Archive for December 13th, 2006

Silent Night?

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Today’s scripture: John 11:33-35 (NRSV) (The Message) or, read the whole story.

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Tom Chittenden):

The little boy in me is always obvious at the mere mention of the word Christmas.

I’ve always loved Christmas. Perhaps this is due in part to my Aunt Mimi, who was an Angel assigned by God to take care of me. She loved Christmas too and since I stayed with her a lot as a boy, we would do Christmas “stuff” all year long — sing carols, wrap presents, read the Nativity Story. We even decorated one of her azalea bushes at my request. She never let me forget that the miracle of Jesus’ birth was something to be celebrated all year long.

And so it only seemed appropriate that I would preach a message about “Christmas In July” while I was serving in youth ministry in Center Point, Alabama, while I was in college. While standing around in the parking lot after worship service one of the sweetest little ladies walked up to me, but I could tell by her expression that she was bothered and that her “guns were loaded.” I braced myself.

“I simply do not agree with your picture of the birth of Jesus, young man!”
“What are you troubled about?” I asked.
“Well,” she said, pausing to search for the right words, “I don’t believe He cried the way you said.”

I gently pressed her to show me something in scripture that would lead her to believe such a thing. After thinking for a while, she blurted, “Well, what about Silent Night, Holy Night?”

That dear sister shows how easy it is to add our traditions into Scripture. We sing, “Away in a Manger” and believe what we sing: “no crying He makes.” I wonder if, way back in our minds, we believe He never soiled a diaper too!

We know from Scripture that Jesus wept as a man. It is naïve to think He did not cry as a baby. Tears are a basic part of what it means to be human. Isn’t it one of the sad signs of our world that the first sign we give to show we’re alive is a cry?

It was to this fallen world that a very real Jesus came, not an imaginary one without tears. For the “Man of Sorrows” it would seem that tears were an even more integral part of His life than ours. He came as much to weep for us as to die for us.

Understanding that Jesus was once a real, crying baby has a way of drawing us closer to His birth, to feel the darkness of that night, to smell the smells of the stable and to hear that fragile newborn voice crying out in the night to His mother, Mary — and in a way, to us as well.

Thought for the day: As I hear once again the birth announcement regarding the Baby of Bethlehem, let the sounds of His crying wake the inner child that has my name — and I once again remember Love has come in the form of a baby, the Lamb of God.

Today, let’s join together in prayer for: Those we know and love who are dealing with depression, whether it’s seasonal or chronic.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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