December 2018 Article

Dear JUMC Family and Friends,

This year marks to 200thanniversary of “Silent Night”, probably the most-sung of all the Christmas hymns. I offer this devotional for your reflection during the busy days ahead this Advent and Christmas season.

It happens every Christmas. Hustling, bustling, shopping, traveling, cooking. Parties, banquets, Santa Claus, pageants, decorations, trees, lights, clothes. 

We get caught up in the season of Christmas, stressed about making arrangements to see and please everyone, pressured to balance an already busy schedule with unlimited amounts of additional activities, pushed to attend, give, join, gather and perform. 

But it happens every Christmas. We are busily tending to our own flock, when out nowhere, the calm and peace and tranquility of Christmas comes. We are never prepared for it. We are always stunned. And amazed. And we experience the awe of the nativity, an event we never witnessed, but of which we somehow have mysterious first-hand knowledge. 

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.

It happens every Christmas, and it is frequently this hymn that catches us off guard. We vividly see and experience the serene relief of a world with a newly-born savior. 

Then we are transported to the nearby hillside, where shepherds busily tended their sheep, completely unaware that they had been chosen to receive the best news ever heard. We join them, trembling, no quaking, with fear. And above them, the sky is laid open with what can only be described as glory. 

Glories stream from heaven afar,
heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born.

And this we can’t imagine or experience first-hand. Neither Bach nor Mozart ever composed music that remotely compared to the songs the angels sang that night. The total, absolute majesty that only heaven could produce, suitable for the greatest tidings from a glorious God to his lonely creation. We know it is unfathomable, and reserved only for the time when we enter his glory. 

But we can see the glory in our Lord and Savior. He is our window, our path to our heavenly home. Even as a baby… 

Son of God, love's pure light;
radiant beams from thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,

Dear Father, 

It happens every Christmas. We get so caught up in the spirit of the season, that we lose sight of the meaning of Christmas, and the reason for the celebration in the first place. Keep us mindful that you are constantly reaching out for us, that you are always there for us. Just as you were many years ago on that amazing, Silent Night. Help us to see your glory through your glorious son, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!