I suppose you can grow fond of a tradition, but my hunch is that there’s more to the story… In fact, it is the story. The story and truth that changed heaven and earth. I listened faintly as a child, even felt like I endured the story and tradition associated with it sometimes, but it’s different now.
I remember sitting on the back of the long flatbed of the pickup surrounded by stacked up bales of hay. There were people all around. Some were standing, some sitting, some kneeling, but I was sitting next to my big brother who was probably all of twelve, at the very rear, legs dangling dangerously off the back of the truck.
We were swinging our legs wildly and comfortably as the truck pulled us slowly through the chilly December air. This wasn’t a volunteer activity for my brother or me, but we made the most of it. We mostly laughed quietly, elbowing each other gently in the ribs to indicate the signal for laughter.
The other people were more serious. They sang earnestly as we drove through the night. Even though we were embarrassed, sometimes we’d join in and sing a little when the songs we knew well would be repeated. As crazy as it seems, every time our fellow Christmas carolers would break into Silent Night, it turned into a, well, silent night. Even my brother and I would become more reverent.
The world seems to stand still when that song is sung. The words describing the story act in some supernatural way to bring about reverence… even to the irreverent.
Our pastor shared with us how he’d listened to a story of a country singer named Travis Tritt, recalling his early days playing honky tonks and violent bars where rednecks and bikers would frequent. When the inevitable bar room brawl would break out, Tritt would lead his band in the old Christmas favorite, Silent Night. It never failed to bring immediate peace to some of the rowdiest and irreverent folks this society knows.
I sat in the dim lit den watching the end of a pretty ridiculous Christmas movie while my wife lay sleeping next to me. Immediately when Silent Night began playing with the rolling credits, a side of me rarely seen appeared in the edges of my eyes.
I sat in silent reverence of the story of love. The story of sacrifice. The story of death. The story of redemption… and the story of life everlasting provided by God through our Savior, Jesus Christ. I pray that all the ones we’re praying for this season might one day…
“Sleep in heavenly peace…”