“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.”
The single-most, salient symbol of Christmas, for me, is a shining star in the night sky.
It’s what wakened the shepherds and fell them to their knees, what mesmerized the Magi and led them across a wild desert with precious gifts in hand. It’s what shone above a humble dwelling, revealing a holy trinity–mother, father, child. It’s what revealed the Christ, a promise of hope, salvation, peace on earth, and goodwill toward all.
It’s what leads us each year away from our mundane, daily lives to a world full of wonder, magic, and mystery. It’s what drops us to our knees in recognition of the vastness and beauty of the universe, and our own humble and radiant place within it.
For me Christmas will forever be wrapped in the silence of a starry night, the background against which the beautiful pageantry and rituals and traditions of Christmas unfold.
All unite in igniting that sense of awe and wonder and delight, of humility and holiness:
The Christmas tree all aglow in the dark, pointing upward to the heavens.
The magical whimsy of that great gifter, Santa, driving his sleigh across a night full of stars.
The children tucked in their beds as their fondest wishes magically descend in the night to await the first light.
Whole streets full of houses ablaze in the night, inviting the gasps of wonder and delight in the young at heart.
Candles shining in a still, dark church as voices unite and rise in songs of joy and adoration.
All are mere reflections and whimsical mimicry of that first night of wonder so long ago. It’s what brought us, and still brings us, to our knees when we realize all that childlike wonder and delight, humility and awe, generosity and love and innocence, lies deeply embedded in each one of us.
It signifies a promise of hope, salvation, and wholeness. Of identity with out own Christ-like nature, our own unity with the divine.
We are that shining star in a dark night.
We are those humble shepherds and adoring Magi.
We are that infant cradled in the holy Trinity.
We are that promise of hope and salvation and holiness.
Christmas is the Christ, and a bright star in a dark night is what leads us to him, to our own humble rebirth full of awe and wonder: the recognition of the Christ in each of us.
May the peace and power and glory of the Christ be with you all this Christmas.
Walters, “The Adoration of the Shepherds”
From “Christmas throughout Christendom – The Christmas Tree”