Silent Night, Holy Night
All is Calm, All is Bright
Long before I knew what an introvert was, I craved peace and calm in my days. I looked forward to evenings curled up on the sofa with a book to read and perhaps a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. I didn't come to enjoy tea until much later. ;)
There were many Christmas seasons that my husband would ask me what I wanted for Christmas and with a sigh, I would always tell him that I just wanted some "peace and quiet". He doesn't dare ask me these days for he knows what the response will be and since he is the only other human in the house, any lack of quiet cannot be blamed on the children.
In a previous church, our pastor would give a similar sermon before each Holiday season. He would remind people that families can be messy and that Thanksgiving and Christmas may require people to be in close contact with those that they avoid the rest of the year.
His advice was always to "be at peace as much as possible as it depends on you", to remember that relationships are more important than being correct on our opinions, and that we may only have one time a year to reflect Christ to our family. I remember that each November, even though there is no one I'm spending the Holidays with that I wouldn't love to see each day of the year.
Instead these days, when I reflect on peace, I think of how one with a chronic illness needs as many stress free days as possible. Living in a fallen world where stuff happens makes that impossible but I do what I can in my ability to control my days. All of these are things I write about often.
This past week I was thinking of the Nativity and what it must have been like for the Holy Family on the night of the birth of Jesus. It was probably fairly quiet for the shepherds out in the fields with the sheep. However, I doubt it was quiet in the town of Bethlehem with it being full of the descendants of David.
Instead of a silent night, it would not surprise me to find it was quite loud with rowdy Roman soldiers arguing with annoyed tax payers; not to mention the horses, cattle, sheep, and perhaps a few camels here and there.
I have often wondered what Mary thought in that place, probably surrounded with animals, knowing that she was in the process of giving birth to God's Child. Did this give her peace, knowing He was taking care of her? It may have but I'm thinking the thoughts of her teenage mind had to include fear... and not the least amount of confusion as to how God allowed her to be giving birth in these surroundings.
I have long written that we Protestants do not give Mary enough credit. In the effort to avoid any look of worshiping the mother of Jesus, we seem to forget that she was just that... the mother of the Lord. She was one special young woman.
At least Mary had experienced some supernatural events by this time but one has to think of Joseph and what he was pondering. Knowing how earthly fathers can be at the birth of their own children, think of how Joseph was feeling at the birth of God's child. A child for whom he felt he would be responsible to protect and provide for I'm certain.
No, that first night was indeed a Holy night but I'm not sure it was peaceful and quiet. Profound, yes. Thought provoking, most definitely. Peaceful... only if it were a God given supernatural peace that flooded the small family and those who came to visit and that is entirely possible.
The earth will not know a permanent peace until Christ returns again to set up His Kingdom for good and the enemy of our souls is locked away where he cannot roam the earth looking for whom he may devour.
Jesus did give us a gift that Christmas, when he arrived at the first Advent. Peace in our hearts was now possible. Before He went to the cross, He said we would receive "peace that passes all understanding". I've felt that peace during those times when the reality of circumstances was anything but peaceful but inside there was a deep, lovely calm.
What can we give Him this Christmas? I think one thing in our lives that would bring Him great joy was to bring peace into the fellowships in which we find ourselves. To bite our tongue when we want to respond to a false accusation by a person well known for stirring up trouble. To walk away from a situation that would otherwise end in great debate.
Not everyday, mind you. For God does call us at times to stand our ground and to be His salt and light to the world. There are those whom He ordains to forge Truth in a dark world. But during these days ahead, when families are surrounding the dinner table, we can give Him the gift of bringing peace to the Season.
Image: Season of Peace