Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Silent Night

It's 7:30 in the morning as I write this, and I just put my son back in his crib after feeding him. I usually go back to bed myself and try to get a little more sleep before starting my day. But this time it took a little longer than usual to get him to go back to sleep. He's one month old today, but I think he knows that if he doesn't go to sleep right away I'll just hold and rock him, and we both like those quiet times. Yesterday was an unusually fussy day for him, so this morning's quiet moment was especially nice.

With Advent coming to a close and Christmas just a few days away, and with a brand new baby in my arms, I can't help but think of Mary holding her little one.

The Bible tells of Jesus' birth in such simple language: "While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them" (Luke 2:6-7).

I imagine it was a lot more complicated than that. The birth of a child is a complicated and messy thing, even today in hospitals. I can't imagine doing it the way Mary a stable with no help. I imagine it wasn't an especially silent night, at least not at first. The noises of a woman in labor, the sounds of restless animals disturbed by the woman's noises, the cries of a baby pushed suddenly into a world much bigger and colder than the one it had, it could not have been very quiet.

The silence and stillness would have come later, when the animals had quieted, when Joseph slept and Mary, exhausted but too full of wonderment to sleep, held her sleeping newborn son.

I am in awe of my child--how much more so she must have been, holding "the maker of the moon...the author of the faith that could make the mountains move." Did she know what the future would bring? I think she knew she held the Messiah, but did she know what that really meant?

Do we know, today, what that really means, or does that get lost in the not-so-silent moments that invade this time of year? The child whose birth we celebrate is our Messiah, our Savior--God become man, who took our sins on Himself and paid our debt so that we could have eternal life with Him. This is no little thing. It is something to wonder and marvel at, and to praise God for! Take a moment to reflect on this and to give thanks to God, and for today's prayer, read the words of this hymn:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

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