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The Not-So-Silent Night

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, 
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” 
Luke 2:13-14, NLT 

I love the song Silent Night, but the holy evening about which the tune is based was probably far from quiet. Instead, the environment would have been boisterous and brimming with activity—including a plethora of angels praising God.  But before we discuss those divine visitors, let’s start with the most important part of the story. 

Whatever silence may have existed that evening was shattered by the beautiful wail of a newborn babe.  Jesus had entered the world, and his parents would have been eagerly awaiting that first, critical cry that confirmed the arrival of a healthy child. That’s when his mother “wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them” (Luke 2:7b). 

Which leads us to another aspect of that far-from-quiet night: because Jesus’ birth took place in a stable, animals were undoubtedly present, adding their own assortment of sounds to the setting. Perhaps a few critters vocalized their complaints—after all, that baby had just taken up residence in their feeding trough! 

I also can’t imagine Mary and Joseph remained muted during all the happenings that evening. They’d just experienced nine months of extraordinary events.  Visits by angels (Matthew 1 and Luke 1).  Elizabeth’s prophetic pronouncement when Mary arrived: “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.  Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?  When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy” (Luke 1:42b-44). Surely this couple must have exchanged many excited conversations as they held Jesus in their arms. 

Now back to those angels.  Not far from the stable, shepherds worked in nearby fields, watching over their flocks in the still of the night.  Yet their peaceful evening was interrupted in a most remarkable way: 

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,  but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 
Luke 2:9-12 

Shortly after this announcement, other angels appeared—and they had no intention of remaining quiet either.  Here’s how Joseph Mohr, the author of Silent Night, described the scene: 

Silent night, holy night! 
Shepherds quake at the sight. 
Glories stream from heaven afar, 
heav’nly hosts sing, Alleluia! 
Christ, the Savior, is born!  
Christ, the Savior, is born! 

Those startled shepherds didn’t take long to follow the angel’s instructions, adding to the noisy nativity scene.  And afterward, they kept the conversation about the Christ child going.  See how Luke 2:16-18 explains what happened next: 

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.  All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 

That’s right, those typically isolated members of society “told everyone what had happened.”  A tranquil evening was no longer on their agenda; they desperately had to share what they’d just witnessed. Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, had been born! 

Oh, may you and I experience this same kind of raucous Christmas celebration! Like the angels, we can sing loudly and proudly about our Lord and Savior. Let’s spread the good news about Jesus to family, friends, and anyone else who crosses our path this festive season. And may we encourage each other with our Hope of Salvation who arrived that one, not-so-silent night. 

Thought of the Season

He has given me a new song to sing, 
    a hymn of praise to our God. 
Many will see what He has done and be amazed. 
    They will put their trust in the Lord. 
Psalm 40:3