The thought that Christmas in most churches would be a muted, quiet affair does not faze me. Straits Times’ journalist Lee Siew Hua wrote an article (click here) that sketched what a pandemic Christmas would look like for churches in Singapore. And nothing is likely to change in terms of the church’s programs for the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday was that Singapore will move into Phase 3 of its Covid-19 management only in 28th December.
In my opinion, it is time we had a Christmas more in keeping with the quiet, inconspicuous Christmas of Bethlehem. More in keeping with the spirit of silence, worship, and wonder of the original occasion of Christ’s birth.
The stage was a manger, not a fancy church stage. The youthful couple were in a panic, not in a party. Their guests were gate-crashing strangers filled with amazement and adoration- some educated, respected, and well-off; and others uneducated, despised and poor. And all they did was worship.
There, before a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, they stood in silence, worship and wonder. All their cares, worries and duties forgotten during that comma when time stood still, and they wished it lasted forever. They simply stood in stillness, silence and surrender.
The Savior has come, let us cease from the hassle and frazzle of past Christmas, and immerse ourselves in the simple peace of pause and pray. The Savior is with us. This Christmas can be very special if we choose not to be afraid of stillness, silence and solitude.
Why not try this: on Christmas eve, hide yourself somewhere, whether in a room, a park, or on a bench in the open air, and be all alone. Relish the fact you are all alone – this is a rare Christmas treat.
Read a passage or two about the birth of our Savior. Read it slowly more than once. Savor the word, phrase or image that draws you into meditation. Allow the memory, emotion or song that rises to consciousness to breathe. Be conscious of the presence of the Savior – and talk with the Lord. Take your time: ramble on and on if you must. Or be silent before Him and let your heart do the talking when it is ready.
Breathe in and soak in the love of our Savior, like in a spiritual spa. The finished work of Christ is made available to us because Jesus came as a helpless, powerless babe in the trust of youthful parents who were all alone and far away from the community support they needed. God became a human, a helpless babe to save us ungrateful, rebellious and sinful humans. What astounding divine love!
I am not afraid of a quiet, muted Christmas. In fact, I look forward to it. Hopefully, we do not try to substitute this muted Christmas with more amusement, and more gluttony, and more noise, and more activity. Hopefully, we will re-connect with the original spirit of Christ’s birth. Hopefully, we will never ever be satisfied again with the “normal” kind of razzle- dazzle Christmas we have gotten used to and are tired of.
What about you? What kind of Christmas are you looking for?