“Silent Night” is my favorite Christmas Carol. It portrays in a beautiful way the quiet and humble birth of our Lord. He came into this world largely without fanfare. There was no glitz and no glamour. No media attention. No crowds swarming to see this amazing event. Jesus’ birth occurs without any of the events that we associate with great moments in history.
It was a silent night with God in human form, sleeping in a borrowed manger, in a lowly barn, in a little town called Bethlehem. Few people knew that one of the greatest miracles of all time had just occurred.
But then it was as though heaven could contain its joy no longer. An angel appears to shepherds and announces the birth of their Savior and tells them where to find the baby. And then the heavens open, and a multitude of angels appear (hundreds? Thousands?) and begin to praise God. “Glory to God in the highest,” is their message. Were they singing it?
How many times did they repeat their praise? How beautiful and glorious was their singing? The shepherds hurry to Bethlehem to see for themselves. And when they find Mary and Joseph and Jesus what do they do? They tell everyone they can what they have seen and heard.
The silent night was silent no longer. Angels singing. Shepherds witnessing. The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I imagine the stable was never again quite so quiet. People must have come to see this baby announced by angels.
When the shepherds finally leave to return to their flocks, they did not go quietly. We are told they returned praising and glorifying God for all that
they had seen and heard. God often works in quiet and even silent ways. But it’s ironic and even tragic that, at Christmas, the gospel is an almost silent witness to what God has done. The sounds of this world, urging us to spend and to buy and to party, often drown out the voice of God.
And our voices are often silent when it comes to matters of faith. We are afraid be a witness for the gospel. We are reluctant to talk to others about God. We don’t want to be seen as someone who is trying to convert people to our faith. But we can never convert anyone—only God can do that. Our calling is simply to be a witness to what God has done and is doing in this world.
Some approach this task as a great burden. But when you witness something wonderful it is never a burden to tell others about it—telling others is the most natural thing in the world. When your child was born it wasn’t a burden to call friends and family with the news—it was something you couldn’t wait to do, and in telling others it added to your joy.
When we see God doing something wonderful or miraculous, we will want more than anything else to tell everyone we know about it. A witness just tells what they have seen and heard. So to be a witness at home, school, work, or out in the world means nothing more than to speak about what you have heard and seen God doing.
So if you are having a hard time getting excited about telling others about Jesus maybe you need to do something to see for yourself what God has done (like the shepherds did). Spend more time listening for what God is doing and watching for the quiet but miraculous ways that God enters this world to save it and bless it. And when you see and hear for yourself what God is doing, the most natural thing in the world will be to tell someone about it.
May your Christmas be more than silent this year.
Grace and Peace,