Silent Night, Holy Night

Tonight, it will be as it is every year.  The sanctuary lights will be lowered to a soft glow, the candles will be lit, the crowd will hush as they hear the lovely music begin.  We will gather – those of us who come to church every time the doors open – those who only darken those doors when somebody they know is getting married – or buried.

We will hear the story, read in the King James version of the Bible, about angels, and shepherds, Mary, Joseph and the rest of the cast.  We will think about what it means to be “sore afraid” and perhaps reflect a bit on what fears have gripped us this past year.  We will smile as we look at the small nativity scene before us.  Babies – one in particular – will be on our mind.

Tonight, it will be as it is every year.  Squeezing in a bit of worship between the wrapping of presents, the pumpkin pie, the holiday movies, the family stories.  Nothing is new about it – nothing particularly different or unique.  Much of the outside world will be too busy or too troubled to take much notice of it.

But that doesn’t make the evening any less special.  Because we are doing what people of faith do on this holy, silent night.  We are paying homage to a king.

We are bowing in reverent awe not to just any king – but the one we proclaim to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

In a world that is chock full of tyrants, false idols, puppet kings, and petty dictators – we need this one particular King of Kings – as much as ever.

So, let the festivities begin.  Let us warm ourselves in the soft glow of the dimmed lights, let us pick up our small, individual candle, light it, hold it high against any and all darkness, and let us sing – just like we do – each and every year.

Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright…

Even if the world at large – or our own world – can be a pretty, dark place at times.

We have the light.

We are the light.

We are the ones who are to tell our world about the Light that darkness has never understood or overcome.

It’s Christmas.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

No matter how many times we do it.


By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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