Like many of you, I have been to untold number of Christmas programs. It seems that there is a favorite ending to all. Whether a children’s play, major choir program or beautiful Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, it usually ends with the congregation singing at least one verse of Silent Night. It is for many a favorite.
The carol is rather idyllic and perhaps that is why we like it so much. I frankly doubt that the manger scene was silent at all. It seems to me one could hear the sheep bleating, donkeys snorting and cows mooing. Quite a contrast for the baby that had just left Heaven filled with the angels’ song.
I doubt one would have thought of the manager as holy, either. The smell of the animals and residue they leave behind would have cast out all thoughts of a sterile and holy environment. The young couple had made the best of a dirty situation.
But think again about the sweet carol. It tells the simple, but powerful, story of the Christ Child and His birth to the young virgin. I love the line “all is calm, all is bright.” It brings calm to the heart to hear those words. It is as if all the noise of the hell that often surrounds us has vanished.In the birth of the child the frayed nerves of life are calmed.
Darkness has been dispelled because of the birth of this Christmas Child. His glory filled the humble manger as it will one day fill the Earth. The manger is a glimpse of the calm that will come when Christ sets all things right and His glory explodes the darkness of the Earth.
Franz Gruber captured the essence of the birth of Christ when he wrote “with the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus Lord at Thy birth.” The voices of hatred and defeat are silenced. Hell’s fury has been destroyed by the birth of a child. Let Earth, Hell and Heaven stand in awe of the magnificence of this moment. Redeeming grace has come in person. It has been displayed in a child.
I think I understand why he used the words “Silent Night.” In the end, all the evil of the world must stand silent in the face of the Christ Child. Hell is speechless. God defeated sin, death and Hell through the baby born that night in Bethlehem’s manger.
Silence often speaks of peace. When the whirlwind dies in a whimper, then comes a deafening, yet peaceful, silence. The storm has passed, and we are safe.
Isn’t peace what you feel singing Gruber’s beautiful Christmas song? Peace. Quiet. Soothed. Calmed. That is the message of Christmas. Christ has come. Let all the Earth keep silent. Our eternity is secure. Peace from the Prince of Peace.
Shalom and Merry Christmas from Polla and me.