Silent Night

I was thinking about the carol Silent Night the other day.  It’s a beautiful lullaby that you might sing to your brand new infant son on the night of his birth, but I’m not sure how true to life it is to the real story of Jesus’ birth.

If you read the story of Jesus’ birth according to the gospel of Luke, it sounds like it was anything but a silent night.

I had a baby once or twice.  Twice.  You don’t forget those experiences.  I had doctors and medicine and anything I could need.  Mary was giving birth under less than optimal circumstances.  I don’t know if she had her mother with her.  I don’t know if they called in a midwife.  But I do know that very few people have ever gone through labor in silence.

Once the baby is born, if they are healthy, they take their first breath and test their lungs with a scream of protest to the cold evening air.

Then there is the multitude of visitors that come in and ooo and aaah over the precious baby’s cheeks.

In Mary’s case, there are heavenly hosts singing and smelly strangers stopping by and then running off to invite the whole town over to see the newborn king.

It’s just hard for me to believe that there was anything calm or silent about this tremendous event.

But when the baby is all clean and tightly wrapped in a blanket and the visitors are all gone.  You do get a small moment before exhaustion sets in of peace and quiet.  It’s in that moment that you hold that baby close.  You breathe in the scent of his precious head and thank God for a healthy baby.

You pray ardently for God’s wisdom and blessing to follow you as parents as the sweet baby grows into the man he will become. In those silent, calm moments of the night, you sing your baby to sleep with a lullaby like Silent Night.  Praying he’ll sleep in heavenly peace (for at least 6 hours).

Because Mary was a real life person I can only imagine that the day Jesus was born was similar to the birth stories I’ve heard and experienced myself.  But maybe her story mirrors our experience of the holiday season.

Christmas is such a spectacular event you want to celebrate!  You fill every waking moment with Christmas music and festivities.  It’s a season you look forward to all year long, but it’s anything but calm and silent.

I pray that there are moments in this season where you can find peace and quiet.  After the  house is clean and decorated, the cookies are baked and cooled, the gifts are wrapped and under the tree, I pray that you hold your babies close and kiss their sweet heads.  Pray for peace and wisdom to follow you throughout the year.  And remember a baby that was born over 2,000 years ago; Son of God, love’s pure light.  Thank God for the dawn of redeeming grace and coming new year.  And sleep in heavenly peace.

O Holy Night

Raise your hand if you love Christmas music!  /

Raise your hand if you can hardly stand to hear a Christmas song by December 26th. /

It’s just the same 20 songs over and over and over again.  They are some of my favorite songs, but I do get sick of them.

I’m not there yet, though!

But I wonder how often I gloss over the songs that once were written with so much meaning.

We sang a number Christmas carols at my Bible study this morning.  A few of the phrases I’ve sung so many times really stuck out to me.

One of them was in O Holy Night.  It’s probably my favorite carol.  The music is so hauntingly beautiful that it may overpower the significant lyrics.  Read what they say:

It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining;

Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

The author of these lyrics was Placide Cappeau.  In 1847 he understood what occurred to me just last year.  People had been expecting a Messiah for centuries and in the past 400 years, God had been relatively silent.  His people lay brokenhearted until this night.  A baby was born in the most humble of places and hope spread across the world.  When he appeared, everything made sense again.  I can only imagine that for centuries people doubted God even existed, that he would really keep his promises.  But now the soul felt its worth.  Life had meaning again. A thrill of hope spread across a weary world.

I can see how that kind of hope makes you want to fall on your knees.

 

In the third verse Cappeau wrote shockingly, liberal phrases for his time:

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother.

And in His name, all oppression shall cease.

He got a lot of flak for these words.  Cappeau was a Frenchman and though slavery was rare in France in the 1800s, there were many slaves in America when he wrote these words.  A few short years later, our country would go to war over slavery.  I can only imagine how the oppression Christians have dealt throughout history in God’s name breaks His heart.  “Truly he taught us to love one another.”  May that lyric burn in your heart this season.

 

 

The lyrics to this song, but more so – the promise Jesus fulfilled that Holy Night, make me want to fall on my knees.

I pray that you pay attention to the words that you sing this season.  Feel the depth of their significance.  May there be moments when you enthusiastically mean what you sing, if you can get any sound out at all.

 

 

 

I’ll dissect more carols in the coming days.