Monday, December 25, 2023

Christmas 2023: Reflections on a world gone mad

Go, tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born 

- Attributed to John Wesley Work, Jr. (1871-1925),  American musicologist, singer and songwriter

No one is completely certain of who actually wrote the words to the Christmas hymn "Go Tell It On the Mountain."  The verses that we sing today may have been written by John W. Work, Jr. to replace the original ones that got lost.  

Work, Jr., his wife Agnes, and his brother Frederick, collected slave songs and spirituals.  Work published them as New Jubilee Songs by the Fisk Jubilee Singers (1901) and New Jubilee Songs and Folk Songs of the American Negro (1907), which contained the first publication of "Go Tell It On the Mountain." which he may have played a part in composing.  Some, however, attribute the test to his bother, Frederick J. Work.

Joan Wesley Work, Jr.

With war in Ukraine and in the Middle East, "Peace on  Earth" may seem far away this Christmas. As we approach the end of 2023, the world seems to be plunging into madness.  Peace may seem a distant prospect, but it doesn't have to be, not if we find peace in our hearts.  This will not be easy.  Given all the discord around us, the quest for inner peace will be challenging.  However, it will be well worth the effort, especially when considering the alternative.

We live in a time of great polarization and enormous human suffering.  Finding inner peace will require a great deal of self-reflection and self-discipline.  It begins with you and me, and it's a matter of finding strength, courage and hope in a world gone mad.  

I try to remember that life is not all black and white.  There are shades of grey.  Therefore, I try not to regard those who think differently than I as "the enemy". No one has all the answers.  It's beneficial to look at matters from other points of view, even if you can never agree.  It is said that there are two sides to every story.  Sometimes there can be more sides and angle than you expect.  People of faith share much in common.  I believe in ecumenicalism.  It makes no sense for Jews and Muslims and Christians to hate each other, or for anyone who lives by the Golden Rule.

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will not find it under a tree."

- Roy L. Smith (1887-1963), American clergyman

May you find peace in your heart this Christmas.  I'm working on it myself, so I understand the struggle.


There is some good news this Christmas about Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral.  The renovation of the fire-damaged cathedral has entered its final stage. After the devastating fire on April 15, 2019, the spire has been reconstructed in similar fashion, despite some debate about whether to modernize it.

A large crane lifted a new copper rooster back to the top of its spire on Satiurday,December .  This new weather vane rooster was blessed by the Parish archbishop Laurent Ulrich.  The rooster symbolizes the cathedral's resurgence.  It is a French emblem of vigilance and Christ's resurrection, similar to a phoenix.  

Raising the copper rooster

The old rooster had crashed through the roof along with the wooden spire.  I was found slightly damaged but nearly intact in the debris l fire.  It will be displayed a new Notre Dame museum.  Last week, after viewing the rebuilt spire, French President Emmanuel Macron promised that the reconstruction of the cathedral would be completed as scheduled and that it would reopen within a year.  

Notre-Dome is de Paris is set to reopen for religious services and to the public on December 8, 2024, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  President Macron would like Pope Francis to attend.  By next Christmas, the grand cathedral should be standing in all its glory.

- Joanne