A not so silent night

On a trip last week, I attended a special Andrew Peterson Christmas concert. I was struck by a line that opens his song, “Labor of Love:”

“It was not a silent night.”

Each year we sing of a silent night, a holy night. Holy, yes. But silent?

My limited experience with childbirth alone would indicate otherwise: think of the gasps, breaths and cries of the mother followed by the wails of the newborn child. Add to that the sounds of animals who do not move and bleat and chew cud noiselessly. And then there’s that “multitude of the heavenly host praising God.” Not a duet or a small chorus. A multitude.

Silent night?

I think what appeals to me about the song, “Silent Night” is that it paints a picture of what I’d like Christmas to be like: quiet, holy, peaceful and filled with beauty and contentment. But that’s not what Christmas looks like most years for me, especially this year.

For some reason this year, many of my clients have wanted to get projects either wrapped up or started before Christmas. This has meant a number of trips crammed into the holiday season. Travel has worn me and created a longing for a place of silence, of holiness, of peace.

I’ve found small pockets of that. Or correction: I’ve made a point to carve out these quiet moments for they do not come to me on their own. I need the still, silent moments to reflect on the deeper meaning of that child in the manager or else he becomes just another holiday symbol not all that much different than Santa or Rudolph, as bad as that sounds. I have to find the silent moments or I get lost and Christmas gets lost to me.

But amidst all the travel comes this reminder: It was not a silent night. Jesus did not come into a perfect world. He arrived smack dab in the dirt and smells of a manger, of parents on a trip with no hotel and of a land under oppression. He came into a very noisy and messy place.

A world very much like my own.

And in that realization of a not-so-silent night comes the true blessing of this season. God meets us in the ordinariness of our lives. He is found in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the stresses of the season and the busyness of the everyday.

I still need to seek out that stillness. But I also am starting to realize that Jesus came into a world that isn’t so silent and still. The shepherds found him in the midst of their world. And if I pay attention amidst all the craziness around me, I can do the same.

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