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Silent night

Monday, December 24, 2007

Luke 1:67-79
"Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hand of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life ...
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace."

These most beautiful words come as Zechariah's spirit, mind and larynx are released on the day of his son John's birth. "In the tender compassion of our God, ..." which he himself had experienced over and over during months of silence, months of reflection, months of listening.

How do I find time for this? If I can't find time at Christmas, then when? Pastor Malcolm Nygren wrote yesterday in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, "We sang the carols and sent the cards and shared the gifts and the meals were wonderful. The family was together and the visitors have now gone home." And then he shared what most of us have thought again and again: "With all the things that we had to do we may have failed to do the most important thing. We were too busy doing Christmas to enjoy it."

Zechariah had no choice; in spite of himself he was bound for glory. The silence he lived with became his sanctuary, and therein he discovered not only God's power, but also his peace. Isn't that what I want, too?

Pastor Nygren again: "We sang of Peace on Earth, but we didn't have time to be peaceful. We heard the Psalmist tell us to be still and know that God is God, but we were never still. We got everything done on time, but all the time was filled."

I'm tired of just talking about leaving room for stillness and silence. I have lived an adrenalized lifestyle for decades, and maybe it's time to change that. God is persistent and faithful, but He is also quiet. Like no other He will draw me into the peace that transcends understanding, and in that place I will rejoice.

Your voice, Lord, is the only voice that matters. Your presence is all that matters in this world.

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