December 4, 2007
Silent Night, Holy Night
We had our Advent service of lessons and carols on Sunday. Outside it was all ice and dark, slick danger, but the chapel was warm and bright with candles. The choirs sounded the way angels must sound, and the readers were serious and careful with the ancient texts. There is sometimes something truly mystical that happens in worship and that was one of those times. I knew everything that was going to happen in the service – when we would sit and stand, who would move where and when, what the words of the prayers would be, and how we would light the candles. It was all written out for us in a script. I knew what was going to happen, and I was still caught by surprise with the wonder of it. We sang “Away in a Manger” and it made me feel like crying. The words of the song of the Christmases of our childhoods surrounded us with grace, so simple and sweet, holding much more meaning than any ordinary words could. And then we lit all the candles, passing the light from one to the other in the dark sanctuary, and we sang “Silent Night” with the guitar playing, and I thought maybe I could almost understand the mystery of the manger. And then we all went out into the icy night, into the holy silence.