In 1868 Rev. Phillips Brooks wrote a Christmas carol for the Sunday school children in his church. “O Little Town of Bethlehem” has become one of the most beloved of all carols. The third verse says,
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given;
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
The “wondrous gift” is given silently. At United Church we have adopted this beautiful idea this years as our Advent theme. The many demands of the holiday season can push us to feel challenged and stressed at a time of year that ought to be peaceful and joyful. We need to remind ourselves that the essence of Advent and Christmas is best expressed in the divine love that centuries ago came to us in a baby born in the stillness of the night in an unknown place to unknown parents.
There are many delightful ways to share the expectation, joy and wonder of Christmas. But through a willingness to take time to pause in silence in the midst of all we do exercises our divine capacity of spiritual discernment. It can give greater meaning to each of these activities and help us discover God’s wondrous gift again and again throughout the season.