Ah, Christmastime! The carols speak of this time of year as a season full of hustle and bustle, with both flurries of snow and flurries of activity. Shoppers rush around to buy those last minute gifts for their families, people make plans to travel home, families drive around to look at lights, and even the grumpiest of people don Christmas sweaters to celebrate. Oh, and don’t forget the parties! Between office parties, Sunday school socials, Christmas cookie exchanges, and other social gatherings, it seems like we are always doing something during the Holidays. This year, with the advent of stay at home orders and the threat of imminent death on the horizon, one would assume all of our activities would cease, and some of them have. It amazes me, however, that even in a pandemic, we still find ways to keep ourselves busy; that hustle and bustle is not something we do, it is a state of being we live in during Christmas. I have found that in search of normalcy, and with the desire to make this Christmas extra special to make up for the heartaches of the past year, we have continued to cultivate a mindset of busyness even when we cannot leave our homes.
I was talking to a friend of mine a few weeks ago, and as she described to me all of the things she was doing for Christmas this year from the confines of her own home, I began to feel exhausted on her behalf.
“That sounds so fun,” I told her, “but I do not know how you keep up with it. Don’t you ever get tired of doing all that?”
“I do,” she said, “But I like to stay busy, because if I don’t the house gets quiet and I have to be alone with my thoughts. And honestly, that is the last thing I want to do…”
When I heard this, my heart broke for her and so many like her who fill their lives with activity so that they don’t have to face the silence and the internal storms that come with it. I wonder how many of us do this every year. Do we fill our Christmas with noise because we are trying to mask the sadness of an empty space at the table, or avoid the anxiety that speaks doubts into our minds every night? Do we think that we can only experience the fullness of God in this season if our calendars are full? Whatever the reason is, we all too often neglect to allow moments of silence during Christmas, and in doing so we miss one of the greatest opportunities that the Christmas season offers us: a chance to worship.
One of my favorite moments in the Christmas story is one that is not discussed as often, but is nevertheless profound. In Luke 2:19, it says “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” This one verse, crammed in between the noisy visit of the shepherds and the luxurious entrance of the wise men speaks to me every year because it shows what Mary did with the silence. She stopped. She took all the moments she had treasured in her heart, and she took the time to ponder them. What does this mean? To ponder something means to weigh the matter in one’s heart quietly, soberly, and deeply. So as Mary sat there by the manger, no doubt exhausted by the long journey, the arduous birth, and the unexpected visitors, she embraced the moment of silence and reflected on all she had seen and heard.
While I am not trying to advocate for abandoning all holiday tradition and becoming a monk or nun, I do think we can take a note from Mary and make space in our schedule this Christmas, even if it is only one evening, to ponder and reflect on the precious gifts the Lord has given us.
So, this Christmas I will leave you with the lyrics to the song “One Quiet Night”. My prayer for you this year is that you would truly be able to experience one quiet night to sit with your savior and worship Him!
“This Christmastime I wish for you an early morning snow, and lots of hugs, and kisses underneath the mistletoe. I hope you get to see a little girl or boy open up their presents, to find a favorite toy. I wish you evenings filled with laughter when friends and neighbors call. I wish you lots of cards and candies. But most of all,
I wish you one quiet night, when no one else is home. One quiet night, with time to be alone; to read the story once again, and bow before the infant king in a tender moment of worship and delight. Oh, I wish for you one quiet night.
May your home be dressed up in the scent of evergreen as gently you set out the family’s treasured manger scene, while singing favorite carols with a yuletide choir or with friends and family gathered round the fire. I wish you silver bells and stockings to help you deck the halls, and candlelight, and cherished moments. But most of all,
I wish you one quiet night, when no one else is home. One quiet night, with time to be alone; to read the story once again, and bow before the infant king in a tender moment of worship and delight. Oh, I wish for you one quiet night.“One Quiet Night” by Brentwood Benson