Summary: Christmas was both a night of silence and a night of song. If you read through the Christmas hymns in a hymnal you will see these two themes stand out often, some with a focus on the silence and others with a focus on the song.
Paradox is simply the recognition that opposites can both be true. The Christmas story is
loaded with paradoxes. The most profound revolving around the Christ-Child Himself: The
eternal Son born into time and the Infinite Spirit embodied in finite flesh. The creator of all
space having no room in the inn; the invisible made visible; the perfect made incomplete and
the limitless made limited.
The list goes on and on even to the most minor details like the paradox of that first
Christmas being both a night of silence and a night of song. If you read through the
Christmas hymns in a hymnal you will see these two themes stand out often, some with a
focus on the silence and others with a focus on the song. For example, O Little Town Of
Bethlehem, specializes in silence. "O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dream-less sleep the silent stars go by." The third stanza goes, "How
silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts the
blessings of His heaven." Then there is, of course, the most famous of all, "Silent night, holy
night, all is calm all is bright. Round yon virgin mother and child, holy infant so tender and
mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace."
The other focus which is on sound, shatters the silence of that holy night with loud songs of
jubilant joy. You have for example, Joy To The World, where the heavens and nature sing.
You have, Angels We Have Heard On High, sweetly singing o'er the plains and Hark, The
Hearld Angels Sing, and in Come All Ye Faithful, the second stanza, "Sing, choirs of angels,
sing in exaltation, o sing all ye citizens of heaven above."
This duel focus on both the silence and the sounds of Christmas should clue us in to the
duel nature of Christmas. It is a day and a season for both contemplation and celebration.
It is a time for both reflecting and rejoicing. It is, in other words, a season that is meant to
have an impact on both our minds and out emotions; Our thinking and our feeling. Let's
focus first on-
This simply means to meditate, think about, study spiritual things. This was the focus of
Mary on that first Christmas. In the midst of high emotions with the angels and the
shepherds making a lot of noise about the birth of Jesus, verse 19 tells us, "but Mary
treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." She represents the quiet and
thoughtful side of Christmas.
Mary was not in on the anthem of the angels. She did not hear all heaven ring as the
angels sing. The focus of Mary was on the baby in her arms and all the implications of being
a mother to the Messiah. If the challenge of parenting makes you worrisome at times,
imagine how Mary must have felt. The wheels in her mind were turning rapidly as she
wondered, what now? How do I enter into what God is doing in the greatest event of all
history-the Incarnation? This calls for contemplation and not just celebration.
It takes some profound thinking on the part of all us to make the coming of God into
history relevant to our purpose for living. Much of the meaning of Christmas is wrapped up
in the way God came into this world. An unknown author wrote,
"Christ could have come riding on a rainbow,
the winds driving His chariot, the Milky Way
serving Him as a heavenly boulevard, while the
glittering stars like so many jewels clustered around
Him. He could have advanced upon this world with
great pageantry, accompanied by innumerable
bands of trumpeting angels, with bright, shining
cherubim His attendants, so that every eye would
have seen His true glory.
"But instead he choose to arrive on this planet
almost unobserved. Silently, wrapped in the swaddling
clothes of humility, He willingly shared the
poverty of a humble family, content to be cradled
in the foul-smelling stable of a little obscure town
called Bethlehem! He stooped so low that He might
reach us in our depravity, lift us out of the mire of
sin, and set our feet on the heavenly pathway. What
condescension, bringing us redemption!
The song writer says, 'Out of the ivory palaces, into a world of woe, only His great eternal
love made my Savior go.'
Paul in Phil. 2 says this is to be the Christian attitude in life. We are to contemplate on the
condescension of Christ and do likewise by forsaking selfishness and striving to focus on the
needs and interests of others. We are to be little Christs trying to demonstrate anew to the