This weekend, we will enter the Advent Season. In the Christian Calendar, we have just completed the year, and we are entering into a new year as we wait – we wait for the coming of the Messiah.
Also this weekend the Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, and it has also become the biggest shopping frenzy of the year. Black Friday, black Monday… shop until you drop, or perhaps this year, you can let your fingers and Amazon do the work for you. We are already watching the Christmas movies (our favourite thing is to predict what is going to happen – and usually we are right!) It has an air of unreality. We can get caught in the expectations, the glamour, the busyness.
Often, we become overwhelmed, tired, and even disappointed. Perhaps the gift of Christmas is to shine light into our darkness, into our brokenness. And Advent shows us the way. It gives us focus. It has become my favourite holy season.
As has become my habit, I will post about Advent for the next four weeks. Thanks for joining me as we walk through these beautiful words: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love. To start off this coming season, I post one of my most popular posts from 2012. Was that Silent night really so silent?
And I think about that much loved Christmas Carol, Silent Night, and wonder – was it really so quiet? If you listen in your head, you can hear the donkey’s braying and the sheep bleating, and if your senses are really tuned, the barnyard smells drift in. Perhaps a rooster crows in the distance. The sound of large groups of people gathering, taxes to be paid and a bustling unsettled community there to do Caesar Augustus’ bidding.
And then you hear it, the mother’s gasps of pain, the baby’s cry. A Saviour is born. It is romantic to us, looking back from the twenty-first century, etched on ornaments, painted on cards, sold in a million varieties, the nativity how ever you want it!
But I think it was far from romantic that night. It was sweat and tears and noise and smells, and in the middle of all of it… unspeakable joy. So full of joy that the heavens opened and angels sang! Hardly silent, I think!!
So where is the silence? In this waiting for Christmas, this beginning of Advent Season, I long, more than ever for the stillness of my heart. To stop, to listen, to rest. I was reading a devotional this morning by Rob Descotes from Psalm 46:10, which says “Be still… and know that I am God.” I’ve been thinking about that all day… Descotes suggests that these words were given as a command in the midst of chaos, of war… and God was reminding them that He was in control…
And I thought… how appropriate. In the middle of the chaos of the First Christmas there was a far greater plan… and in my life, in all of life, there is a bigger plan. God says to me… Be still…there is holy silence in the midst of all the noise and distractions.
So, “Silent Night”… as we enter into this which can be the busiest of seasons, full of noise and hustle and expectations and spending, and overindulging… I just want to stop. To savor the silence, to be grateful for all the gifts life brings, to be thankful for a God who sends a little baby to be human, just like us, so that we can be known and loved by a God who cares. I quiet my heart… and listen.