What's your favorite Advent or Christmas carol? I have many, but "Silent Night" comes quickly to mind. I long for the world to be calm and bright, I suppose, but the line which really "sings" to me every time is "with the dawn of redeeming grace". That's what this time of year is all about, right? The essence of Christmas is the arrival of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. How easy it is to get caught up in Christmas shopping and cookie baking and activities and parties and forget the whole point. Our nights oftentimes aren't silent during Advent.
A few years ago my husband, Mark, and I lived in the North Carolina mountains when we worked at Laurel Ridge. The winters were quite cold and the evenings were very warm with no city lights to be found for miles and miles. We often sat outside and marveled at the stars and the sound of silence. One December, as I was standing on our deck, I heard singing. Sure enough, there was a group of Moravians staying across the hillside at Higgins Lodge and they were outside on its back terrace singing "Silent Night". The sound carried so magically to our home that it was as though they were right next to me. I stood in the cold, with tears running down my face, and listened to their voices coming through the darkness as I felt the power of those words: "with the dawn of redeeming grace". It's so easy to go through the motions and sing the words without really paying attention; on that night, with no cars going by or street lights or other noises, surrounded by God's glorious creation, I think I experienced by first true "Silent Night".
Each year we welcome the Christ Child and celebrate the joy, peace, light, and love His birth brings to our world. How do our lives reflect and spread that joy, peace, light, and love? As we give thanks to God for all the ways He blesses us, for His incredible never-ending redeeming grace, and for His most precious gift of all, may we prayerfully seek answers to that question. May we remember our own need for grace and how it has been extended to us through Christ, and share more grace with others. May we look to the New Year with open eyes, ears, and hearts as we consider how we express our gratitude to God through our own generosity. Most of all, over the coming weeks may we find space for silence. May we hurry towards God and be quiet in His presence. Amazing things can happen when we do.
"With the angels let us sing, Alleluia to our King. Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!"