Holiness in our midst – Session 16

Holiness in our Midst


Which Christmas carol do you like best? Why?

I associate my favorite Christmas carol, In the Bleak Midwinter by Dan Cross, with a particular church, Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, IL. Each December, when the sanctuary was decorated with evergreen boughs and red bows, the choir would encircle the pews and sing the plaintive melody in four-part harmony. Then (2001 to 2009) and now, I carry the carol’s message with me, especially for days when I need the fresh face of hope, Baby Jesus, to enter into the fray of my everyday life.

Bleak midwinter moments are not confined to hours when heavy snow has fallen (“snow on snow, snow on snow,” as the song goes). During recent “bleak” hours, when earth seems to be “hard as iron,” I have hummed the melody: when storms (Typhoon Haiyan, for example) raged, when “food stamps” were cut, and when healthcare seems increasingly inaccessible. During these days when leadership at all levels disappoints and social justice projects don’t work out perfectly, or when efforts seem insufficient for the vast need, I remember that “a stable place sufficed,” was “enough for Him, whom cherubim worship night and day.”

The song ends with the lines that become a prayer whenever my best doesn’t seem good enough:

What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;

Yet what I can give Him: give my heart.

When I sing the lyrics to In the Bleak Midwinter, usually alone in my car, I am energized to carry on in the name of the One who loves me in spite of my sins of commission and omission, the One who loves me anyway. What Christmas carol touches you deeply?


STORY CIRCLE QUESTION: Share about a Christmas carol that is special to you.


  1. Read the above reflection aloud.
  2. Write a journal reflection about your favorite Christmas carol: Why is it special? What persons do you associate with it?


  1. Read aloud Session XVI.
  2. Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Question.