A Time for Silence

If the truth of the Christmas message never moves us to silence, then I have to wonder if we are missing an important and appropriate response.  To be more bold, I’m convinced that we must find time to ponder the weight of the Incarnation.  If there is a “time to be silent,” then certainly Christmas is one time.

We always pull out our Messiah CD this time of the year.  As I listen to the wonderful music and texts I am struck with those amazing words in the alto solo taken from Isaiah 50.  “He gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: he hid not his face from shame and spitting.”  Whatever we may give this season, our gifts surely pale in comparison to what Jesus gave.  While we give clothes, perfume, books, and music, according to Isaiah, Jesus have his back.  He gave his cheeks.  He gave his face.  His very soul was made an offering for sin.  Consider what God gave.  From manger to cross, the gift of Jesus is encapsulated in humility, rejection, suffering, ridicule, shame, torture.  Ponder to whom this gift was given.  To his enemies.   Meditate on the benefits of this gift: forgiveness, adoption, fellowship, righteousness, an eternal inheritance.

When we attended University Baptist Church, in Clemson, SC, our choir sang the following 4th century Christmas hymn in a cantata.  The hymn calls on all mortal flesh to be silent, and like Mary, to ponder eternal truths in our hearts.  Familiarize yourself with the words and tune of this hymn (right click on the title to open music in a separate window).  I think the truth of the words combined with the appropriate affect of the tune will move you to bow your head and worship Christ, the King of Glory, Who gave Himself to you.  Take some time over Christmas to be silent.

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

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