O Holy Night
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of the dear Savior’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices! O night divine! O night when Christ was born!
O night divine! O night, O night divine!
This hymn is describing something we experience at the end of each day – the night. But this night was unlike any other – it was a holy night. This night was not traditional; in fact, the events of this night would impact traditions for millennia to come.
The Christmas season, for me, can be defined by traditions. It begins the day after Halloween when I secretly begin to play Christmas songs in the comfort of my car, and culminates on Christmas day, with a morning of hot chocolate, a favorite holiday themed movie, and an evening meal shared at a house that has been in our family for generations. Traditions like these are sacred and wonderful. No one asks if you want hot chocolate, it’s already waiting for you. No one needs an address, we all know where to go and where to park.
Traditions do come with a downside. There are times when it is easier to get wrapped up in the acting, doing, and presenting, that the reason for the tradition has been lost. There are times when going through the motions happens more readily than being present.
God is calling us out of the rhythm of tradition in this song. We are called out of our routines to acknowledge that something greater has happened, something new, and we are to stop and hold the sanctity of this moment. “Fall on your knees” the text demands. In this moment God is calling us to stop ‘doing’ and to just be present as we listen to the voices of angels.
As we prepare our hearts and minds to reflect on the night of Christ’s birth, let us break away from the traditions that bind us to tasks, that bind us to to-do lists, and hinder us from fully immersing into the moment. Let us fall on our knees, listen for the voice of God. The hot chocolate can wait, and we already know where to park. The next step is to let the spirit in fully and to embrace it on this night that is unlike any other.
— Rev. Darnysha Nard