A Devine Holy Calm

December 23, 2022

One of the moments I look forward to every Christmas is the lighting of candles during the Christmas Eve service. As the church sings “Silent Night,” we light, hold, and raise our candles to celebrate Jesus, the light of the world, entering the world as a baby. There is so much symbolism in the tradition of lighting candles.

Although it is a tradition I love, I sometimes wrestle with the words of “Silent Night.” The song famously begins, “Silent night, holy night! All is calm, all is bright.” But was the night when Jesus was born actually calm and silent? I don’t know if Joseph and Mary would have described it like that! Joseph and Mary had to make a 90-mile journey while Mary was likely 8 months pregnant. The journey likely took anywhere from 6-10 days. Joseph and Mary were staying at a stable after likely exhausting every overnight stay option in the town. There were a lot of uncontrollable circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth that likely felt stressful and chaotic. I would also not use the words calm and silent to describe Mary’s cries and pains from childbirth along with the piercing cries of a newborn baby.

However, in the midst of the chaos, there was a divine holy calm breaking into Earth. In the birth of Jesus, God took on flesh and made his home among humankind. Another name for Jesus is Immanuel, which means God with us. (Matthew 1:24). Jesus’ presence on Earth, even as a newborn infant, brought a divine holy calm. Jesus’ presence brings peace.

Jesus was not just a peace bringer, but also a peace giver. I am reminded of the story where Jesus calms the storm in Mark 4:35-41. As Jesus was sleeping on a boat with friends, a crazy storm began to produce turbulent waves that swamped their boat. The disciples were fishermen who grew up on the waters, and yet they were scared for their lives! The disciples woke Jesus up and questioned if Jesus even cared if they were dying. Jesus stood up and spoke to the wind and waves. “Peace, be still!” The storm and the waves stopped, and there was a great calm. The presence of Jesus brings peace; the voice of Jesus speaks and creates peace.\

Yes, Christmas is typically characterized as merry and bright. The Christmas season also brings uncontrollable circumstances, busyness, stress, worries, and pain. Christmas aside, our lives are often riddled with ever-changing worries, stresses, and fears. We can experience true peace, a divine holy calm, by experiencing Jesus’ presence and listening to Jesus’ voice. Craig Groeschel says that every worry is a fire alarm revealing an area of our life we are not yet trusting God. Perhaps our worries, our pains, our stresses and uncontrollable circumstances are an opportunity for greater surrender and to trust God’s goodness over our lives.

My prayer is that the peace of Christ, his divine holy calm, be with you.

Josh Hurst