But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. (Habakkuk 2:20)
The words are, Silent night, holy night. We have sung them softly, sometimes holding a lighted candle in a darkened sanctuary. We have come with reverence to worship the newborn King.
A week from now there may be noisemakers and revelry. Not tonight. One Christmas carol carries the words, Still, still, still—one can hear the falling snow.
There is already too much noise in the world. Gadgets of all sorts beam the sounds of the world into our ears. Those pulsating airwaves and digital streams are never silent.
The Old Testament Prophet, Habakkuk, would not have known an iPhone from a saxophone. But he did know when to shut up. He did know when the whole world should be silent.
“The Lord is in his holy temple” he reports. No cameras allowed! No reporter’s microphone shoved into the face of the Holy One. “Let all the earth be silent before him.”
Reverence! Respect! Awe! That’s the proper initial response from the human race. No questions. No commentaries. No comments.
It doesn’t seem like a temple—that feeding trough in that stable. No golden throne or silk sheets. Over a nearby field angels sang to shepherds, but not here.
But, the LORD was, indeed, in his holy temple that holy night. Heaven may be listed as the location of his throne, but anywhere he appears is his temple. Once it was a burning bush; once a mountain top; and now a manger.
We are far removed in time and space from that stable, but not from him. He came to make his dwelling in us. We are his temple, he tells us.
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? (I Corinthians 3:16)
How’s that for making us stop to think?
Isn’t this part of the Christmas miracle? Doesn’t that make us re-evaluate who we are, and what we are doing here? Doesn’t that open our eyes to see how God sees us?
We will be glad to join in with the song of the Christmas angels. We will sing out “Joy to the World!” But, first we will pause to let the miracle of God’s ways sink into our soul.
We begin our celebration of the Savior’s birth with quiet wonder.
It is time for some silence this night.
Lord of wonder, mercy, and might, the miracle of Christmas causes us to pause in the rush of our busy lives to ponder the greatness of your love. We pray that the guns of war may be silent this Christmas Eve. We pray that we might be instruments of peace upon the earth as we oppose those who would do evil. But, most of all, we pray that you may continue to dwell inside of us. For, if you are with us, we are blessed, and we will be a blessing to others. Hear now our silent prayer this holy night.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military