And our eyes
At last shall see Him
Through His own redeeming love
For that child, so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above
And He leads His children along
To the place where He is gone.
“Once In Royal David’s City,” st. 3
The above comes from my favorite Christmas Hymn, Once In Royal David’s City. I heard this first I think when I was a pre-teen in the 80’s, most likely on a PBS Christmas Special. I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, so this beautiful piece of Anglican music was rarely, if ever, used in any service I attended and I had forgotten about it. I rediscovered it in the early 2000’s when I attended the funeral of a close friend’s aunt. It had been her most favorite hymn and she wanted it played at her funeral. The lyrics were printed in the service bulletin, and I remember welling up with tears as the last stanza was played and sung as the family followed behind the casket to the hearse. How fitting that the departed was already in Heaven as the organ thundered and we sang: ”And He leads His children along to the place where He is gone.”
Since becoming an Anglican, I have been very intentional in watching Carols From King’s every year. I usually watch it several times in the season, my favorite viewing being when I watch it with fellow Chapel of The Cross parishioner Dr. Morris Regan and Father Will Compton. Dr. Regan likes to watch the recording start to finish in silence as if we were there in addition to opening a bottle of fine cognac to share. One of my favorite recordings comes from the 2014 year, which was the 60th anniversary of Carols From King’s. Please do yourself a favor and at least watch the processional where they sing this hymn.
My favorite words are “And our eyes At last shall see Him Through His own redeeming love..” Think on that. Christ reveals Himself to us, not us having to stumble around looking for Him. We don’t have to check all the boxes, live perfect lives, or jump through hoops before He will be known to us. It is on His time, not ours. He knows each of us. He knows the struggles in our lives, the long-bearing sufferings and the “new” sufferings brought about by the pandemic. Advent is a time of waiting and of patience. It’s why we observe it as a season and not just on Christmas Day. Just this morning, as if by Divine assistance, my dearest friend texted me randomly: “Everything is going to be ok. Always.” He knows I have been wrestling with frustrations and struggling with staying positive when things go wrong. I also know him to be one of the strongest believers I have ever met, so I know that when he says “everything is going to be ok” he is saying it because he knows Who makes it so. Christ, the one we wait for, has got this. All of it. When we switch on the news and see the divisions in this country, the violence, the poverty, the hunger, the disparity in certain areas, and the panic, Christ is there for us. When we worry what to believe or don’t know how to wade through the constant information stream, Christ is there for us. And when we feel as if we are struggling alone, no matter what we are facing, Christ is there for us.
This Advent, pray to be led through the darkness and into the light. Pray for peace and clarity. Pray that the redeeming love will be revealed in even the smallest of everyday moments so that you can focus more on what is good and less on what is not. My friends, there is truly more to be thankful for than worried about. Find a quiet spot, breathe deeply, and give it all over to Christ. You will be amazed at the places you will be led.
Christ’s peace. Happy Advent and Merry Christmas.