“Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright.”
This beautiful carol tells us the true meaning of Christmas. A miracle has happened. The birth of a child, a child that is not like any other. A child with a destiny. In a simple stable the savior of the world arrives. Serenades by the looing of cattle, the baaing of sheep, and most likely a simple quiet lullaby sung by his mother. What God has done is almost incomprehensible; the mystery so big and so deep that its meaning and significance is often lost on us. With all the frenzy of shopping, decorating, baking- all the traditions that we hold dear, we often miss the true meaning of Christmas. We need to slow down and take a deep breath and savor the quiet stillness of the Nativity.
Within our revelry of various Christmas parties and family gatherings, there comes that time when suddenly we are brought back to Bethlehem. We see a weary couple far from home, struggling to find a comfortable place to share the joy of the birth of their child. We see the familiar scene of the parents and the baby surrounded by shepherds and various animals huddled around a humble manger. This image is quiet, still and stark in its simplicity. We are drawn to the incredible and amazing silence leaving the hustle and bustle of all the revelry behind.
There is comfort in the silence. We are able to listen to our hearts. We don’t want words, only silence; Christmas silence. Christmas silence is special; it not only tells us of love, it lets us be in love. God has entered the world to whisper to us that He loves us and in that same silence we realize how much we love Him. We come to know that we can love each other. Each Christmas reminds us that the gift of God’s love is here, we need only to unwrap it (if we wish) and share it with others.
We cannot contain our joy, so we celebrate in crazy ways. St. Francis once purportedly told his friars to smear the walls with meat to express how much joy he wanted the world to share at Christmas. (Kind of messy, but…?) However, he also taught that Christmas should be simple, often saying that at Christmas, simplicity is given a place of honor, poverty is exalted, and humility is commended.
We tend to forget the humbleness and simplicity of that first Christmas. How many of you try to outdo your neighbors with your outdoor decorations? The oddest combination that I have seen was a traditional manger scene with the addition of Micky Mouse, Donald Duck, the Ninja Turtles, and various Sesame Street characters visiting the Christ-child. We have a tendency to go overboard!
We need to draw inward and remember the quiet, humble scene of a mother cradling her newborn son in that stable so long ago. Remember the stillness and silence of the night. Take ownership of that silence. Make haste, and rush to that silent night hoping that it will never end; longing for the day that the gift of God’s powerful, unexplainable, awesome love is shared by all.
Take the time in your hectic schedule to stop and listen to that still small voice of God in your heart. Listen to the deafening silence of the Nativity of our Lord. May God bless you with the peace and joy of the season.
Rev. Fr. Andrew Smith grew up in Appleton. WI. He studied Theology, Philosophy and Sociology at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, WI and completed his theological studies at Holy Redeemer Seminary of the UICC. Fr. Andrew was ordained to the diaconate in December of 2010 and to the Order of Presbyters in May of 2011. He entered his novitiate in the Order of Preachers Old Catholic in August of 2016 and took his three- year vows in May 2017. Fr. Andrew is pastor of St Dominic Old Catholic Church in Oshkosh, WI. He enjoys cooking, reading, writing and is an avid history buff.