Truthfully, I find the lyrics of “Silent Night” a bit misleading. All is not calm or bright on this earth. It never has been.
The world in which Jesus entered was characterized by greed, lust for power, sexual deviation, oppression of marginalized people, violence, murder……One need only scan through scripture to recognize the destruction of all that God had created and declared as “good.”
Yet, God chose to enter into it.
Who would choose to intentionally encounter chaos? darkness? death? The moment Jesus was born may have harbored some silent moments but most likely was surrounded by the noises of an imperfect world trying to find its way. Animals communicating their needs in a chorus of incomprehensible words. Friends, midwives, children, moving about and murmuring about the new life which had arrived. The roaring of human voices as they crowded the streets during this required census registration.
And, yes, most likely, yelling, shouting resounding from disagreements, drunken rhetoric, and weeping. Brokenness didn’t disappear because Jesus arrived. Jesus entered in the midst of it. His cry served as fanfare inaugurating the beginning of a new kingdom. One that speaks peace into the loud sounds of longing that characterize the earthly ones.
In reading the history of “Silent Night,” I discovered the lyrics are based on a poem which was inspired by a vision of the author. One night, as he stood upon a hill in his Austrian village, he gazed upon the snow covered scene below. As the lights poked through the darkness, and the town stood relatively still, he was reminded of a poem he had written. It was based on reflections on the moment the shepherds were interrupted by angelic messengers announcing Christ’s birth.
What he witnessed was a taste of Heaven.
Truthfully, the calm which we seek isn’t rooted outside. It’s rooted within. It’s possible when we embrace Jesus and participation in this upside down kingdom which is breaking into the midst of noise, pain, and chaos.
1-2 The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
3-5 Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out. (John 1:1-5)