“Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright…”
We all know the words. Even if you aren’t a Christian, you can sing the song. For most, it’s the Christmas-card-perfect ideal of what Christmas is and means.
Advent includes the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. It is a time of expectation and anticipation, celebrating the night Jesus was born. For those who believe, it is a sacred time of remembering the life of the man who began a religious movement which has now lasted over 2000 years and forever changed the world.
There are those who believe many of the events which have come from the reverence of this man’s life are not good. Some people say it is a fairy tale, a hoax, a sham. Some say that Christianity has been responsible for many of the worst atrocities ever undertaken against individuals and groups in the name of religion. And some of that is true.
But that is not the Christianity Advent celebrates. Those are not the christian ministries which the life of this baby born so long ago represents for me.
Over 2000 years ago, a young girl gave birth to a boy child in a stable. She was far from home, without the comfort of her mother or the other women of her family. The town was packed with travelers, and she had no privacy or modern conveniences; I doubt very seriously that it was either calm or quiet.
But the symbolism of that birth, of the life of a man who preached radical love and zealous activism against illegitimate authority, rocked the world to the point of creating a political and religious movement which still stands strong today.
In that baby, born in the pain, chaos, and unrest of that night and of his era, we find hope. For the story has no end. Even 33 years later, as he died on a cross of political torture, his vision of loving and serving each other was being born in the hearts of those who had followed him.
And that is the meaning of Advent. We anticipate the coming of the Christ child which we celebrate on Christmas Eve, and we renew our dedication to the vision he established, a vision of building a kingdom of justice and community, right here, and right now.
“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord…” and because I believe, I find joy in Advent, peace in Christmas, grace in the Epiphany, and hope in Easter. And I’m inspired, by the man whose life began in a stable, to fight for radical love and tireless justice until his vision of the kingdom of God is founded among us all on earth.
May the peace and joy of the holiday season inspire you to love like you never have before.