For my Advent series this year, I am going through Christmas Carols and unpacking them, re-writing them in prose, hoping to pull out more of their meaning, theology, significance, and beauty. Here’s today’s source material.
As holy as that night was–as anointed, blessed, prophesied, and sacred as it was–it was just as silent. You know in winter when find yourself in the midst of falling snow, and it almost has a loud silence? It was like that.
Who knew that this utter holiness and cosmic in-breaking would be so quiet? So…uneventful? Yes, there were angels and such, but they were far away with us. There at the manger? Silence.
But don’t think that this meant the moment wasn’t intense–that the truth of this moment did not make itself readily known. Everything was at peace, and yet everything seemed to shine with an otherworldly glow, emanating from the center of attention: Mary and the blessed child in her arms, rocking silently and quietly.
There he was, the Son of Man and Son of God, dressed in tender skin, wrapped in tender cloth, held in tender arms. At peace. Sleeping with the joyous peace of heaven. Who knew that heaven’s peace was so silent?
And then we arrived. Still shaking from what our eyes had seen and hearts had heard, we came trembling to the baby. Even as we approached, our minds were still reeling with the sights we had seen, with the heavens streaming and pouring forth the glories hidden since eternity past. Glory to God in the Highest!, they sang. And oh the glory when God in the Highest becomes God in the Lowest. The quiet, silent, Alleluia birthed itself in our souls. Because the Anointed One, our Savior, is born.
Again, that light. That glow. This child. Oh, it was all too much! This was the Son of God, the very radiance and light of Heaven, here in front of us! I sat staring at his face for what seemed eternities, my eyes straining to adjust to his face as if emerging from utter darkness into brilliance. Why did my eyes hurt like that? His face was dawn to my soul, and I felt what had always alluded me: Grace. Grace as from the King of Heaven.
I didn’t expect grace to be like this. It was as light breaking forth. I could feel it and by it see all things, but it itself could not be held, or seen, or known. This light bathed me, healed my darkness. The light that poured from the angels was shadow compared to this. Heaven sent light into the arms before me and into my heart. I had the image of heaven as a giant bowl of grace that had been filling for eternities, only to overflow and be tipped over into this world.
This child was that overflowing grace into this world. The Dawn cresting the darkened hills. Salvation. For us all.
And yet, still: silence.
He just slept, and with him so did the world. But not in the sleep of ignorance and exhaustion, but in the slumber of peace and trust. God had sent his Son to us; a Son from whom all blessings would flow, and in Whom we would find ourselves. He will embrace us, just as he is being embraced now. I felt those arms begin to slide around my soul’s newborn form.
He knows me. I thought. This baby knows me. He knows my station and my slavery. He knows our plight and has come to speak his Yes to us. This Yes that had been decreed by the God of Heaven, that we would be free, and at peace, in Him.
This, here before us, was God’s answer, his promised declaration in the midst of the cacophony and chaos and din of our lives.
And it came in silence.