They don’t go together well, do they? If I’m being honest with myself, I can’t characterize our American Christmas with words like stillness, peace or tranquility. The fact is, it’s a frenetically busy time with overwhelming social obligations. It gets so crazy that many things we would like to accomplish in December get pushed back into January. Stillness? Not a chance. Peace? Find me some! Tranquility? Forget about it! You can sing about a Silent Night all you want, but around here, all I hear are those Jingle Bells! Sigh…
In October, one of our GodSpeak readings was Psalm 46. I particularly love this psalm for the closing sentence, “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s such a famous biblical turn of phrase. You often see that passage printed on Christian trinkets picturing snow covered valleys or peaceful meadows. It gives us such a tranquil feeling to “be still.” Before we get too comfortable, let’s take an honest look at where this stillness is actually happening. In this psalm, trouble and fear are everywhere. The earth is giving way, the mountains are moving, trembling and swelling. Nations are raging and kingdoms are shaken. The earth melts. Now… be still.
Good thing Christmas isn’t as earth shattering as the psalm! However, it does pose a challenging question. In the midst of the Christmas craziness, where is your stillness? Where is your peace? Where is your tranquility? There was little stillness on the first Christmas. Bethlehem was a village overrun with people because of the census. The stable was only as peaceful as the animals would allow. Last I checked, delivering a baby isn’t exactly tranquility. The stillness of the night was broken by angels who gave a great shout and then shepherds crowding into the stable! In the midst of all the ruckus, the Prince of Peace was born.
Be Still this Christmas
You’re not going to avoid the Christmas craziness, no matter how hard you try. The beauty of God’s truth in Psalm 46 is that we are called to be still in the midst of the craziness. How do we do this? He tells us. Be still… and know that I am God. This Christmas, allow the reality of God’s birth to live deep within you. You are a forgiven child of God through the death and resurrection of that baby Jesus! He is God and you are his. You are his while secular America gets its annual economic bump. You are his whether or not you fulfill all your social obligations. You are his as January fills up with December’s to-do list. You belong to God. Take a deep breath. Now… be still.