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From Revd David Sherwood - December 08

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Archived Stories For me, 'Silent Night' is perhaps the most evocative of all the Christmas Carols.  There are others of course, but they are mostly 'busy' carols, echoing the world as it runs helter skelter through the festive season. And those bright and busy carols are the ones that we will have heard a hundred times in shops and in the media in the run up to Christmas Day - along with the Christmas songs that today's children often confuse with carols. I like 'Silent Night' because it grounds us - it brings us back to the truth of what Christmas Day is all about.
Silent night, holy night.
All is calm, all is bright,
Round the Virgin mother and child;
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

What must it have been like to witness that scene first hand? Knowing that this young innocent girl, a virgin, untainted by man, is holding God in her arms. God, who has come to us in complete vulnerability, totally dependent upon Mary and Joseph for all His needs. Born in a dirty stable in a backwater town, God comes amongst us to be with us and to draw us back to himself.

Silent night, holy night.
Shepherds quail at the sight,
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia:
Christ the Saviour is born,
Christ the Saviour is born.

The announcement of his arrival must have been pretty impressive too! Even today when we have the technology to produce spectacular special effects, we would be stunned by the sky filled with God's glory. What must it have been like for those poor shepherds? And that is what we have lost touch with - we don't realise what an awe inspiring night it must have been.

Silent night, holy night.
Son of God, Love's pure light,
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace:
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.

When we see a new baby with its parents we tend to pick up on his or her inherited characteristics, mother's eyes, father's nose etc. But I suspect that those who saw Jesus that night would have seen something completely different. Mary and Joseph were probably forgotten as the shepherds and others saw something quite unique in His face. They didn't just witness an aura of holiness which pervaded that special night but they saw love as well. A love so deep that it is beyond our comprehension, a love so powerful that it caused God to come amongst us and give so completely of Himself that we might be one with Him once more.

The other key words in this carol are 'Silent Night' - because it is in silence that God is best able to engage with us. When we are constantly busy, when our minds are so full of daily life and the extra demands that preparing for Christmas brings - we loose that silence and with it, our connection to God.

I hope that this Advent and Christmas we will all be able to make time for silence, to allow God to engage with us and to hear again the story of a love so strong that God gave everything so that we could be with Him once more. I wish you a holy and peaceful Christmas, surrounded by those that you love and may you know the peace and love of God in Jesus, now and throughout the coming year.

Revd David Sherwood