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Silent Night Unresolved

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Recently Lynna and I were with some friends when one of them, Jane (a real person, but not her real name), a former piano teacher, played her favorite version of Silent Night. The traditional melody was there evoking all the moments of Christmas—Mary and the manger, shepherds and sheep, the star and the wise men—but it was accompanied by the clashing clang of sharps and flats and minor chords that conflicted with the peace of Christmas. When she finished I kept waiting for the final note that would tie it all together and transform the chaos into harmony. But that final note never came. It was Silent Night. Unresolved.

Why is this Sue’s favorite version of Silent Night? Because as the wife of a businessman, mother of adult children, a Young Life leader, mentor of college girls, and a seminary student, it speaks to her of life and all the struggles she sees in herself and those she serves. She hears the harmony of God’s presence conflicting with the clash of life’s stress. Like her favorite version of Silent Night, life is unresolved.

So it was for Jesus on that first Christmas. Many seem to think Jesus was born into peace and security. Hardly. He was born in a stable and laid in a manger where animals. fed. The shepherds were an interruption—what mother wants strangers bursting in on her immediately after she’s given birth? When He was two his parents had to run for his life. And after the danger was past they returned to Nazareth, a Roman army town, where streets echoed with the sounds of marching feet, pounding hooves, groaning wagon wheels, the curses of soldiers, the laughter of camp followers, and the shrieks and cries of the crucified. That’s where Jesus grew up—where Roman power was everywhere and crucifixion was anything but rare. Like Sue—and us—He knew all about Silent Night. Unresolved.

Then came that other Silent Night, the one in the Garden, when the disciples slept while Jesus wept. He cried for the cup to be removed but submitted to His Father. For His followers that Silent Night was horribly unresolved, as was the cross. To them, “It is finished,” meant only that His life was over and their crowns were gone, not that their eternal future was assured.

But what of Mary who treasured that first Silent Night in her heart? What about the silent night following the cross? What else could it be but a Sobbing Night, a night of heart break and horror? And how could she make any sense of those reports about a resurrection? They couldn’t possibly be true! Yet they were! That’s when Silent Night unresolved became Silent Night resolved, even as it does for us.

We live with life unresolved—with the melody God’s presence conflicting with the clashing chords of struggling marriages and stressful careers. That’s when our Silent Nights become sobbing nights.

The resurrection resolves these nights, not just the promise of eternal life for us, but the presence of Eternal Life in us. And how does this happen? When we join Paul and determine to pay any price to deny self and enter into Christ’s death, we find the fullness of Christ’s resurrection. When we choose to enter into Christ’s sufferings to become conformed to His death so we can fully enter into His resurrection power, we have it. Silent Night and sobbing nights. Resolved.

Related Topics: Christmas

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