December 7, 2011
Sitting in front of the Christmas tree in the dark is one of the simplest and best gifts of the holiday season to me. The house is quiet and still and the lights seem brighter as the ornaments pick up the sparkle. Unfortunately, quiet and still aren’t usually the words I associate with Christmas. It’s my own fault but frankly it is one the busiest time of the year for me. It is full of wonderful things that I love to do, like baking and shopping for just the right gift, but somehow in the middle of all the “wonderful,” I just plain lose the wonder. Amid the hustle and bustle that is Christmas these days, the child in the manger is often lost in the shuffle or even trampled in the clamoring of shopping. Santa Clauses on the street selling cars or advertising this week’s special, spur us on toward stuff and away from the sacred. But not tonight. Silent night is playing in my head as I sit quietly. This beautiful and simple hymn gently beckons me to stillness as I peer into the manger. No rushing here, no clamoring, just a holy infant, so tender and mild, ushering in the opportunity for the world, and me, to sleep in heavenly peace. And isn’t that what we need tonight? Far from sleeping in heavenly peace, many are in the clutches of sleepless nights over lost jobs, lost houses, lost 401ks, and lost Christmas dreams. Such difficult times do not promote sleep or peace, but both can still be found for those who seek. Maybe not in the kind of gifts that come wrapped in shiny paper, this divine gift comes to us wrapped only in the swaddling rags of humanity—as a gift that can bring heavenly peace to earthly hearts. Far from the mall and closer to the manger, the real hope of Christmas is rekindled in my cold, consumer-driven, perfectionist heart. I unplug the tree and invite the holy child to lay down his sweet head in the straw of my heart and head to bed with heavenly peace.