What Silence Can Teach Us this Christmas - The Songs of Christmas, Part 2

As I said in my previous post, "The Songs of Christmas," music touches the deepest part of  our souls. As we begin the holiday season, let's look at three key "singers" in the Christmas story, all found in the Gospel of Luke. 

Why focus on Luke?

“Luke is unique in the manner of writing he brings to the Christmas story," Magrey deVega writes in his book, Awaiting the Already. Mark wrote with an ominous tone. John wrote with poetic flourish. But Luke wrote with a song in his head. There’s no other way to explain why nearly every major character in Luke’s Nativity story breaks out into a song at some point. 

“Luke is a lot like a Rogers and Hammerstein musical: Something happens to someone, and they sing about it. So if Mark is like a Reader’s Digest, Matthew is like a Steven King novel, and John is like a Shakespeare play, then Luke is like a Broadway musical. 

"Every time something great happens to someone, they break out into song.” 

Consider Mary’s Magnificat, or Zechariah’s prophecy, or Elizabeth’s song in seclusion. Luke really loves his songs. 

And come to think of it, isn’t this true of all of us? 

In the next few blog posts, I'd like us to look at three of the “carols,” the songs we read about in the Gospel of Luke. Not just to learn more about the songs, but in hopes that we, too, can sing them.

Before we jump in, a nod to the serious Bible students out among us. You’ll notice that although the Bible tells us the people “said” these things, the poetic nature of their expression and speech is more consistent with song, like what we find in the Psalms. Often, those songs emerge from a person’s deep well of emotion, accompanied by great joy and awe bordering on fear. 

Today, let's look at Zechariahs’ song. 

Zechariah is the first singer in our Christmas choir in Luke 1:5-25. Zechariah (a priest) and his wife, Elisabeth, were elderly. Long past the age of childbearing, Elizabeth had been barren all her life.

Not surprising, when an angel visited Zechariah while he was ministering in the temple, he didn't believe what the angel said.

"Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth” (v. 13-14).

I can almost hear Zechariah snort.

Don't you know how old my wife is? And how long we've prayed for a child? Have you any idea what a miracle that would be?

Scholars believe the angel made Zechariah deaf as well as mute in response to his disbelief (see vs. 62). This silence was a gift – a gift that produced the faith and understanding he didn’t have when he doubted God’s revelation to him in the temple. In the quiet of those nine months, he pondered, studied, and sought God’s face. What he learned moved him from doubt to declaration, confusion to clarity, and fear to faith.

Out of this holy pause came Zechariah’s song of prophecy and praise

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,

because he has come and has redeemed his people.

He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago,

salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us--

 to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant,

the oath he swore to our father Abraham:

to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear
 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,

to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,

because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace" (v. 67-79).

This Christmas season, I invite you to consider that perhaps God is calling you to intentional silence. Not a total cessation of speech and hearing, probably, but some deliberate times of coming into his presence.

Perhaps, each Sunday between now and Christmas, spend half an hour or an hour,reading his word, and meditating – thinking deeply on what you read.

Ask God to reveal himself to you and listen for him to speak, both through his Word and through the still, small voice in your heart. It’s important to come with an open heart.

Unlike Zechariah’s first response, come willing to believe the promises God gives you. Perhaps you, too, will leave these encounters with a greater understanding of the majesty of God and his plan for the world. 

In my next blog post, “How Mary’s Song Can Become Yours This Christmas,” we’ll spend some time with Mary, the mother of our Lord, and discover something you may never have seen before in her part of the Christmas story. I can’t wait for us to sing her song together.

And if you missed Part 1, "The Songs of Christmas," CLICK HERE.

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Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.

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