How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heav’n.
No ear can hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
(O Little Town of Bethlehem, 3rd verse, written by Phillips Brooks)
I have fond memories of the midnight Christmas services in the little Anglican church of the Saskatchewan town where I spent my boyhood. We gathered at 11:30, when all commerce and all other travel had ceased, and in the quietness of the midnight remembered the coming of our Saviour into the world. There was anticipation in the air, and people who were never seen in church at any other time of the year, except perhaps Easter Sunday morning, would be present for this service.
Jesus was born in the night, when all around was quiet and still. There was a flurry of activity in the stable as He was born, but no one else was aware of it until some excited shepherds rushed into town telling of a visit from the angels.
It must have also been night when the star guided the Wise Men to the house where Jesus was, probably some months later. It was in the night that an angel told Joseph to take Mary and Jesus and flee, for Herod would seek to kill the young child. Was it the same angel who warned the Wise Men in the night not to return to Herod? Did Joseph confer with the Wise Men before he left that same night? We can wonder about these things, but they are questions for which the Bible has no answer. We only know that Joseph took his family that same night and began the long journey into Egypt. Perhaps in the morning the people of Bethlehem were so intrigued by the presence of the strangers from the east that they did not immediately notice that Joseph and his family were gone.
God still works in the quietness, hidden from public view. There is a beautiful passage in Job 33:14-18, spoken by Elihu, that describes this:
For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
May we all seek a place of quietness at Christmas time and all through the year where we can hear God’s message for us. A blessed and joyous Christmas to all who read this!