Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas and Silent Night

I have a confession to make. And it’s not an easy one for someone who freely confesses a love of the Christmas season and Christmas music in particular. So this is difficult to admit, but…...Silent Night has never been one of my favorite Christmas Carols. There I said it. You probably think of me as shallow. Or worse, heartless. I still remember my watching my grandmother, her eyes moist with tears while we were watching the Andy Williams sing Silent Night on TV. After a long, reverent pause, she said, “That is just the most beautiful Christmas song ever”. But not me. I wondered what was wrong with me, that I didn’t feel Grandma’s emotion… the words were sweet, but not particularly moving. It was just a nice little lullaby.

“Silent Night! Holy Night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child,
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace;
Sleep in heavenly peace."

Now please understand, I love Christmas. I have a deep, but tender testimony of the Reason for the Season. And, I don’t hate the song, it’s just never been very meaningful for me. I know and love the sweet story of how this beautiful hymn came into existence. Some would call it a tender mercy indeed- and I love stories that testify of God's tender mercies. I have sung this beloved hymn many, many times. There are many Christmas songs and carols that move me to tears. Just not Silent Night.

(you knew that was coming, didn’t you?)
Until the day my life changed so terribly and so drastically that I feared I would never sleep again. My sweetheart passed from this life on a bright summer day. After an afternoon and evening of grief filled emotion, the day finally ended leaving me in a dark, empty house. My heart hurt, and sleep was not to be. In my sorrow, I turned in prayer to the hymns that I knew would calm my heart and bring me peace. Wrapped in Robert’s robe for comfort, I curled up in my bed and cried as the music played. Finally, in an answer to desperate prayer for peace, a familiar, if out of place, hymn began to play. As it did, the words from the third verse filled my mind: 

“Silent Night! Holy Night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth;
Jesus, Lord at thy birth."

Redeeming Grace- what sweet peace those words brought to my soul! Jesus is Lord! His Grace is sufficient to redeem me. His resurrection ensured that Robert and I, too, will live again and be reunited. At last, I could sleep in the heavenly peace that is made possible only by the Son of God. The sweet tender mercy of that Christmas Carol, Silent Night, had finally become a tender mercy for me. I cried.

We live in a time when there is much unrest. There is not a corner of the world untouched by dissension. And there is not a corner of the world that is not in desperate need of a Merry Christmas and a Silent Night. We need Christ. Christ, the Savior, who was born on that Silent Night. There is nothing that His Grace cannot overcome, no sorrow his love cannot heal.. Christ, who loved each of us so much that He died and came forth on the third day for the Salvation of all. Nothing is more important and nothing gives us more lasting peace than our faith in Him. And all of this message is embodied in a simple but uplifting Christmas carol:

“Silent Night! Holy Night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heav’nly hosts sing Allelujiah!
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Chris, the Savior, is born!”

I cannot hear or sing this sacred hymn without tears filling my eyes in gratitude for this gift! For that reason, I want to share it with you. 

  Merry Christmas and Silent Night!