We live in a very noisy culture. It seems that everywhere we look someone, or something is competing for our attention. It can be difficult to fix our eyes on what is important when music, media platforms, and your peers or colleagues are expecting your fixed attention. The busyness of our culture is not new, it is a battle we fight daily. And yet, around Christmas time that busyness intensifies. We are busy getting ready and doing all we can to make sure that the cosmetics of December 25th are perfect.
Our senses are bombarded with marketing ploys, activities, and different things to purchase for our homes and families. I will be the first to say that I love Christmas decorations, and all of the details of this beautiful holiday. There is just so much to be enjoyed, with lights, ornaments, and the warmth these decorations bring to our homes. Truly, it is wonderful. And yet, this busyness can cause us great discontentment. I have found that while I love activity, I crave a silent night. A quiet night, where I can sit in the calm of a moment, and both reflect and rest.
Every Christmas, churches, and individuals all over the nation sing that old song Silent Night. It paints a lovely picture, doesn’t it? A perfect moment, a quiet moment, when the Christ child was born. “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright”. Deep down, I think this is what many of us desire out of Christmas. A truly silent night. That old traditional hymn poetically describes the ideal Christmas. I think many of us look to attain this type of night every December 25th. But due to the nature of the holiday, few really and truly achieve it. For any number of reasons, we are busy people, living in a busy culture, succumbing many times to the noise that each holiday brings with it. Do not get me wrong, there is beauty in the noise. Often it means that our lives are full of wonderful things and people. But sometimes, I crave a silent night, and a calm holiday, where “all is calm, and all is bright”.
Recently, I have pondered the original Christmas, and the birth of Christ. Unlike that beautiful hymn, Christ’s birth was far from a silent night. Mary and Joseph were in a packed city, had no place to stay, and Mary gave birth in a barn. Admittedly, I have not spent much time in barns throughout my life. But I cannot imagine that the animals within cared much for who was within. Furthermore, angels appeared to shepherds on a hillside, and the Bible tells us that a “multitude” were present. A multitude of angels glorifying God for the birth of his son, is far from a silent night. After the multitude returns to heaven, the awestruck shepherds went in search of the Christ child, only to find him, and proceed to tell everyone they could the good news of Jesus’ birth.
We are not told what Mary thought about any of this, whether or not she was disappointed in the series of events, or in the rather public birth. Instead we are told that she “pondered these things in her heart”. So I invite you to sit in wonder for the rest of the Christmas season. In the noisy world we live in, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to execute the perfect Christmas. We need the perfect Christmas tree, the perfect family gathering, with the whole family in matching Christmas pajamas. All wonderful things, and sweet memories, as long as you do not forget the reason for your celebration. Mary did not ponder her thoughts audibly, I am a verbal processor, she pondered them in her heart. So I invite you to sit in remembrance of the greatest gift, the brightest light, and the true peace amidst our Christmas season.