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Christmas Advent 6: Preparing to Listen

Christmas Advent Day 6: Preparing to Listen

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:13-14, ESV)

Few things can compare to a spectacular, starry, cloudless night, especially when the moon isn’t out. The canopy of stars is absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a rarity for most of us to see it due to manmade light pollution. But for the group of shepherds watching their sheep in Bethlehem, I would imagine it truly was a silent night. In the darkness, maybe partially illuminated by a fire to keep warm, these men would sit and listen. They were waiting to hear the approaching sounds of predators looking to whisk away their sheep. Perhaps more than most people in that day, these were men prepared to listen. And so, when their dark canopy of stars was interrupted by the blinding glory of the Lord and their silence was ripped apart by the praise of the heavenly host, it was quite a departure from their normal night! I can only imagine the double-barreled shock they experienced that night. 

But these were men prepared to listen—and to act on what they heard. They were told, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). It was all they needed to hear. The voice of the angel and the praising choir in Heaven led them to leave their flocks and find the Savior. They not only heard the word of the Lord, but they also listened to it. There is, of course, a difference.

I would venture to say that most of the world wouldn’t consider Christmas to be a time of listening. It’s rarely a time of solitude, as we hustle through the days, leaving us drained in the evenings. There’s so much to get done that it leaves little time for quiet listening. It doesn’t have to be that way. Much of that is our own doing—hard to hear, but can you argue with that? We’re the ones that shoehorn endless activities and things into a few weeks and expect to get through it all with a smile on our face. Don’t get me wrong—I’m the complete opposite of a Grinch or a Scrooge. I love Christmas and everything about it. I remember several years ago hearing a guy say that he hated Christmas—a believer, mind you. What a sad sentiment! That isn’t me at all! I love the time with my family and friends, decorating the house, buying our tree, going to a local light display at an animal farm, Christmas movies, music, Christmas parties, buying presents, and all the rest. But I also enjoy quiet moments when they come.

In those moments, I might put on a softer Christmas record—maybe Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas. I might sit in the quiet and in the glow of our Christmas lights. I might sit and listen. I like to let my mind wander to that field where the shepherds lay in the quiet and wonder at the words they heard. I listen for those words that I’ve read and heard probably hundreds of times. A Savior is born! Glory to God in the highest! Without His birth, where would we be? I would be forever lost, with no eternal hope. But God sent His Son here to be born in a dirty, smelly place to save the world from the dirt and filth of sin. This Christmas and every day, let that truth engulf us. Listen in the quiet moments to the words of the angels, and praise God for His great gift He has given us. 

When that day came, the world would never be the same. Though these words were written many years later, I’m sure these shepherds would have appreciated them—words that always bring warmth to my heart:

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!   

Through this Christmas season, let’s do our best to pursue these quiet moments. To hear, to listen, and to worship.

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