Calm & Bright. 200 Years of Silent Night
As I pondered how we would gather in worship during the coming Advent and Christmas season, I was drawn to a series from Marcia McFee which is based in scripture and the beloved hymn “Silent Night, Holy Night.” I’ll share with you some of her words.
The classic hymn, “Silent Night,” first made its debut on Christmas Eve, 1818 at the St. Nicholas chapel in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. The melody by composer Franz Gruber is instantly recognizable from the first few notes, and the original text by Joseph Mohr has been translated from the original German into over 140 languages. In 1914, just four years shy of the 100th anniversary of “Silent Night” [some] soldiers fighting in World War I along the Western Front held a ceasefire…out of mutual respect for the holiday. Members from the opposing sides…sang Christmas carols together, including the beloved hymn “Silent Night.” Today, churches all over the world gather together each year on Christmas Eve to light candles, sing “Silent Night,” and participate in a timeless tradition.
At the time of this writing in 2018, our communities, our churches, and our world are torn and divided about many issues…Families fight, politicians argue, ignorance and hate are widespread on the Internet, and sometimes we feel that hope, peace, love, and light are missing from our lives. Perhaps this Christmas could be a time of ceasefire from our own sources of conflict. Perhaps this year, we will raise our voices in song to celebrate the birth of Christ with a spirit of peace and love that transcends all barriers…perhaps the silence will help us to listen, hearing the voices of others more clearly and drawing us to hear Jesus’ cry in them.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.” I pray that in worship and prayer, God will help you in this Advent and Christmas to claim Christ’s promise. Let’s make this a season of “calm and bright” so that we may become agents of Christ’s peace, joy, love and light.