Posted tagged ‘Silent night’

Simple Gifts That Run Deep

December 23, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            December 23, 2015

                                        

Each Christmas for the past…I don’t know…fifteen years Carol and I have said that we aren’t going to buy Christmas gifts for one another…and we do! Each Christmas I search for something special that I think she would enjoy. She has a bit of her mom in her; her mom who would give gift suggestions to her children such as a new spatula…or a used paperback mystery from the public library cast-off pile.

Each Christmas I try to be sneaky and hide a few present that I’ve purchased for Carol. Unfortunately, my memory of where I hid them is not spot on. I’m still missing something I bought for her three Christmases ago. It’s hiding someplace in the house. I don’t even remember what it was I got for her, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t edible.

Each Christmas our trash cans get filled with wrapping paper and packaging contents. Grandkids commence to dancing with toy boxes, while our grown-up children discover twenty dollar bills in wrapped empty boxes of Triscuits and Cheerios.

But the gifts that mean the most at Christmas never come with a price tag. The best gifts aren’t secured during an early morning dash on Black Friday with a crowd of crazed consumers. The gifts that run deep within us are those moments when a hug is shared, a story is told, and a family prayer is said.

For me the simple gifts that run deep will include the discovery of Christmas by our nine-month old granddaughter. As her older brother and sister jump around in hyper-giddiness she will watch and begin to get a sense that Christmas is a special time.

A simple gift for me will be to see a young family with a two-week old daughter, plus her older brother and sister, light the advent candle during the Christmas Eve service. A little while later, after carols have been sung and scriptures read, a simple gift will be the singing by candlelight of “Silent Night” by the gathered worshipers. It is a few moments of calm and peace that hush the chatter in my soul.

A simple gift will be the voice of my 87 year old father that I will ring up on Christmas Day. It gently nudges the sadness within me that comes from being several states away. I will be blessed by his chuckles as he shares the recent stories of happenings in his senior living complex. Any relationship is a simple gift. A visit with my dad is like a drink of the deep water from my Papaw Helton’s well- renewing and quenching.

Finally, the last simple gift of Christmas Day will be when I lay my head down on the pillow that night and know…because I know…that I have been blessed.

Christmas Music

December 5, 2014

Christmas, more than any other season of the year, is defined by its music. As I write this I have my earbuds in listening to The Piano Guys playing “Angels We Have Heard On High.” It gets my fingers moving almost gracefully across the keys of my laptop. I feel like I’m almost playing the piano as I type.

Think about it! If you did an Amazon search of Christmas music you would find an incredible listing of possibilities. Lady Antebellum, Kelly Clarkson, Elvis Presley, James Taylor, Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, Blake Shelton, LeAnn Rimes….the list goes on and on and on. Christmas music seems to be “in”, even with those folks that we don’t connect the Christian faith with otherwise.

Growing up in a one TV house we knew that if the Andy Williams’ Christmas Special was on at the same time as “Gunsmoke” or “The Beverly Hillbillies”, as kids we were out of luck. Christmas songs sung by guys named Andy or Perry pre-empted everything else.

Our church always had a Christmas Cantata that brought in a crowd. Even though a couple of the older gentlemen had hard times finding the notes that were being sung, people enjoyed the festiveness and serenity of the occasion.

I’m partial to the song that The Piano Guys are playing, plus “Silent Night”, and “O, Come All Ye Faithful.” If we didn’t sing Christmas carols during Advent there would be a riot in the church. Many of the songs tell the Christmas story. In fact, we assume a number of things about the events of Christmas because of the words of Christmas carols…such as there were three wise men (“We Three Kings”), and Jesus was born at night (“Silent Night”).

But that’s okay! There is mostly truth in the midst of the melodies.

Christmas music prepares us for the reason for the season. It points our hearts and souls towards the divine-human interaction, the event that would change the world.

People who have minimal interest in God have an abundance of interest in Christmas. Someone who doesn’t know Jesus in a personal way can probably still sing the words to “Silent Night” without a song sheet.

There’s just something special about Christmas music. We often talk roughly in our day-to-day living, but it’s near impossible to sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and keep a high level of spite in your attitude.

So sing, my friends! Sing! Exercise those vocal chords and proclaim “Joy To The World! the Lord has come!”

Christmas Silence

December 19, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                December 19, 2012

My guess is that the most popular Christmas carol is “Silent Night”. Traditionally, it is the song that we end our Christmas Eve Candlelight with. The congregation is standing, each person with their candle glowing. A stillness settles over the congregation as the music begins:

Silent night, holy night! All is calm, all is bright!”

Perhaps it is the offer at a change of pace that makes the carol so appealing. Christmas is amplified with noise it seems. I was in Walmart the other day and had several toys talking to me as I passed them in the aisles. Seriously! The sound of a monster truck accelerating made me exit a toy truck and cars aisle quickly. In the next aisle a stuffed puppy started panting at me.

Christmas noise. Christmas echoes echoing echoes. Christmas jazz rock.

And so “Silent Night” seems so soothing and comforting. I don’t want to dramatize it too much, but it seems that the birthplace of Jesus…off to the side…out of the banter and bustling…was more about the lack of noise. Perhaps there was some livestock standing around, but what I mean is that no one thought it important enough to make noise over.

In fact, most of the Christmas story characters had journeys that included silence. For shepherds it  was important to have quiet so their hearing could be attuned to any predators lurking close to their herd of sheep. The silence helped them hear any uneasiness in their flock.

The wise men from the East had spent a long period of time traveling in the quiet of wilderness and through valleys. In the Luke account it mentions that after Elizabeth found out she was pregnant she went into seclusion for five months (Luke 1:24). Obviously her husband, Zechariah, wasn’t making any noise!

Silence in the incarnational event punctuated the point that God was doing something incredible.

I’ll be visiting my parents back in Ohio the week after Christmas. My mom is at that point in her life where silence is the norm. She has trouble verbalizing what she is thinking and so there are long periods of uncomfortable quiet, because I’m expecting that the next words are going to come. It’s a hard adjustment seeing your mom, who always talked to you…and even more than you got to say…suddenly be silent. I, however, will always opt for a silent mom over a noisy supermarket, a quite moment sitting by her bed over screaming consumers at the mall.

They say that silence is golden. If that’s true why don’t more people just keep quiet?

Silent night, holy night!”