The Treasures of Christmas
Part 2B

January 4, 2009

 

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

 

 

We have explored a few carol treasures that have come down to us over the years.  Now it's time to celebrate a brand new one.  In February of 2008, I received an email from Brian and Elaine Mallett.  What they said led to the creation of the new carol you are about to hear for the first time this morning. Let me share their email with you.

 

Hola Pastor Tony,

 

I have a story to tell you.  At the Christmas Eve service, you were telling us about the carol “Silent Night.”  It came from Austria, and if I am remembering correctly, was written over 100 years ago for a church service without an organ.

 

Something came into my head that night that I could not stop thinking about.   What if there were no more carols written?  What if people didn't create music 100 years ago, what would we be singing today?  Will the people 100 years from now be depending on the things we write?

 

At this very service, some words to a song started echoing in me.  I started writing them down on the bulletin (this is very difficult when you are holding a candle in the dark!).  Over the next days I wrote more words and Elaine helped me form them into five verses.  The attached is our humble attempt at hymn writing.

 

Now it needs a tune ... but in Puerto Rico we have no piano or musical instruments to help us (just like the church in Austria).  We are sending this to you on the chance that you may be inspired to put a few notes to these lyrics. We have enjoyed crafting them, and perhaps they will live to enrich someone 100 years from now.

 

Grace and peace,

Brian and Elaine

           

I was struck by the beauty and elegant crafting of the poem they had written, and it wasn't long before a melody began to emerge from their words in my mind.  It was rather like the partnership between the writers of “Silent Night,” only this time the minister wrote the music, not the words!  We hope you are blessed by this new Christmas carol.

 

Tonight a Star Is Shining

 

by Brian and Elaine Mallett

 

Tonight a star is shining, a beacon boldly bright,

It traces through the darkness a path of holy light.

Where does this radiance lead us?

What purpose to its glow?

In drawing ever closer, we trust in God to know.

 

O hear the angel voices resounding in our heart,

They’re reaching from the distance a message to impart.

“Fear not; the Lord is with you,

His blessing you have found.”

Sing “Glory in the highest; may peace on earth abound.”

 

Now forward on the journey and follow to the place

Where God reveals to shepherds his gift of love and grace.

What miracle before us?

What offering divine?

O can it be for sinners that heaven’s glory shines?

 

Come kneel beside the manger, with soaring spirits sing,

All praises and thanksgiving unto the King of kings.

Behold a servant Savior,

The Son of God and man.

Lord Jesus Christ, Emanuel, is called the great I AM!

 

Tonight a star is shining; it’s stirring in our soul

New life to face the future and reach the final goal.

Rejoice, God travels with us,

In everyone He breathes,

And Jesus is our lighthouse for all eternity.

 

May you be blessed this Christmas and every Christmas with the mystical joy that God conveys to our hearts with the singing of carols, old and new. God loves you, friend, and I do too.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! Amen.

 

[Ed. Note: Please read on for a special blessing from Brian and Elaine and more about how their song came to be.]

 

January 5, 2009
Gurabo, Puerto Rico

Dear Pastor Tony, the Choir and Montgomery United Methodist Church,
 

WOW!  A great big thank-you for bringing a new song to life last Sunday. We were very humbled to be mentioned along with some of the great hymn writers ... Watts, Mohr, Gruber, Godlefski ... and honored to know that "Tonight a Star is Shining" now inspires fellow travelers on the way.  Music makes a path deep into the soul, and you have brightened our steps with this testimony to the ever present God in each of us. Thanks again for one of the highest moments in our lives.
 

Here are some of our notes on the inspiration for the poem ...

 

·        Most words came during the Christmas Eve service in December 2007, written on the bulletin while holding a candle. Service that night discussed the writing of Silent Night, 100 years ago, and we were struck with the thought of what people will be singing 100 years in the future.

·        Formed into verses over the next month ... it was not something we really planned or did consciously, it just came to us and compelled us.

·        The poem is written from the perspective of a traveler ... we have done a lot of traveling, more than we expected, Brian lost his job twice in the last ten years and this has taken us to places we could not have planned ... but the light of Christ is always in front of us, and we “trust in God to know” where it is leading.

·        There are definitely images of the Christmas story ... star, angels, shepherds, kings ... but the words are intentionally crafted so that you can place yourself in current time as well.

·        “Fear not” and “blessing you have found” were the central themes of your sermon.

·        You will notice there are many questions in the poem ... these are the questions of a searching soul, certain but wondering, moving closer but never fully arriving, always in awe and reverence.

·        The idea that “heaven's candle” shines for us is overwhelming, Jesus Christ is traveling with us.

·        In the last verse, there is recognition that the shining star is within us, that God breathes in everyone, that Jesus Christ is our “lighthouse”(Elaine had just finished painting a picture of a lighthouse which now hangs in our house).

·        We have certainly grown from this experience and learned a little more about hymn writing and listening to that “stirring in our soul.”

Grace and peace, Dios te bendiga,
Brian and Elaine Mallett
 

Sermon © 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski

“Tonight a Star Is Shining” © 2008 Words by Brian and Elaine Mallett,

Music by Anthony J. Godlefski