Silent Night, Holy Night
What do you miss most during December? For me, it is silence. Perhaps this is because there is so much to do. Perhaps it is because the end of the calendar year brings its own problems and concerns. Regardless of why things turn out that way, the effect is still the same: Christmas rushes upon us, and we have no time to embrace it.
Of course, there are those who say that you have to make time for silence or solitude. With all due respect to them, they are usually the ones with controllable calendars and sufficient time for everything they need to do.
Maybe you are more like them.
Or maybe you are more like me.
For Jesus, time away and time alone were an integral part of His ministry. Whether preparing to face the next day or preparing to face His own death, Jesus needed time alone with His Father so that His mind would be focused and His spirit would be ready.
Even now, in the twenty-first century since His birth, we need to follow Christ’s example – an example that He set from the time of His birth.
Most of you know the story of the birth of Jesus as set forth in the New Testament’s Gospel of Luke:
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:1-7, NKJV
Two seemingly ordinary people – husband and wife – are called to Bethlehem for a census. The wife is heavy with child. They cannot find a place to rest – or sleep – or give birth to the child.
So they make due by finding an unspecified place (perhaps a stable or a cave), and the mother brings her Son into the world.
As He takes His first breath, His tiny cry breaks the night’s silence.
The Son of God is born.
Before the arrival of the angels and the shepherds and the magi, there was one man, one woman, and one child alone in the quiet of one holy night.
And the world was never the same.
There are many songs and hymns written about Christmas. One of my favorites, perhaps my most favorite, is “Silent Night, Holy Night.” Written two hundred years ago by an Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr, it made its debut to the accompaniment of a guitar because, according to one legend, the church organ was broken.
God really does have a sense of humor, and it is almost always designed to make us stop and think.
Of all the verses in this now-beloved Christmas carol, there is one that, despite my best efforts, I cannot finish. A lump forms in my throat every time, and tears fill my eyes. Those nearby are never quite sure what to make of it.
But for a moment – just a moment – I am one with Christ. Whether in a church filled with people or just by myself in my home or my car, the words fill my mind as the music fills my ears:
Son of God,
Love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace.
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
This Christmas, may the Son of God – Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, “God With Us” – break through the noise and chaos of your life and bring you the peace that only He can give.
-- Dr. John Morris