Advent: A Holy Paradox
Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright.
This carol about the night Jesus was born is one I never understood. When I imagine the hustle and bustle of travel-worn people arriving in an overly crowded town, I imagine it was anything but silent. Anything but calm.
I think it was probably a lot like it is today. People are tired, lost in both the mundane and busyness of daily life, looking for meaning, looking for belonging but too exhausted or distracted to see the impending miracle pass by. Jesus was born among the birthing screams of a mother in labor. And as His lungs breathed our air for the first time, He cried. And He would later die among jeers and shouting obscenities.
No, the world is not always bright. And no, it is definitely not silent.
And yet, I long for a silent and peaceful world. I long for a heart that is still and quiet. I imagine Mary in the moments after His birth as His cries were hushed. Did she feel the full weight of God’s uncontainable love contained within her arms? I think that is the paradox of Christmas. Christ didn’t enter this world peacefully and He didn’t leave it peacefully either. And yet, this is what we sing about at Christmas.
That is what we long for…a holy silence to interrupt our noise so that we can hear it speak.
And speak it did. In a language of love and contradictions. For some, Christ’s birth snuck by them as they shut the door in the faces of two strangers. For others, it was announced by angels in a meeting of heaven and earth, in a dusty field outside of town. And then there were the those who discovered it because they searched for it out of faith.
Unsuspecting shepherd, and searching kings. A paradox, a contrast of images, a shift in the paradigm.
This is what Christmas is. It set the stage for how He would save the world. Joy & pain. Faithful & forsaken. Silence & angels. Darkness & light. Loved & hated. Miracles occurring & treks across deserts. Fully man & fully God. Death gives birth to life.
As I ponder these supposed contradictions, I feel the true weight of everything Christ did for me. For you. Because in this paradox is where we find our Savior. It where we find Christmas. A paradox so holy it redeems our broken human experience into one of heaven and hope.
A paradox. A hum of the heart. A symphony of the joyful. It is anything but silent.