Luke tells us the story of a night that most likely was in April, at the time the shepherds would be out in the fields at night watching their sheep. A young couple has made their way to Bethlehem to register for the census. They can't find a place to stay, so they are offered a place where animals would shelter from the elements, probably a small cave in the side of a hill outside of town. Although the city was bustling with the census crowd, the outskirts of the village was quiet.
Luke doesn't give us too many details. He merely says:
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. The silence of the night was broken by the cry of a newborn child. Then, in the quiet of the night in the fields an angel announces good news and there's a multitude of the heavenly host breaking that silence with singing. Suddenly, after 400 years of God’s silence to the Jews, there are words all around because maybe God's people are now so hungry to hear from him that they will truly listen. And who are the first ones who hear from God about this? Those who were waiting in silence—in the quiet of the night out in the field with their flocks, those whose ears have been prepared to listen.
Christmas can be a silent time for many people. Maybe you haven't heard from your relatives in a while. Or the doctor met with you and this will be your first Christmas season with the cancer. This may be your first Christmas alone because someone left. You may be out of a job or worried about a job and not sure how you'll pay next month's rent. In the silence you've prayed and you've asked, “How long?” and you don't think you've been heard. You're wondering if God is absent or God is mad at you or God just has nothing to say to you.
So here's the Christmas story for you. The silent night is broken by sound. God hasn't forgotten you. He came as a baby and his name is Immanuel—God with us. The baby's name is Jesus—and God saves. Your silence can prepare you to hear from your Father. His words are the same: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son...
May you listen well this Christmas season.