How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in
Jesus was born into straw poverty on a silent night because that’s the way He continues to come into the world again, and again and again. He quietly steals His way into the straw poverty of our hearts — no fanfare — only angels notice and sing. (The Bible says the angels make a pretty big deal of it when even one sinner comes to Christ, but, of course, we don’t hear that.)
Why, do you think, did He come so quietly and with little or no fanfare? I’m sure there are lots of reasons, but one I can think of right now is that transformation starts small. Christ’s coming is never boisterous. We are not changed overnight. We start a lifetime process of reflecting more and more of His glory in our lives. But it starts small and grows over time.
A slow gradual change is more realistic, and more supported by the reality of Christ’s life in us. If having Christ born in your life turned you into an immediate spiritual giant, you would be eventually crushed under the weight of having to keep up that image. As it is, Christ’s presence in our lives is hardly seen, but over time, it changes us. The changes are real, produced from the inside by Christ Himself through His Holy Spirit and not fabricated on the surface by us. Spiritual change is not like returning from a spiritual retreat all pumped up, only to be eventually deflated by daily realities. Spiritual change is a part of those daily realities as Christ’s life is imbedded in us.
It was a silent night, but it was also a holy night. What made it holy was an invasion. It was an invasion of earth by heaven and heaven’s forces. The son of God, administered to by angels, broke the plane of our earthly existence and nothing’s been the same since. God has entered our space, taken on human form and lived as a human being for 33 years, and suddenly, everything is holy. There is no longer a line between sacred and secular — physical and spiritual. All of life is sacred because the Son of God lived it. The most human of things is now holy. Christ is in you, doing everything you do, what is there that isn’t holy? Now, we’re not trying to get out of this human existence — (i.e., “Help, I’m trapped inside this human body!) — we are sanctifying our experiences in it — we are finding out what is holy about it. And we are finding out that there is much that is. We are finding out we can live a wholly holy life. God did, in Christ. So can we.