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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

No Silence Here

By Barbara Hughes
Dec. 25, 2011

We sing that classic Christmas song with awe and reverence. The scene was holy; it was the birth of God’s Son, after all. But was it really silent?

The town of Bethlehem was so crowded with travelers that Jesus had to be born in a lowly stable. His first crib was a watering trough hurriedly padded with hay. Surely there were people in the streets with raised voices greeting each other boisterously, making rowdy music, and sharing tales of their journeys from far-away places. No silence here!

Small fires crackled where food was being prepared in rustic vessels. Water bubbled, popping as it was heated to clean dirty, stiff hands and filthy, sandaled feet that had made the journey to Bethlehem. No silence here!

How soon after their arrival did Joseph and Mary welcome Jesus into our world? Did Mary’s cries during childbirth fill the stable? No silence here!

Looking around the manger scene, perhaps dirty-white sheep with thick woolen coats hovered together, bleating occasionally as if to question where they were going next. Where is their shepherd? Did small, black, dirt-clogged hooves make pesky clicking noises on the rocks as they waited for direction? Without a shepherd’s leadership, sheep are easily lost. How we rejoice to think the Baby in the manger would become the Shepherd of the world, leading His sheep by the sound of His voice. No silence here!

Did sweet new lambs on wobbly feet find a place near the manger to lie down? They could not know that this Baby would become the perfect Lamb for the sins of the world.

Did free-spirited birds meticulously create a nest for their young, each bringing in a small twig and then hovering on fluttering wings, moving hesitantly around the nest to find just the right place for it? One day, this Jesus would speak of the birds as known and cared for by the Father himself, examples of God’s provision and individual care. No silence here!

Did copper-colored cattle with docile white faces stand like giant nannies, hovering protectively nearby? Perhaps their soft lowing formed a humming lullaby for the precious Baby just arrived. No silence here!

Certainly, there was no silence with the appearance of an angel to distant shepherds piercing the clear, ebony sky. No wonder the tired, smelly shepherds were frightened. They had set night watches for their sheep and were no doubt tired, hungry and perhaps even a little testy.

The shepherds would be accustomed to studying the night skies while keeping watch. They could appreciate the beauty of the stars, but did they know that God had every star counted?

Imagine the moment when the angel thundered, “Fear not!” I don’t believe the shepherds quietly observed the moment. How they must have shouted and cajoled one another as they leapt for joy at the good news.

If that wasn’t enough, then the angelic choir appeared. Is it even possible for angels to only whisper, “Rejoice”? How majestic their heavenly song must have been — composed by God himself, heavenly harmonies, voices of perfect pitch and volume. The message of the music must have changed the shepherds, because they left immediately to find the promised Christ child. Could they know how God would use messages of music to permeate men’s souls and change the direction of their lives? No silence here!

Scripture says that Mary pondered all these things in her heart (Luke 2:19). Here was a young girl who had just given birth to God’s Son — Emmanuel. Mary had silenced herself in surrender to God’s plan. Did she know that you and I would need to find those times of silence — to be still and know that He is God?

Joseph was the type of man who was capable of loving and protecting Mary even when circumstances could make his obedience seem misdirected. He could hear God’s voice in dreams and had the capacity to readily respond. Did he know that God would continue to find unique ways to ask us to respond to His direction?

Was the night holy? My heart responds with a resounding yes. The holy God sent His holy Son through circumstances that had been prophesied from the beginning of time. He kept His Word. That assures my heart that God will always keep His word with me.

Was the night silent? If you equate silence with the absence of noise, probably not. But there is a holy silence as hearts and minds contemplate God’s grand gesture to all humanity in sending the gift of His only Son, Jesus, a precious gift of incomparable value and divinely driven purpose.

Thank You, Lord, that You give our lives value and purpose. May we always be willing to stand silently in Your holy presence and understand who You are and how You wish to use our lives.

BARBARA HUGHES lives in Rollins, Mont.

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