It’s that time of the year again. Everyone is running around, trees are being put up and decorated, presents being bought and wrapped, travel plans being made and tickets purchased. It’s all exhausting. Last year I posted a blog about my own childhood memories of Christmas – namely, none. We didn’t celebrate Christmas in any way.
I do remember hearing Christmas carols in stores. I remember hearing, and later singing in school, one carol in particular that I found very beautiful. Of course, I had to ignore the words, which were all about that silly and dangerous myth of Jesus Christ. But I loved the melody and the quiet peaceful sound of the opening lines: “Silent night, holy night.” Well, the silent part, more than the holy, I suppose. But then that wonderful line, “All is calm.” What a beautiful idea. All is calm. Have you experienced that? Ever? I guess I have a few times, but not very often. Calm is something that we rarely feel in this busy world, so it’s good to be reminded about it.
And this wonderful song reminds us of more than that. It reminds us about where we should really be in our thoughts in this season. We should imagine ourselves, shepherds or peasants, hearing a nearby commotion, and seeing some kind of procession arrive at a barn near an inn. It’s chilly, with a bright moon and shining stars. As we walk up the hill to see what’s going on, we feel a need to be quiet. We see the strangers in their fine clothing, with their camels and servants. And then, as we come closer, we can see the mother and Child sitting on the straw of the barn, surrounded by amazing gifts. Except for the faint breeze, it is quiet. The strangers are kneeling with heads bowed. The father is standing over the child and His mother. We want to ask, we want to know, but we don’t speak, because we do know. This night, this silent night, is a holy night, and it’s because of the birth of this Child.
All is calm and all is bright. And the world has forever changed this night; something wonderful, something more precious than the gold on the straw has arrived. We cannot know what this baby has brought, or who He is. But we know that someday, we will know.
All those years ago, when I would stand still listening to Silent Night as it played from a speaker in a department store, or as I stood mouthing the words in my classroom (and leaving out the religious parts, as instructed by my mother), perhaps I also knew in my heart that someday I would come to learn what so many people in the world learned about the birth of that baby. And thank God, it came to pass. Now I know that on that silent and holy night, Christ the Savior is born. Sing hallelujah.
Thank you, Sy.
Sy, your post brings to mind a memory from a decade ago, Christmas 2007, when I experienced what can only be described as a perfect, holy moment in the early hours of Christmas day. I plan to write a detailed post about this moment on my blog soon (probably Monday, to mark the ten year anniversary).
Also, my Christmas card should be coming to you soon. Things have been sort of hectic around here and I’m still sending out cards.
Lastly, have you read God’s Planet by Owen Gingerich? I believe you would greatly enjoy it. I finished it last week and it’s become one of my favorite books.
A very Merry Christmas to you, my friend. Peace of Christ.
Thanks Ethan. I havent read it, but I will put it on my list. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I will be in touch after the New Year