On this last Sunday in Advent, when our focus is on Mary, it seems appropriate that we choose a quiet and reflective hymn. The night before and during Jesus' birth was anything but silent in the outside world. But as this homeless couple sought for a place to have their first child, God was at work. We often think that Gabriel, God's messenger and divine planner, could have done a better job, but God was at work in God's mysterious ways to provide for Jesus' birth. Thus, it was a holy night and it was a silent night when we remember that God says, "Be still and know that I am God."
I remember my first Christmas Eve in a small church on the industrial east side of St. Paul. It was snowing as we began the 11:00 p.m. candlelight service. I do not remember my sermon. I am sure that no one else remembers either. What I do remember was the church full for the first time since I began in September. We turned out all the lights except the light on the cross, and each one was given a candle. We closed the service singing the most famous of Christmas hymns, "Silent Night, Holy Night."
Advent was over and we had begun the glorious celebration of all that we had been waiting for. Advent is waiting with a sure and certain hope, and we get ready to taste the first fruits of that hope tomorrow and Tuesday.
The night ahead, O Lord, is silent and holy, but our hearts are already bursting with joy. Amen!
1 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.
2 Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!
3 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.