Crowds are synonymous with Christmas. The Malls are packed, the check-out lines wind around forever, the roads are crammed with cars, airports are jammed, and churches have a few more people than normal. Even our homes are teeming with additional decorations, parties, and activities.
The problem with crowds at Christmas is that they tend to trample Jesus. We get so involved in the shopping that we miss the Savior. We are so busy with travel that Jesus is left home alone. We slide into a seat at church that is not our usual place because someone else is sitting in our place and we don’t focus on Jesus because we are angry with that unfamiliarpew occupant. We are in such a hurry at Christmas that we aren’t living well, our souls are in need of a break, if not intensive care.
Richard Foster wrote in his book Celebration of Discipline, “In contemporary society our Adversary majors in threethings: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied.” At no time of the year is this observation a greater reality. Could it be that the crowds, the shopping, the incessant bell ringing and music playing, the increased numbers of activities, the fast-paced lifestyles are simply a ploy of Satan to keep us from the Savior?
Crowds and clamor have a tendency to smother Jesus at Christmas. He, more often than not, is forgotten, neglected, and if we aren’t careful, destroyed.
What must we do to prevent the crowds from trampling out Christ at Christmas?
- Be still.
Christmas, by itsvery nature, anticipates something on the horizon the like of which we have never seen before. Yet it is possible to not see it. To miss it. To turn just as it brushes past us. And, once past, once we have missed it, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s back fade in the distance, we grasp that we have failed to notice it. So move away from the hustle and bustle. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. There will be time enough for running, for activity, for pushing, for worrying, for crowds. But for now, stay. Wait. Bestill. Something is on the horizon.
2. Find a place of quiet.
Christmas comes packaged with a lot of noise. It’s everywhere. There’s music playing, bells ringing, people chattering, paper rustling. The nature of crowds prompts noise. It can’t be avoided. The only way is to move away from the noise to find a place of quiet.
A place of quiet is not always a physical place. In fact, often when we need quietness the most, we can’t get away from the crowds. A quiet place is a place of the heart. Like the eye of a hurricane, the storm rages around us, but internally there is calmness, peace, and silence.
I know it wasn’t sung on the first Christmas morning, but it could have been: Silent Night. Listen closely to the words.
Silent night, holy night; All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child! Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.
That’s what I want to experience, don’t you? Silence. Calm. Sleep. Peace.
Country music star Travis Tritt spent many years playing out-of-the-way joints before he made it big in the music industry. He reports that many of the bars were dangerous places, with drunken fans starting fights over the smallest matters. Crowds can easily become uncontrollable mobs. But Tritt found a unique way to keep the peace in such situations. He says: “Silent Night proved to be my all-time lifesaver. Just when [the bar fights] started getting out of hand, when bikers were reaching for their pool cues and rednecks were heading for the gun rack, I’d start playing Silent Night. It could be the middle of July—I didn’t care. Sometimes they’d even start crying, standing there watching me sweat and play Christmas carols.”
Find the time, and if you can, the place, to enjoy the silence, the calmness, the peace this Christmas. Move away from the crowds and listen to the still, silent voice of God. Find a place, a part from the crowds, to be silent. And, then, you will find the Savior.