Carol Silent night (John Freeman Young 1887 based on Joseph Mohr 1818)
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!
Sometimes there’s a Christmas moment of calm: before guests arrive, or perhaps after they’ve left!
When the angels departed, the shepherds had their moment of calm, to pause and think, before going to Bethlehem to see the baby. In the busyness of Christmas, it’s good to stop and reflect, and maybe notice something you’ve not seen before.
Reading (Luke 2:15-20)
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Reflection (by Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani)
It would be naïve to think the stable scene was calm and serene. In reality it was a dirty, smelly barn where a woman had gone through the pains of labour alone and far from home.
It will have been noisy, chaotic, messy. Mary and Joseph are likely to have felt frightened and insecure. And yet, into this confusion came baby Jesus bringing the gift of God’s peace.
The incarnation is a constant reminder that Jesus, who is Emmanuel (“God is with us”), offers inner serenity and calm even in the most traumatic of our human experiences. To know that we are loved and accepted unconditionally – that we don’t always have to be in control – is God’s gift to each of us.
Our problems won’t be solved nor our lives made perfect. But God’s peace will carry us gently through the turbulence, if we just pause to recognise and feel it.
During the pandemic, many charities have seen their income fall at the same time as demands for their help have risen.
Can you take time today to research a charity, local or global, and sign up to support it?
God of peace, in moments of calm and silence, you help us to pause and to see afresh. Give us grace to notice both the signs of your presence and the needs of others today.