MJ Reflections

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christmas Story: Yours and Mine

It's been a tradition of mine for many years to purchase one new Christmas CD each year to add to my collection. This year I decided to purchase the Trans-Siberian Orchestra CD entitled "Christmas Eve and Other Stories". To tell you the truth, I had never listened to their music before, although I had heard of them. This particular CD was produced in 1996, so it's been around a while. My general preference for Christmas music leans toward instrumental versions of classic carols or those sung by choirs. I also have artists such as Josh Groban, Jim Brickman and Michael W. Smith in my Christmas music library. Music that inspires is what I like to listen to, especially this time of year. Anything that tells the Christmas story and instills a sense of wonder and gratitude for the joy of the season and the precious gift of the Christ child.

I took my new Christmas CD to work with me the day after I purchased it, popped it into my boombox and began listening. But because I was busy working, I wasn't totally tuned in to most of the music except when a squealing electric guitar caught my attention. It surprised me because it wasn't what I was expecting - you might say I was even a little disappointed. Not that I don't like electric guitar, but it didn't feel much like Christmas music to me when I heard those parts! Nonetheless, I continued to play the CD as I worked. Soon there came a song that made me stop what I was doing to listen closely. A man's voice, a bit gritty and raw, was singing a ballad accompanied by an acoustic guitar. At first, I only heard his voice which touched something deep inside of me with its expression. I felt tears welling up and I didn't even know yet what he was singing about! I replayed the song and listened more carefully to his words and what I heard was a message as told in a story...MY story...OUR story of how Michael Jackson walked into our hearts and got our attention!

As you listen to the song and read the lyrics, think about this...For many of us, before Michael died, we were closed off, couldn't see past the end of our noses. We didn't even realize that there was anything we were missing...until June 25, 2009. Michael came into our vision and brought it into focus...he danced and sang his way into our hearts and taught us about all the things he had been noticing all along. Things that caused him heartache and concern for the world.

He noticed when a child or a fan in the crowd needed a hug...and he gave it. He noticed when a family or an individual needed help...and he offered it. He noticed when the world directed its prejudice or hatred toward certain kinds of people...and he spoke out about it. He noticed when we were blindly destroying our earth and not caring about the long term consequences...and he sang about it with passion!

He noticed when a sick or dying child just needed a touch or a smile...and he gave it with tenderness and Love in his heart. He was the little boy who came through the door into our sheltered world to show us what was happening outside, to shake us free from our comfortable places and help us to see that we could make a difference!

So, I decided to share this song with you here in hopes that we could be inspired to "somehow make this Christmas thing last"...

I wish you Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and always Inspiration this Christmas and throughout the coming year. May we continue to arrange to change the world as the Christ Child and our man-child have inspired us to do!

Old City Bar
In an old city bar
That is never too far
From the places that gather
The dreams that have been

In the safety of night
With its old neon light
It beckons to strangers
And they always come in

And the snow it was falling
The neon was calling
The music was low
And the night Christmas Eve

And here was the danger
That even with strangers
Inside of this night
It’s easier to believe

Then the door opened wide
And a child came inside
That no one in the bar
Had seen there before

And he asked did we know
That outside in the snow
That someone was lost
Standing outside our door

Then the bartender gazed
Through the smoke and the haze
Through the windows and ice
To a corner street light

Where standing alone
By a broken pay phone
Was a girl the child said
Could no longer get home

And the snow it was falling
The neon was calling
The bartender turned
And said, not that I care
But how would you know this?
The child said I’ve noticed
If one could be home
They’d be already there

Then the bartender came out from behind the bar
And in all of his life he was never that far
And he did something else that he thought no one saw
When he took all the cash from the register draw

Then he followed the child to the girl across the street
And we watched from the bar as they started to speak
Then he called for a cab and he said J.F.K.
Put the girl in the cab and the cab drove away
And we saw in his hand
That the cash was all gone
From the light that she had
Wished upon

If you want to arrange it
This world you can change it
If we could somehow make this
Christmas thing last

By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger
And to know who needs help
You need only just ask

Then he looked for the child
But the child wasn’t there
Just the wind and the snow
Waltzing dreams through the air

So he walked back inside
Somehow different I think
For the rest of the night
No one paid for a drink

And the cynics will say
That some neighborhood kid
Wandered in on some bums
In the world where they hid

But they weren’t there
So they couldn’t see
By an old neon star
On that night, Christmas Eve

When the snow it was falling
The neon was calling
And in case you should wonder
In case you should care

Why we’re on our own
Never went home
On that night of all nights
We were already there

“Christmas Eve and Other Stories”
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 1996

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Remember The Gift

As we begin this season of waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I would like to offer a series of poems and reflections based on the weekly themes of Advent - the first theme being HOPE. The following poem was published in an Advent devotional booklet for my church this year which was written entirely by its members. I am pleased to share it with you here. I fully respect and honor the diversity of beliefs that make up our colorful world - a world that is filled with beautiful and unique individuals, all a part of God’s magnificent Creation. No matter what your beliefs, I think most will agree that there is a power which is greater than ourselves at work in the universe - a power grounded in a great love. My heart extends its warmest wishes to you during this season of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love!

Remember the Gift
Holy Spirit come, fill me with your love
wash over me, enlighten me, strengthen my belief in Thee
I need discipline to travel, this mystery of life to unravel
I vow to give my best, take time to nurture my faith
let it simmer while I wait
‘til Your guidance reveals which path to take

God of love and compassion
through my trials you have been my constant companion
but my patience is tested when it’s time for a rest
in my prayers I seek answers to my questions
You don’t always lead where I want to go
Your timing is not always mine
please give me the courage to believe what you know 

My Creator,
You gave me fire in my spirit
then said, don’t fear it!
be bold, be brave, share the love which I gave you
it is true, it is right
it’s your beauty, your passion, your own special light!

So, why must I wait, this flame to embrace?

Remember the Gift, the sweet Kiss of Love
Magical Child sent to earth from above
your soul to save from its own mistakes
His arms outstretched, ready to embrace
awaiting your surrender to God’s amazing grace!

The Gift accepted, my soul awakens
this waiting, this nurturing reveals the message
Peace, Love and Hope abide within each soul
the Gift cannot be denied
I must strive to be God’s Glow
a voice of Hope to a world in need of Love

Copyright © 2010 by Charlene Burgess