Written by Luke Patterson
“Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.”
‘Silent Night’ is one of my favourite Christmas carols. Perhaps it’s because of the pleasant melody, or maybe because I remember seeing a Christmas musical at my grandparent’s church about the writing of the song when I was young.
The imagery it conjures up is prime material for a Hallmark movie: the quiet stillness, the exhausted new mother, and the tiny infant asleep, nestled into the billowy hay of the imagined barn.
Yet, in the opening lines lies an earth-shattering truth that we often gloss over on the way to the quaint images: silent night, holy night…
WHAT IS MEANT BY A HOLY NIGHT?
Although ‘holy’ is often thought of as a synonym for sinless or pure, the primary biblical meaning of the word is ‘otherness’. Holy nights, holy vessels, holy people – the Bible talks about earthly things made holy by their consecration, or setting apart, for something special, something ‘other’.
Yet, on that night, something happened that had never occurred before: a night was made holy not by an act of consecration, but by the mere presence of the One who is altogether holy, wholly different in nature, a completely different plane of existence. The self-existent Creator who dwells outside the realm of space and time stepped into His creation and arrived via an oh-so-ordinary couple, exhausted after travel and stranded without proper accommodations.
The great I AM hallowed an ordinary night, in a very utilitarian setting, to come into our existence and live our human experience.
May we never forget His ‘otherness’, and what He gave up to become flesh and dwell among us on that very hold night.