Silent night, holy night…
The song brings to mind images of moonlit fields and starry skies; shepherds laughing around a cosy fire; an awestruck husband and a contemplative new mum. We’re warmed as we recount the comforting joys of that night so long ago. Our hearts become settled, peaceful, serene…
But underneath the serenity were some ugly realities. For starters, the common notion among family friends and relatives was that Joseph was the dad. Jesus was—in their eyes—an illegitimate child. If there is any stigma to that in our day, it must be magnified a thousand times for us to understand the scandal behind the serenity of this quiet night.
But this scandal pales into insignificance compared to the horror of the second scandal, for on this idyllic night, Jesus was born, a spring of life among a sea of infant corpses. The children born in the months before and after this night would soon be slaughtered at the hand of an angry king simply for their proximity to the events of this serene night.
And if the second was more horrible than the first, the third scandal drowns them both in triviality, for the greatest scandal of this silent night is that God himself, in human flesh, lay wrapped in burial clothes at his birth, thus foreshadowing the day when man would execute the God-man as a criminal.
The ugliness underneath this serene night—far from destroying the beauty of its serenity—makes this night what it was. On this night, God became flesh, and lived among us! God stepped into our world to bear the weight of the curse just as we do, to struggle under the stigma of shame, to feel the sting of loss, to walk alongside us as we live out our exile here.
And we saw his glory. It was the glory of God’s only son. And he was full of grace and truth. That this silent night was right in the middle of scandal and struggle is what makes it so wonderful, for it was into that darkness that God shined the light of his son bringing hope to all peoples in all times.
May your Christmas be blessed. May your worship be joyful.
Grace to you.