“Silent night, holy night…. all is calm, all is bright.”
Those words make me stand still, reminding me of Christmas Eve candlelight services of my youth, with an entire church holding candles, singing carols and preparing for the biggest day of the year. I long for the still, the calm, the holy, so I sing the words, though the candle of my youth feels a bit dimmer, a little drenched in days that leave me praying for the holiness we all stop once a year to sing about.
“Joy to the World”
This song begins with four words that we long for all year long, if we’re honest. It’s been a brutal fall, with news stories that leave me longing for joy to permeate the world in the midst of what feels like our darkest hour. When a man walks into a church so similar to the churches people all across America attend and methodically kills even the youngest of its members, I have to keep singing for joy, because without the song of joy ringing through our hearts, the silence sings of sorrow.
“Mary, Did You Know?”
It’s the question I would ask her if I could. Did you know the heartache you would feel as you watched the life of your son? When the angel told you of glad tidings and good news, did you ever know your greatest joy would bring your greatest sorrow? Would you say that every gladdest moment has the potential to bring our greatest grief? That all joy brings sorrow, even the birth of a heavenly king?
“O, Holy Night”
The holiest of nights changed all the world. Believers and unbelievers all count time by the birth of the baby boy who had angels and shepherds heralding his entrance. His entrance proclaimed in the heavens and celebrated by the shepherds keeping their sheep. It sounds so normal to us thousands of years later, but to have been the shepherd, on the frailest fringes of society and be asked to celebrate the birth of the newborn king. Lonely years of sheep herding turned into a night all of history would remember.
“O, Come Let Us Adore Him”
The invitation to come in adoration of something bigger than ourselves, bigger than the world we can see around us. It’s an invitation into the holiest of nights that brought joy to the world, where a mother births in the darkest of nights a newborn king, worshipped by all creation. It’s my favorite of all the songs. It’s the invitation to all the uninvited. Come inside the innermost circle of all circles. Everything you’ve fought for your entire life isn’t worth as much as this invitation. You don’t have to wonder if you’ve been welcomed in when the king of the world says he has your name inscribed on the palm of his hand.
“Little Drummer Boy”
I’ve felt my beating heart pound before the baby boy born to be king. Though no drummer, I’ve brought my gifts before Him, saying I’ll give what I have, and I’ll bring to Him every good thing He’s given me. He’s the initiator of recycled gifts. Every gift I’ve ever given Him is one He gave me first. I’m only returning to Him the things freely given. This open-handed gift giving to the king who gave me my world. So like the little boy who plays his drum before the king, I give my gifts to the one who gave it all.
May your Christmas be merry and bright. May every sorrow bring great joy. May your face this year turn toward the king of all heaven and earth.