Take time to be holy,The world rushes on; Much time spend in secret With Jesus alone;
William Dunn Longstreet penned these words in the latter half of the 19th century. The phrase “the world rushes on” has become timeless, and, admittedly, predates his work. What a concept.
With rawness that scratches like salt in an open wound, the world does indeed rush on. Ask someone who has lost a spouse, or a child. Part of grief is triggered by the way the world rushes on while you are stuck in your pain.
And certainly the world rushes on during Advent. I made a conscious decision several years ago to try and simplify the life of the church I serve during these weeks. There are too many gatherings, too many busy events to try and get in. A concert, an office party, a drama, a sale. The church likes to be sure everyone gets their moment, too. Sunday School gatherings, Women’s circles and men’s gatherings. Youth events, children’s pageants. Add to that two or three end-of-year Board meetings and committee sessions, and life can really get hectic.
I take the dog out about 10:00 pm each night. I was walking her to the back yard the other evening, after a particularly hectic schedule that day. All of a sudden I was consumed with the stillness of the night. Stars shone brightly overhead. Because it’s past frost, there were no crickets, no evening birds singing. Just stillness. It enveloped me. I was overwhelmed with a deep sense of God’s presence. Beauty isn’t always the work of humankind. This night it was God, singing in the tones of Mt. Horeb. Stillness that grabbed you by the throat. Noticeable quiet. Soul-stirring stillness. The voice of God is sometimes still. Hushed. Quiet and quietening.
The call of Advent is a call of Stillness. Is it any wonder we regard that beautiful, simple, plaintive melody “Silent Night” as one of the best all-time carols of Christmas? Holiness tore into the world one silent night.
Jesus said, “Peace, be still.”