The Night I Saw the Thief Run: Reflections on "Silent Night"

Christmas, encouragement, Jesus, peace, Pentatonix, Silent Night, theft

The radio doesn’t work in my truck. On most days I find it good discipline to drive in silence–think, or pray. But one evening I really wanted to listen to Christmas music, so I brought along our i-pad and turned on my (overly used) Christmas playlist. This year I have discovered the Christmas album by Pentatonix, and it is phenomenal.
During my drive home, I was listening to their version of “Silent Night,” and I passed a roadside restaurant known for its fabulous chicken-on-a-stick (it’s also known for MSG, so I have to limit my visits). It was one of those slow motion moments: a teenage boy darted down the road, pumping his arms and holding a huge bag of food, while another teenage boy chased him. An old woman yelled. The first boy dropped the bag of food. And my heart dropped a little.
Silent Night. Humph, seems like a bunch of chaos all around. Who needs the news to tell us this world is crazy? We know. 
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Was Bethlehem really quiet that night Jesus was born? I doubt it. There was a census taking place and Roman/Jewish conflict. Oh, how the conflicts have continued–down the street and across the globe. But this we also know: even though this world is clamoring all around us, HE IS the calm, and HE IS bright. He calmed the storm for the disciples and He calms the storms in our souls. And He is the Light of the World who brightens all things, and helps us to understand what is going on around us. 

We grope for answers, when we forget to grope for Him.
Maybe your house is noisy. Maybe your heart is noisy. Maybe the idea of a silent night seems impossible. But it’s not about volume, or pitch, or frequency. It’s about peace. And HE IS the Prince of Peace. 
Surrender your heart to Him, and while the world around you will continue to make quite a racket, you will experience His holiness, and you will experience a silent night in the truest form: a night where your worries rest in Him.
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
“For He Himself is our peace…” Ephesians 2:14a
Credit: “Silent Night” by Joseph Mohr
Image: Google images/Free clip art/clipartpanda.com

The Wonder and Antics of Advent

Advent, children, Christian, Christmas, encouragement, eternal perspective, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jesus

It is that beautiful waiting–that stomach-fluttering sensation with eyes wide open in bed. Christmas is coming. The house feels stuck in time with a soft glow as Mama and Dad shuffle around downstairs. I can hear Mama say, “Jon, where’s that other roll of tape?” Christmas is tomorrow. Breathing deeply I can still smell the candle-blown-out smell from my Christmas Eve candle I got to carry to bed all by myself.  
About once a week leading up to Christmas, our family would do Advent devotionals. Sometimes we missed a week, and sometimes we forgot and only did it Christmas Eve, but it was always so special and so important. There was the gold wreath, holding four candles and one in the middle– one for each of us to light. Dad would read scripture verses about Jesus in Isaiah and Luke, and one of my brothers would attempt to blow out the candles with puffs of breath, pretending to hide his antics from Dad. We snickered and shifted, trying to find a comfy position on the floor.  There was a warmth and anticipation that enveloped us in our flannel pajamas and slippers we had outgrown years ago. My family has this thing with traditions.
Those advent devotionals taught me about living in remembrance of the Gospel and never forgetting the holiness and specialness of our Lord, our continual inadequacy, and His continual love. Now I realize that those nights were a picture of our lives.  Even though we can sit still better than when we were young, we never truly grow out of our antics. We recognize the glory of God, but still seem to fidget with the cares of this world, both the things we love and the things we fear. 
In Christ’s holiness and in the expectancy of His second coming, we are less than we should be. We wiggle and squirm, our mannerisms often irreverent. But He came all the same. He came to glorify the Father and save us. So recognize the beauty of this moment and take a few to remember and wait, remember how He came and wait with joy for His return. Maybe you’re worried that you did not get so-and-so a good present, or maybe you can’t find the other roll of tape. It’s okay. Light a few candles for Advent, read some scriptures, and let the flame remind you of the Light of the World who came to rescue you and will descend again. Christmas is coming.

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
P.S. Interested in trying an Advent devotional (in addition to scripture reading)? It’s not too late! Here are a few ideas:
Image Credit: Google Images/mattressessale.eu

A Year of Christmas: Whoops, I Broke the Rule

Christmas, Christmas music, family, Jesus, traditions

As we approach the fall season, which is followed by the holidays, I feel that I must share a dark secret, a very dark secret, indeed. I have broken a cardinal rule. This entire year I have been listening to Christmas music. Bless my husband’s heart, it has not even been a wide, Pandora Station variety. Nope, just the fairly small playlist on our iPad. Over and over again, folks. 
As a little girl, my favorite day of the year was the day after Thanksgiving. Waking early, I would run to the living room and turn on our giant, this-is-so-the-nineties stereo and play Christmas music from our favorite CDs and cassette tapes. It was a most glorious moment. Waiting made it special. Waiting makes a lot of things special.
Yet, during this year of transition and missing my family, listening to comforting music about the triumph of Jesus and reminders of “the most wonderful time of the year” was just what I needed. It especially has been my companion for waking and baking.
Although I have tried to play it mostly when Eric is gone, sometimes he has turned it on for me–even the ancient Amy Grant album. Now, that is love. *Insert swoon here*
(It’s legendary, I promise.)
There are moments I wonder if I will regret playing the music with such frequency–will I treasure it less this coming holiday season? And I may or may not have watched White Christmas several times. After my mother reads this, there is a good chance I will be disowned. Your condolences are appreciated.
Not only have I broken the family rule, but I have also broken my own rule. When stores play Christmas music the first of November, it screams of commercialism: “Let’s play Christmas music as early as possible to sucker them all into buying more!” Cue the steam coming out of my ears. And yet, that’s not what Christmas music means to me.
Every day is for celebrating the birth of Jesus, and the rebirth He has given us. I come from charismatic roots, and those roots involved much joyful singing (and loud singing).Why don’t we sing “O Holy Night” or “Joy to the World” throughout the year? Well, perhaps it is because we are creatures of habit, or perhaps it is because throughout the millenniums, God’s people have celebrated certain acts of God at certain times. He is a God of order. The ebb and flow create a rhythm of our culture as people who love Him. And I like that. 
But this year, Christmas music served as a daily reminder: a reminder of His faithfulness, His hope, and His JOY. 
Merry Not-Yet-Christmas, everyone!
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
Photo 1: Google (free) Images/www.cafeselavy.com
Photo 2: Google (free) Images/ex.wikipedia.org