Colored lights twinkle in the cold, night air with the warmth of a starlike sparkle.
- Children's eyes are wide and wild with expectations.
It is painful to think about those whose lives are broken, even during this most blessed season.
- What about that home where hunger has robbed the family of happiness?
- What about that house in which loneliness knows not how to laugh?
- What about the nursing home where aged eyes watch for someone who will never come?
- What about that patient in the hospital, whose tears glistened in the darkness, like tinsel on a dying tree?
Maybe, we want to believe that the rest of the world feels as we do during this Christmas season.
Perhaps, it would spoil our evening, if we were to remember all those unfortunate souls who are straining to hear
the song of angels above the cries of their homeless and hungry children.
Can we be blamed, if we want to forget?
After all, we are only asking for one night and one day to forget.
Maybe, that's possible, when the angels stop singing.
We have a right to some joy, don't we?
Why should this season of the year be squandered on dark and dreary thoughts?
Shouldn't this season be filled with beauty and fun and family?
After all, we have had our shattered dreams and battered lives.
So, how can our request for a little time to ourselves and our joy be considered so selfish?
Three hundred sixty-four days of the year, our eyes are assaulted with misery and our ears by cries for help.
Now we just want to enjoy this holy and festive season.
We want to enjoy the warm glow of that gentle story of Mary and Joseph.
We do not want to think or talk of the lost and the lonely.
Please do not remind us of the destitute and deserted, once the angels stop singing.
A pastor tells of a woman, who spent most of her life alone.
Despite this, she had contributed to the church faithfully and regularly.
- She was like a hermit, but not by choice or design.
- She had fallen through the cracks of compassion.
- She had no family and no friends.
The pastor was told of this lady, and that she probably would welcome a visit.
The pastor had never met the woman.
He had been warned that "She's a bitter old bat."
He had also been told that "She's mean-spirited and spiteful."
As he entered her winding driveway, his mind was filled with foolish thoughts of bat wings and broomsticks.
He found nothing like that.
Her husband had beaten her without mercy, until the night he drunkenly drove into a telephone pole.
- She was not a Scrooge -- humbugging Christmas cheer.
- She was lonely and alone with her thoughts.
- She was a woman tormented by a troubled life.
- She was scared by sadness and broken by the bad faith of others that she had once trusted.
She had one son in prison and had a daughter who was walking the streets of New York City.
In ten years, no one from the church had expressed one bit of interest in her welfare.
As the conversation turned from pain to pleasure, the pastor spoke of Christmas and the promise of joy.
With one deep sigh she said, "Pastor, Christmas is for brightly wrapped presents and for parents
with pleasant children -- not for the poor and lonely."
The pastor responded, "But the angels first sang to lowly shepherds."
She smiled as she answered, "Sure. But, when the angels stopped singing -- the poor were still poor
and the lonely were still alone.
Nothing had changed!
The pastor was stunned into silence.
As he walked to his car, he was haunted by her words.
Her words pervaded his thinking all afternoon.
Was it the bitterness talking?
Were her wounds so deep, that even the warmth of Christmas could not melt her icy emotions?
Or, was she speaking on behalf of life's losers?
Her words should trouble us!
Sooner or later, the decorations will find their way back into storage for another year.
The once, brightly decorated tree will be stripped of its ornaments, and will be discarded.
All the presents will have been opened, and the leftovers from the Christmas meal will have all been eaten.
Then, we will return too the hectic and hassled life again.
Smiles will not be as plentiful.
Holiday cheer will have vanished.
And, too many of us will become a little more self-centered.
This is so sad, but true.
Maybe, that's all that we can hope for, when the angels stop singing!
Or is it?
Oh, I certainly hope not!
I prefer to believe that this Christmas will make a difference in you and me.
The mystery and wonder of Christ cannot be confined to one night.
It cannot be confined to one night even when it is filled with voices of angels.
The real wonder of Christ can be experienced only by those who worship and follow Christ
after the tinsel has tarnished and the presents are packed away.
But, this will take courage and commitment because, when we turn from the crib, we face the cross!
When the angels stop singing, we are summoned to serve!
Remember, what the lady said,
"Sure. But when the angels stopped singing, the poor were still poor and the lonely were still alone.
Nothing had changed.
I totally disagree!
Everything had changed, and it continues to change, wherever the Spirit of the Saviour born in a stable
has been received into a heart and life.
Christ is here, now!
So, when the wonder of this holy night has worn thin and the enchantment has ended -- Christ will be waiting!
- He is with His followers, as they serve Him.
- He is with those who are lonely.
- He is with those who are hungry.
- He is with those who are homeless.
- He is also with those who are heartless.
He is waiting for you and for me to commit ourselves to His ministry of mercy and compassion.
If you and I will listen closely, we can hear above the angels singing, Christ asking,
"Isn't there someone whose burden you can lift?
Isn't there someone whose loneliness you can lighten?
Isn't there someone whose sorrow you can share?
Isn't there someone who is lost that you can point to Christ?"
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@AOL.com