In recent discussions and again last Sunday, in teaching a lesson on Christmas in our Jr. Church, I was again touched with the idea of the quiet of Christmas. The more I think about it, I”m not sure there was really much about the evening of the incarnation that made it truly a “Silent Night”. When you consider things realistically, and imagine yourself out in those fields with the shepherds…
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch F8 over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds F9 said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
A peaceful, uneventful night. Suddenly that silence is shattered, and the darkness is dispelled with a blinding light. Calloused hands instinctively drop their clattering staves so that eyes may be shielded. Bleating sheep scatter in every direction. The shepherds drop to their knees, eyes watering. Some are gasping for breath while others dare not take one. A heavenly messenger condescends to their fright, and offers comfort. Just as these rugged men are beginning to regain some composure, an astounding, thunderous chorus begins praising God, and it rings throughout the heavens and stirs every blade of grass, every hair on the back of their necks. The hands which had sheltered their eyes are now clapped tight over their ears. The marvelous tumult is at once overwhelming and irresistible.
When the angels depart (seemingly as quickly as they arrived), the immediate decision of the stunned shepherds is not to round up their sheep and get on with the task at hand. Oh no! Do you think they strolled along, chatting in hushed tones? I don’t! I picture them scrambling over the crunching brush, in the direction of the star, with breathless exclamations like,
“Did you see that? Angels!”
“The Messiah! Tonight!”
“What? My ears are still ringing!”
“I can’t believe it…we saw angels! Did you see how many there were?!?”
When they arrived in Bethlehem, they found God’s spotless Lamb. In a barn, which is not typically a quiet place. And He was a baby…not typically a quiet creature (no matter what the song says about “no crying He makes”). Of necessity, babies cry. We have no reason to believe that He was unlike any other baby who cries when he is cold or hungry. Mary probably understood His infant cries better than she did some of His statements when He grew older.
So….”Silent Night”? Probably not. There may have been no trumpets to announce His coming…no crowds cheering. But, who ever knew of a day full of more joyful noise than this? 🙂