I have a Christmas confession to make. I hope you won’t think less of me. I hope you won’t brand me a Christmas heretic after I tell you, and I hope we can still be friends if you disagree, but… I can’t sing the song “Silent Night.”
I don’t mean it’s out of my range or I just get choked up so much I can’t make it through the song. I just can’t bring myself to sing it.
I know it’s one of those traditions favored by the masses. I know it’s been sung by great people for almost 200 years. I know it makes such a nice scene when we stand in a circle with candles to sing it, and it sounds so pretty when all the little voices stretch to reach the “sleep in heavenly peace” notes, then gently tumble their way down the stairs of those same words to end the verse.
It’s just that, well… I just can’t imagine the birth of Jesus as a nice, pretty event. I have a pretty good imagination, but let’s be real; I’ve seen births happen. Not silent. 9 months earlier, this baby was at God’s right hand, holding together all of the known universe. Then, on that night he made his messy way out of another human being in a small Middle Eastern village that was so crowded his first bed had to be a manger!
Do you know what a manger is? It’s not some first century version of a bed fit for a king. It’s a feed box for barnyard animals! That’s what Jesus slept in to begin His revolutionary sojourn here on planet earth. A feed box!
And I’m not so sure “tender and mild” are the right words for this “holy infant.” Oh, Jesus definitely showed Himself to be most tender toward the hurting and oppressed, but mild? I’m sure he was as cute and cuddly as the next newborn baby, but his entry into this world was a cataclysmic event that marked the beginning of the end for Death (and all his friends). This was no mild addition to humanity. This was WAR! How about “tinder and wild”? This baby lit a fire that’s still being stoked by His Spirit 2000 years later as He breathes through His church!
I’m afraid we tend to sanitize and “pretty up” Jesus’ story too much, and in doing so risk losing sight of the earth-shaking nature of what was actually going on. God became man. GOD became man! The Light of Life humbled Himself to become one of us so that each of us could find our way back to His Father ~ our Father.
I don’t think it was a silent night, but it sure is something to sing about! You can still sing Silent Night if you want to. No one’s going to hold it against you. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking of Jesus as the gerber baby of the first Century. He’s the King who came and will return. He’s the one who conquered death and offers real, lasting, vibrant life.
Now, go make some noise.