The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight

As this post is written, there are only 5 days left until Christmas. That is four shopping days. four/five food prep days.. Six stressful days of work, COVID-19 fears, and also wrapping. Santa can’t do it all, after all..

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. The night of Christmas that is…

That is one sentence from the famous Christmas song O little town of Bethlehem. The song was written in 1868 by Phillips Brooks, a rector of Philadelphia, after a trip to the Holy Land and seeing the nighttime Bethlehem from the hills of Palestine. When he returned he had his church organist, Lewis Redner, write the melody for the Sunday school choir.

It’s been a beloved Christmas classic every since.

O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting light

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight.

Hopes and fears are met this Christmas season.. Most states and nations are seeing COVID-19 restrictions, some are decrying government overreach and calling officials grinches who stole Christmas. Others are praising the lockdowns and hoping that Christmas 2021 could be close to “normal” again. The debate is fierce.. there is so much misery throughout the entire planet as the scourge of the pandemic shakes nations and causes hospital surges just before the season’s greeting..

But at the same time vaccines are now becoming available. Hope. But major news networks have reported of reactions, such as one nurse fainting after receiving it, and others experiencing elevated heart rates. Fear.

2020 was like many other year. Tumultuous and divisive. But this one seemed to not only hit us hard but rot us to our cores. It was rancid with toxic drama, each and every day in your morning fishwrapper or your TEE VEE.. All with the expressed purposely of seemingly dividing us even more than we were.. If that is possible.

We knew 2020 would be awful. The election and all that. But we didn’t know we would be faced with a global virus .. that one kind of took us off guard, didn’t it.

Hopes and fears… Through all the years,

Are met with thee tonight.

Those words seem poignant.. Especially this year, as the “little star of Bethlehem” will appear for the first time since the Middle Ages.

And after the past 12 months, with fever pitched arguments raging over fevers, not one of us knows the future, has the magic answer, or can predict what the hands of time will share with in 2021. We are spectators in this global game. Faced with fears and hopes, we can choose the mental path we want..

Lockdowns and stress have caused chaos in our personal lives. The religious will look to that star of Bethlehem and see hope. They will see intuition, and they will see promise. Others may see just a natural course of space and time meeting at the right moment. Pure coincidence. Pure luck, and nothing more.

What do you see…

It reminds me of the movie SIGNS, one of M Night Shymalan’s strongest films. There is one important scene where Mel Gibson’s character is explaining what humanity will think as lights in the skies appear globally and aliens make themselves known. Hope? Or fear.. the age old question that the LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM so eloquently captures.


We have been through change and chaos and rampages before.. 12 months have done us justice..and sometimes harm. Christmas has always felt like that summary of the year, the final period of time is which we could take a brief break and try wrapping out heads around the whirlwind of the past few months prior.

There were other times in history where we were challenged in the hope vs fear department.. The Christmas of 2004 particularly stands out. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami occurred at 07:58:53 in local time on 26 December, with an epicenter off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. It was an undersea megathrust earthquake that registered a magnitude of 9.1–9.3 Mw, reaching a Mercalli intensity up to IX in certain areas.. Back in 2004, we reported that Christmas Day ended in a disaster..

We reported these awful facts:

The wall of water was 30 feet high!

Cars, people, and homes in the sea…

Vacationers among the dead and missing…

China offering aid…

People that were snorkeling were dragged along the coral and washed up on the beach, and people that were sunbathing got washed into the sea,” said Simon Clark, 29, a photographer from London vacationing on Ngai Island.

Bodies line the beaches…

Latest earthquake activity…

We can turn to local papers to see how other Christmas front pages reported the news of the days, with fears and hopes displayed properly.. We will go local on this one.

50 years ago, the 1960s ended with assassinations and war, malaise and a Hong Kong Flu pandemic.

The POTTSVILLE REPUBLICAN front page talked about how the government was in damage control over a vast civilian spying program being revealed… sound familar?

The dawn if the Reagan era brought a new hope in 1980, forty years ago .. The same paper spoke about hope during the Christmas season. The importance of dinners.. the traditions. Maybe it was those Americana Reagan ads of the 1980 campaign .. With a Charlie Brown comic to help.

1990 brought some fear.. The Gulf War run-up was beginning and the world was on edge about what would occur.. the local paper brought that to the forefront with hopes that troops would come home safety from the Middle East. Little did anyone know it would be 40 years later with troops still there!

In 1999, just days before the Y2K fears would be blown pieces, the local paper went to Sheppton to watch Santa happily sliding. An ad appeared next to the photo talking about following the Y2K issue on the 2000 millennium site at the paper (something I recall working on when I worked there that year):

And finally, just ten years ago, the swine flu was done . . . and stores were still open (but closing).. as evidenced by this front page photo showcasing the Schuylkill Mall shoppers, with a closed store in the background:

And now 2020.. the headlines we now encounter are raging with insanity. Nothing seems normal… nothing.

Fear. You decide…

After all, you have to ask yourself as to what kind of person are you. Are you the kind of person who signs, who sees miracles. Or do you believe that people just get lucky…

Is it possible that there are no coincidences.

The Christmas light will shine in 2020! First time since the 1200s. Look up! And ponder.. and conjure.. and wonder.


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