Be Still and Know

I was asked to write some posts for my church this season, and I want to share a couple of those with you—

Close your eyes for a moment and think “nativity.” What comes to mind? An image from a Sunday school lesson? A cluster of sculptures on a mantle? A scene from a movie?

Regardless of the source, I imagine all your images share one thing—the characters are still. Likely they all stare at a tiny child, not really doing anything but watching, waiting, wondering, taking it all in and being very, very still.

Anyone who’s held a sleeping newborn understands this stillness. What parent hasn’t spent hours just watching a little one? There’s an alertness to it, a wonder, a feeling this moment is the most important moment in time. Nothing outside the tiny face and the precious warm body in one’s arms matters. And the moment is always too short.

Now picture another phrase: “Christmas season.” What do you see now? Parties? Shopping? Food and crowds and day planners filled to the breaking point? Is there any stillness, any quiet, any time just to stare into the face of the newborn with wonder, hope, or awe?

Satan gets it. God wants us to spend time in quiet and stillness: alert, aware, calm. So our lives get filled with noise, and chaos, and lessons, and busyness. We can’t walk down the street without music piped into our ears. Waiting rooms have video screens. Silence and stillness are feared, moments we might hear God’s voice, and it’s no surprise even our holy days can be held hostage to that fear. Ads and events and even Christmas music call from every direction, and we have to fight to find time to be still. Sometimes we forget to fight for it and there is simply no stillness, and January comes and we sigh with relief that we got through the crazy season yet again.

Of course there is silence and stillness to be found during precious times alone during this season, and I hope to find some of those. But a few traditional ones still exist, and those are worth seeking out, as well. I love candlelight Christmas services. I love to hold a candle in a room filled with others holding candles. We sing, and we’re united, and it’s a great feeling. But most of all, we’re still. Try to hold a candle while running or squirming or yelling or thinking of other things. Holding a candle without burning oneself—or setting the pews on fire—takes a stillness, a quietness, an alert calm. The same stillness I imagine God desired when he told his people to be still and know he is God. Be alert, he says. Like a little child with her mother, still one’s soul and watch, wide eyed, as God comes to earth, lives a life, dies, and returns to life before our eyes, all to rescue us. Be still as it unfolds. See the light, and understand its importance, and be careful with it, still and aware. Be silent, and be still, and know.

Originally posted at St. Patrick’s Church Advent Blog.  Check it out for more Advent thoughts and ideas.

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