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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

December 2009

Not all silent nights are holy nights.

The silence is sometimes broken by things that go bump in the night, or disturbed by the anxious beating of our hearts.  For many of us, silent nights are shrouded with loneliness, when we go to bed alone and wake up alone, all the time in between devoid of the warmth of a human embrace.  At times the silence of nights all too closely resembles the everlasting silence beyond the grave, and If I should die before I wake comes restlessly to mind and then prayerfully to our lips.  On occasions when the night terrors creep into the bedroom, wicked dreams abuse the curtain’d sleep as an afflicted conscience lies uneasily upon a tear-stained pillow.  Meanwhile, out in the streets, dangers lurk in the shadows of the silent nights in our neighborhoods, and hunger attacks the sleepless homeless in the silent nights beneath the bridges of our cities. 

Not all silent nights are holy nights.

Long ago there occurred a silent night that was a holy night. . . in the little town of Bethlehem that lay so still beneath a brilliant star.  And back in a barn in a Bethlehem slum the eternal, invisible God of all creation became human, visible, and embraceable: a Word wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger.  Those who surrounded the luminous manger in that silent night—Mary and Joseph from Nazareth, shepherds from the fields, Magi from the East—beheld in the face of this Child the countenance of God; and it was a holy night.  The transforming realization that God has come to earth—Emmanuel: God with us—dawned upon them, informing them that God is now nearer than breath and dearer than life; and it was a holy night.  Into Bethlehem’s dark streets shineth the everlasting Light.  The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee, O Bethlehem, tonight.  It was a silent night that was also a holy night.

It is this silent night, holy night long ago that makes all other silent nights bearable, even holy: that fills our anxious hearts with courage, that wraps our lonely longings with a divine comfort, that gives us faith in the night and puts our fears of death to flight, that forgives our past and assuages our conscience, that inspires us to face the dangers of our neighborhoods and embrace the homeless of our cities.

During this holy season of Christmas, may all our silent nights be holy nights, in which we feel the Living Presence of the Holy Child of Bethlehem, in which our restless souls find peace in Him, in which we make real the peace of Christ for others. 

                 O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray;

                 Cast out our sin, and enter in, Be born in us today.

                 We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell;

                 O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.

Affectionately yours,

Calvin C. Wilson