Today’s devotional is by Andrea Grattan

Have you ever stood outside gazing up at the stars on a clear, crisp night, when all around is still and the stars are shining brightly as they light up the midnight blue sky? There is something very peaceful about the stillness and beauty of a silent night.

The words written by Joseph Mohr and the tune composed by Franz Gruber join together to give us one of the most loved and popular Christmas carols – ‘Silent Night’.  As you may know, the carol was heard during World War One, specifically during a Christmas ceasefire in 1914 when German troops started singing ‘Stille Nacht’. 

Can you imagine what that would have meant for the men (on both sides) embedded in their water filled trenches, cold and weary, far away from home and their loved ones at Christmas?  The sounds of war fell silent and were replaced with voices singing, “Silent Night, Holy Night all is calm, all is bright”. For a short time they were no longer enemies but human beings – singing carols, sharing food, exchanging gifts and playing football together.  

The carol itself transports us to Bethlehem many years ago.  A place that many would have regarded as insignificant, but it was here that our Lord Jesus Christ was born. For Joseph and Mary, it had been a long day. They had travelled to Bethlehem to register for the census and Bethlehem was filled to capacity – there really was no room for them!  After going from place to place to find somewhere to bed down for the night, an Innkeeper offers them a place of safety. It certainly was not the most glamourous or luxurious of places but it was somewhere, and it was here the Holy infant was born. The words of the carol depict calmness and tenderness – you can imagine Mary looking down at her baby boy, the birth now over and a baby cradled in her arms sleeping in heavenly peace! 

Our attention is then drawn to the hills of Bethlehem, as the Shepherds go about their usual business of guarding their sheep. Lowly Shepherds, and yet, they were the ones chosen to hear the good news first that night. Out of nowhere, the sky is filled with brightness and “glories stream from heaven afar” and a heavenly chorus of “Alleluia” fills the air - “Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the Saviour is born”. No wonder the carol says, “Shepherds quake at the sight” – it would have been quite a shock and yet wonderful at the same time!

In the third verse we read, “Son of God, love’s pure light”. This reminds us that Jesus really is the gift of love from God Himself. The light of the world come to earth as a baby to shine the love of God into our lives – this was a new dawn and a new beginning. The promise given in the Old Testament, talked about over years and patiently waited for, was now here on earth. 

This was the “dawn of redeeming grace” through Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast“(ESV). God’s plan of redemption for humankind was born that night in the form of a small helpless baby, and yet this special, God-given baby was born to be King.

This Christmas, in the midst of everything that is going on, take the time to look up to the sky on a clear, crisp night and enjoy the stillness and the silence. Think about God’s creation and His wonderful gift to the world of Jesus Christ, and ponder on the words of Psalm 46:10 - “Be still, and know that I am God”.