I could use a little more silence in my life. How about you? Chaos clings to me like velcro. It’s to the point where I am far less productive–my mind races–when it doesn’t have sound somewhere. When I’m alone, I need to have the music playing–something to break the silence. Yet, even still, I know that I need more silence in my life. Quiet time to reflect. To Breathe. To be.
December is a magical time of the year. Filled with hope and expectation. Filled with joy and anticipation. And filled with extra activities and events. And a double portion of stress with a side of chaos. Don’t get me wrong. I love it all. But so often, half way through the month, I always go back to the nostalgia of simpler years. The days when I was a kid and didn’t have to stress about all the doing–and the paying–for Christmas. In those days you get to soak in all the extra and repel much of the stress. Welcome to adulthood. This stress is mine now.
Silent Night. Holy Night. All is calm…
This iconic Christmas lullaby is foundational to welcoming the tender and mild Christ Child. What would Christmas Eve worship look like if we didn’t illuminate our faces with candles as we sung this hymn. As the Light of the World comes into it, His light passes on to us. Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation–the putting on of flesh of the savior of the world. And we proclaim peace upon this night as we remember and celebrate the arrival of the Prince of Peace. But was it really silent? The labor, birth, and hours after each of my children came into this world was far from silent. And calm wouldn’t have been an adjective I would use either.
What does it mean to reframe this world shifting night into the chaos that was likely happening. The holy family had just traveled 90 miles. Today, doctors hardly let expectant mothers travel at all the weeks before giving birth. Arriving in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph found a place to stay–the animal stalls. Baby Jesus was born into the world and greeted by his parents–and a stable full of animals. The first to greet him? Likely the dust mites that would have been biting at his skin in the manager. In other words, I don’t think it was too silent. Holy–for sure–but far from silent.
And that’s the good news, isn’t it. I mean, the Good News is that Jesus came into this world to redeem us and it through his obedient suffering and death on the cross and His victory over the grave. But, the good news is that this savior doesn’t come to us only when there is peace and quiet. It isn’t the silence that makes Jesus’ birth a holy and righteous event. It isn’t the silence that redeems and restores us. In fact, there is great hope that Jesus works when things are anything but silent. There is incredible power in remembering and knowing that Jesus works in the midst of the chaos. Jesus’ coming is not dependent upon us getting everything right. His arrival doesn’t need everything ordered just so. The chaos around us–and the chaos within us–is the reason for His coming. It, therefore, can not be the repellent of the peace He brings.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.Jesus ~ John 16:33
The Prince of Peace is the one who comes into the midst of chaos to bring a world altering (world altaring?) peace. Shalom is the Hebrew word for Peace. Its meaning is far deeper than an absence of conflict. Shalom is all about a fullness and completeness. It bears a sense of hitting life on all cylinders with God. It is about sensing that you are where God has called you to be and that the presence of the Holy Spirit is with you and guiding you–even in the midst of the chaos of life. The shalom of God doesn’t mean that everything is going right. In fact, from the outside it can easily look like everything is going wrong. And yet, shalom is a gift given by God and a confidence in God’s sovereignty and providence despite our current reality.
This Christmas season, I hope you can find moments away from the chaos. I hope that you find time to breathe and soak in the holiness and sacredness of this season. I hope you can steal away some time of quiet–maybe even silence. But, more than this, I pray that when the chaos sticks to you like velcro you can can peal it back just enough to see the Prince of Shalom working. Even when you can’t feel him or see him. For this is the dawn of redeeming grace. Merry Christmas