On Christmas Eve in 1818 a blizzard stranded the tiny village of Ogledorf nestled in the Austrian mountains. That same day the people of St. Nicholas' church found their organ broken. So the priest and organist began composing a song that could be sung without an organ yet beautiful enough to express their Christmas joy. All day and all night long they worked and at midnight the gentle carol Silent Night was born. The pure clear tones echoed through the hills and the world has been captured by the beauty of that simple song ever since.
It is easy in these last few days before Christmas to make a mad dash toward perfection. To get caught up in a flurry of over-functioning. To let all the worry of whether the now-wrapped present of the tree is really what the person wanted, especially since s/he just hinted about something that would have been awesome...why...o why...did s/he not say that four weeks ago, for all that is good and holy!
The sacred simplicity of this Carol sings a different tune to our hearts. One that reminds us of sacred interruptions...remember Mary and Joseph didn't go to Bethlehem to visit relatives, they were forced. One that reminds us that life is not perfect...remember Jesus was born in a barn. One that reminds us that God's arrival doesn't depend on us, Christmas comes regardless of what you or I do or buy. Perhaps that is why this Carol still sings us to the manger every year. We come, holding a candle, because God's light of love has just been born anew, afresh in our hearts. We come, drenched in light amid darkness of Christmas Eve night, because that moment speaks more than a sermon ever could ~ God is always creating and crafting, dancing between light and darkness.
And we are called to offer a few words that sing of the sacred simplicity; we are called to stand next to the outcast shepherds, because we have our issues too; we are called to be.
Be in God's presence.
Not just four days from now...right now. God with you. That is the grace that guides us every day, the love that leads us if only we let it. That is always the invitation...so let this Carol sing to you one more time, beckoning you to the manger where God arrives in the "regardless-ness" of our imperfect holy lives.
Prayer: Present God...help us focus less on what is under the tree and more on the gift of Your movement in our midst here and now. Amen.