Silent Night, Holy Night

Tonight, in just a little while, I will gather with the members of my congregation, Elpis Christian Church, and we will do what we always do on this silent, holy night.  We will listen to a little music, sing a few carols, hear the Christmas story as told by Luke, and light some candles.  It isn’t a fancy service.  We try not to stress over it.  No special effects, no live streaming, no costumes or dramatic lighting that makes the congregation ooh or ahh or mutter to themselves saying, “I wonder how they did THAT?”

No, even the little white candles that we will briefly hold in our hands as we sing “Silent Night” aren’t particularly special in and of themselves.  Some of them have even been used before.

That’s OK though.  That’s how we like it.

You see, it’s not about us.  It’s not about glitz or glamour.  It’s about glory – glory to God in the highest.  It’s about breathing deep and recognizing what a miracle it is that “…long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy Bible says,” God reached down into this dark and broken creation and said “Hush, here I am, just like I promised I would be, hush, I’ve come, just like I promised I would.”

Another year has come and almost gone.  There have been joyful, and sad times, along the way.  There have been gains and losses, mistakes made, and a few victories too.  Life has happened, just as it does.  Some questions have been answered.  Some remain unanswered but here we are again.  On this silent night, holy night, there is nothing more important to do than just sit in wonder at God’s Amazing Grace, the one called Jesus.  Lord, we light our candles to celebrate your birth.   We remember how your death brought life.  We wait in silent, awesome wonder for what you will do next.

So, come, holy night.  Come, holy Jesus.  Come and bless us again, so that, in your name, we can be a blessing to someone else.  The world is still a very dark place.  May your light shine through us, once again.


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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