I know I haven't blogged in a while. Forgive me - it's been quite messy around here lately. I was sick for almost 10 days. I had tonsilitis, laryngitis and a cold all at the same time. My boss's wife passed away last week. My great-uncle passed away too. We were in Indy for two funerals on two consecutive days, and my heart is feeling a little heavy from it all. We also just found out that our good friend had open-heart surgery last week. I'm thinking it's not such a lucky time to be friends with me right now!
Christmas can get so hectic, can't it? All the shopping, baking, parties, programs, blah, blah, blah. Don't get me wrong - I love shopping and baking and parties and programs. They really create a special buzz in the air - a bustle, if you will. The energy and spirit I see at Christmastime is like none other. Still, sometimes I can do without the bustle. Sometimes I just want the peace. The Silent Night.
I have to say that I am really kind of sick of Silent Night. We sing it at every single Christmas Eve service, and year after year I can't help but think, "Let's sing something different this year! What about 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' or 'O Holy Night'?" We always sing "Silent Night," and always lift our candles in the dark sanctuary for the last verse. It has seemed a little cheesy to me for a while, and I'm over it.
Monday afternoon my office hosted a luncheon for retired United Methodist clergy in our area. We do this every year as a way to keep in touch with them, help them keep in touch with each other, and show our thanks for their many years of faithful ministry. It really was a nice event. We had a great turnout, even though the weather was a little nasty, and people seemed to have a nice time. My friend Julie came to entertain the crowd with her beautiful singing. She has a spectacular voice, and she really is a wonderful entertainer. She has this way of drawing you in, and making you feel like she's singing just for you. It's awesome!
After a few songs, she asked if they would like to sing some Christmas carols together, and they all seemed up for it. She asked if there were any requests to start us off. A voice from across the room suggested "Silent Night." I remember thinking, "Ugh. I am SO over this song!" But I decided to be a good sport, and sing along.
I couldn't sing for very long. That crowd could SING! They sang "Silent Night" in four (maybe five) part harmony, with so much passion and reverence, it brought tears to my eyes! Here were over 100 people who had served countless congregations for decades upon decades, who had probably sung this song at every Christmas Eve service they ever preached or attended - and they were singing that song as if they were singing it to Jesus himself.
I felt so convicted right there. If THEY can feel this much reverence for this ordinary, over-played song, what's wrong with me? Isn't that what Christmas is about? Jesus came to bring the "extra" in front of "ordinary," didn't He? This extraordinary savior was born to an ordinary woman. The man who would shepherd us all the way to the gates of an extraordinary Heaven was born in a very ordinary Bethlehem. His extraordinary, redeeming blood was spilled on an ordinary cross, built for ordinary criminals. An extraordinary Lord for very ordinary people - like you and me.
So this year at Christmas, I'm reclaiming Silent Night for myself. In the midst of the ordinary: the malls, the parties, the gifts, the decorations, the commercials, the cha-ching at the registers, the cards, the BUSTLE, I am going to remember that extraordinary baby sitting in the creche under my tree. I will remember that He came to add the "extra" to my "ordinary." And I will sing an ordinary song like "Silent Night" with a lot more reverence. At the end of the day, we all know that Christmas is about so much more than the bustle that permeates our world at this time of year. Behind it all there is a peace to be found...a Silent Night.