Monday, December 23, 2013

Silent Night

It was June, 1985 when a precious little bundle was born - my baby brother. I wasn't quite 11 years old yet, but my step-mother insisted I, and my other siblings, be there to witness this birth.  

Shortly after Matthew was brought home, my parents started going out some evenings. My older sister would watch the other 3 younger ones, and I'd be in charge of the baby. I'd settle in with a book in my parents' bedroom while little Matthew (or, Hewey as we lovingly called him) would be asleep in the bassinet in the corner of the room. 

As babies do, he'd wake up crying. I'd change him, feed him, burp him.... but often he would still cry. So I'd walk around the room with his little face snuggled into the crook of my neck, and I'd sing. Silent Night became a quick favorite of his and mine. Even if it was 94 degrees with no air conditioning, I sang this little bundle to sleep with that Christmas classic.

It became tradition. I would sing him to sleep every night, and that song was almost always in the queue, no matter what time of year it was. Matthew didn't care that I couldn't carry a tune. He just wanted me to sing to him. As he got too old to hold, I'd kneel by his bed, brushing the hair from his eyes as I sang. Those first 7 and a half years of his life, I probably only missed 2 dozen evenings of singing to him.

I left home a few months before he turned 8 years old, and never had a chance to sing to him again. And I'll never get a chance to again - at least, not here on Earth. Four years ago, Matthew took his own life. He was 24 years old.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve - a night when many Churches will be holding candlelight service. This song is almost always in the list of hymns to be sung. I will probably be attending two such services. And, I can guarantee I will be crying through this hymn.

So, I want to ask everyone - when you're at service (or anywhere for that matter) tomorrow (or Christmas day, or any other day of the year), and you see someone with tears in their eyes, or falling down their cheeks - put a hand on their shoulder, or around their back. Hold their hand. Hand them a kleenex, or give them an understanding smile. Show them Christ's love. Yes, Christmas is a time to be joyful. But sometimes, we can't be. Sometimes, we need to cry. Sometimes, we need to remember those who cannot be with us. And Church should be the one place where we can openly do this.

God bless

"Silent Night! Holy Night!"
by Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848

1. 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.

2. Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing, Alleluia.
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!

3. Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

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