Summary: Silent Night - fact or fiction. Jesus Christ fact or fiction
RG Christmas Eve
Fact or Fiction
Come with me - if you will - to a cold Christmas Eve morning in 1818 to the small Austrian mountain village of Oberndorf.
As you look across the mountain tops, you will see a lonely figure trudging down the road.
It is the local vicar Father Joseph Mohr (1792-1848), on his way to visit his friend Franz Gruber (1787-1863) - who lived in the neighbouring town of Arnsdorf.
Mohr brought with him a poem he had written some two years earlier.
He desperately needed a carol that evening for the midnight mass that was now only a few hours away.
He hoped his friend, Gruber, who was the church’s choirmaster and organist - could set his poem to music.
Gruber looked at it and said “yes” he could something with it
And so that afternoon he composed a melody for Mohr’s poem.
However they couldn’t play the carol on the local parish organ because recent flooding of the nearby Salzach River had put it out of action.
So Gruber composed the music of Mohr’s poem for playing on a guitar.
A few hours after Gruber finished his composition, he and Mohr performed the new song in St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf.
And that evening, the world heard for the first time a new carol “ - Silent Night”
Is it a true story or is it false.
Well actually it is a mixture
It is fact that Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber did write the famous carol “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve in 1818.
Yes it was written to be played on guitar
And it was performed on Christmas Eve 1818 in St Nichaols’ Church in Oberndorf.
Sadly, the story of the broken church organ appears to be fiction.
Like the story of “Silent Night”, the story of the first Christmas in many people’s mind is a mixture of fact and fiction.
The fact is that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus.
Jesus was the first Christmas present ever - God’s Christmas present to the world.
The fiction about Christmas is that the Christmas story is a nice romantic story – a bit like “Little House on the Prairie”.
And it is fiction that it is irrelevant to the sophistication of the 21st Century.
What do we know about Jesus?
On paper his CV wasn’t very encouraging
i) He was born the son of an unmarried mother - he had the stigma of being a bastard
ii) He never got married nor had a family
iii) He never held high political office
iii) He wasn’t a great military commander
iv) He didn’t make it in the religious establishment. He wasn’t a vicar of a bishop
v) He only ministered three and a half years and then he was executed as a common criminal
And when he died, his followers ran away
So what was so special about this baby
After all, on the same day, there were thousands of babies born throughout the Roman Empire
So why focus on this one?
And how did his followers turn the known world upside down within 300 years
This Christmas may I encourage you to ask why Jesus has had such an effect on our society?
1. Has it anything to do with his teaching?
2. Has it anything to do with the outrageous claim that Christians make - that Jesus died and rose again from the dead? Or is it that outrageous?
3. Has it anything to do with his mission on earth, which was to bring people everywhere back into a relationship with God – a relationship, which had been broken by our wrongdoing or sin?
I’d like to leave you with a thought.
Whatever the reason - can we really afford to ignore him this Christmas?