Mon., Dec. 24, 2018
Luke 2:6 – While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.
It’s a Christmas tradition that began 200 years ago tonight. By accident. Out of desperation. When a pastor and the choir director had to make lemonade out of lemons. In the 11th hour.
Would you like to know the rest of the story?
It happened in the tiny village of Oberdorf, high in the Australian Alps on the afternoon of Dec. 24, 1818. Joseph Mohr, the local Catholic priest was desperate. The church organ had given out. It was impossible to have it repaired before the evening Christmas Eve service. He wrote a few stanzas about the Christmas season. Miraculously, the church’s organist, Frank Gruber, composed a simple tune to accompany the words. The original score was written for two voices: a tenor and a bass, and two guitars.
During the midnight service, the song, “Silent Night, Holy Night” was heard for the first time. Or in German, “Stille Nacht! Heil’ge Nacht!”
Quickly, the song moved beyond the tiny village … but without attributes to Mohr or Gruber. It wasn’t until the 1850’s, a full 30-years later, that Gruber and Mohr realized their little song was quickly becoming the most beloved piece of Christmas music.
Tonight, millions of church will sing “Silent Night” in worship. Most of them will have this song at the end of the service, with people holding a brightly lit candle in their hands while singing the words.
There are many, many traditions I love about Christmas. The moment I feel like it REALLY is Christmas? Singing “Silent Night.”
Years ago, I bought a guitar. I thought I would quickly be able to pick up the guitar. How naive I was! With just a few lessons under my belt, I chose to make Christmas Eve and “Silent Night” the first time I would play the guitar in worship.
I love ending Christmas Eve worship singing this song to guitar; just like what happened on Christmas Eve in 1818. As we sing the beloved words, I look around the room. I see candles bringing a warm and deeply meaningful glow to the room. My heart swells. A lump develops in my throat. I have a hard time getting the words out. I sit quietly after we finish singing, not wanting this peaceful moment to end. I want to hold this experience in my head and heart just a little longer.
Kids are ready to rush home and see if there was a visitor while they were gone. There is dinner to eat, games to play and time to enjoy being together.
But I want to hold onto “Silent Night, Holy Night,” just a little longer.
I don’t think it was a very silent night for Mary in Bethlehem. The worry of finding a place to lodge and going through childbirth with just the man you have committed your life too seems terrible daunting. Yet, Mary rose above all of this and more. In the end, she found the night to be a very holy as she cradled the Son of God. Even in a sticky stable, Mary knew this baby would change the world.
Do we know this? The baby, whose birthday we celebrate tonight, would change more of history than any other human being? Can make more imprints on our lives than we can imagine?
Because of this, we too, can have silent nights and holy nights.
I pray you are able to attend a worship service tonight and rehear the Christmas story. At minimum, light a candle and sing, “Silent Night, Holy Night.” Hold unto the moment beyond when the words are completed. Write them in your heart and hold onto them tightly throughout the year.
For silent and holy nights, I am grateful.
Holy God – we pray: silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and milk, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace. Amen.
Blessings & Merry Christmas –
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