I love the Christmas carol Silent Night. I love the peaceful significant serenity of being surrounded by candlelight as those around me sing the words.
As Christmas approaches, I find myself thinking a lot of Mary that night in the stable. Was it a silent night? Mary trusted God and willingly surrendered herself as His servant. She believed in God’s word and promises to her. Yet, I ponder, what was going through Mary’s mind as they approached Bethlehem? She had to be exhausted. She had to be feeling pain. Was she worried at all or completely resting in the peace of God despite her exhaustation and pain? Did she look at Joseph trusting he would take care of her and this baby? Did the animals surrounding her in the stable sense the significance of this event, this birth of the baby? Was the smell unbearable?
We enjoy children’s Christmas plays this time of year. There is nothing cuter than seeing a young boy and young girl dressed up as Mary and Joseph surrounding a wooden manger with a baby, usually a lifelike doll, inside. These plays help children understand the meaning of Christmas. A few years ago, I played the part of Mary in a play at church. It opened my heart to wondering…wondering about Mary on that night.
We sing Christmas carols about silent night, all is calm. Childbirth is a time of great anticipation. It certainly is not a time of calmness. Then, the baby is born…coming into the world screaming…the mother snuggles the baby close and the baby’s screams hush. All becomes calm.
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…
I reflect. I think about how so far away that sense of calm feels in my own life which instead feels so busy and chaotic. It’s not that I am out shopping for the perfect gifts or baking dozens of cut out cookies. It’s a restlessness. It’s a longing for some stillness.
Someone nailed it yesterday in a conversation I was having at work. She expressed the modern day hype of Christmas and all the expectations that we place on Christmas. Then, we can’t live up to those expectations. Because it’s Christmas, it just seems that much more magnified when the disappointment sets in.
This year as Christmas approaches, I want to choose to focus on expectant Hope. I believe that even though Mary didn’t understand everything going on in her world, she trusted and she hoped in God. Trust and Hope can birth a silent night despite the chaotic circumstances surrounding us. I long for stillness and peace. I long for a silent night where my expectations are in His peace and His hope.
I will not let the world define Christmas for me. Instead, I will rest in the expectations of Christmas in His Hope and His Joy. Just as those who witnessed the star guiding them to the Christ child were overjoyed, this joy can consume our Christmas celebrations and our lives every single day. Just as Mary placed her trust in God despite her circumstances, we can place our trust in Him.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of you! May your expectations of Christmas be in Him…He who is faithful.