In the Christmas Classics teaching series, we are looking at some of the classic Christmas carols and how they can apply to our lives. In the first week of the series, I chose the song Silent Night and for good reason. It is one of my favorites. It just would not be Christmas without the singing of Silent Night. I think part of the reason I like that song so much is because it is my dream, and maybe yours, to truly have a Silent Night and to sleep in heavenly peace. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

But that is not the world we live in. The song Silent Night on the radio is replaced with the wail of sirens some where off in the distance. I have face-to-face conversations and emails with and from members of the church about losing their job, or battling a serious disease or failing in a relationship. There are stories of people whose loved ones lost their lives and others that have lost their way. There are days when I leave the office that it would be pretty difficult to offer a spontaneous and heartfelt “Merry Christmas” to all in earshot.

My intent is to not depress you, but to make a simple point. Life keeps moving and so it did on the night that Jesus was born. Babies were being born. The shepherds were doing what they did every night, tending to their sheep. Lives were disrupted as groups of people were forced to return to their ancestral homes for a Roman imposed census. Wise men were traveling from the east.

In very much the same way, life goes on here. I wish that Angela never had cancer. I am sad that people are sick and for those struggling with anxiety and depression. I pray for those struggling with addictions of all kinds. My heart breaks for the countless children who suffer with not enough food to eat. I hurt for the teenage boys and girls who do not know what unconditional love is. But while life goes on, everything changed on that Silent Night.

It was God coming into the world. It is God breaking through all of the barriers. It is strength and power and might redefined in the form of a newborn baby. Christmas is peace, love, joy, and hope. It is not about “happily ever after.” It is about the presence of God in the midst of real life. Now that makes me want to yell “Merry Christmas “ at the top of my lungs.

At Northstar, life goes on as well. We’ve laughed and cried together, dreamed of helping the whole world find and follow Jesus. We mourned for those we lost and prayed for those who are hurting and sick. We’ve shared our scars, worried a little bit too much, and occasionally stumbling forward with a heavy dose of God’s help. There has been energy, excitement and good things happening. I can see Northstar, redeemed by Christ’s love, reaching out into the world. That is the difference between life going on before and after that Silent Night so long ago.

Maybe that is why this song is so special to me. It is a reminder that right here in the world is a promise that God is with us. Right here with the cancer is hope. Right here with the struggle and upheaval is peace. Right here in the gathering of Christ’s people is joy. Right here with people, hurting, sinning, and failing, is love.

And that is classic.

Discussion Questions:
1.Where would we be without that silent night when Jesus was born?
2. What is so significant about God revealing His plan to the shepherds? Why do you think God chose them?
3. Life goes on. Read Matthew 1:18–24. How did Joseph follow through with God’s plan? How might his life have been a little harder after following through?
4. How might God use you to fulfill His plan and purpose on this earth?
5. Pray for God’s blessing on our Christmas events and services being held in December. There are many who attend who do not know the Lord. Pray, also, for our hearts to be softened that the true meaning of Christmas would be fresh to us and that our celebrations would be worthy of Him.