• Friday, December 9, 2011

  • Suspended high above the street, attached to a tall light pole on both sides, was the familiar holiday word, N-O-E-L. As you turned off Hi-way 30 and drove north onto main street, you were welcomed by the old French version of Christmas greeting. It was one of those seasonal predictabilities which, after the first couple of trips through town, one simply forgot. Christmas had come to main street. Windows were decorated with tape-on window frames and spray-on snow. Christmas in a small town…the things of which Hallmark cards are made. "Noel! Noel! Born is the King of Israel."

    With only 26 letters with which to work…common words can soon become trite. Words and phrases so much a part of our tradition that they flow in and out of our conversation, jump off the ends of our texting fingers, fall loosely from our lips and liven the poetic structures of our carols…losing the richness of their meaning simply due to their commonness. Trite seasonal expressions, until…

    Until my bride pointed out a reality of which I have been totally unaware. She sent me a text asking, "Did you realize that SILENT and LISTEN both have the exact same letters?" Incredible! I have used those two words…typed those two words…sung those two words…never recognized that those two words are the same word simply arranged in different ways.

    S-I-L-E-N-T    L-I-S-T-E-N

    And that is exactly what the first hearers of the incredible Good News did. They sat silent in order to listen! The dark night sky burst into full noon-day brilliance as hundreds of angels took their place and each sang their own part in history's first Christmas Carol. "Glory (another word that has become trite by overuse) to God in the highest!"

    The shepherds broke their silence and stopped listening as they ran straight away to an audience with the newborn King. Suddenly it was the new mother's turn to be s-i-l-e-n-t and to l-i-s-t-e-n as the joy of the season flowed freely from the lips of the shepherd choir. As they returned to their fields they could no longer be silent, but they could find no one willing to listen.

    Now, if you drove into our small community from the north rather than from the south, the welcome looked completely different. Rather than the French word for Christmas you were greeted by some guy's name. L-E-O-N. LEON? Same word…different arrangement!

    Be Silent. Take a moment…Listen! "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold."  Psalm 46:10-11

    "Noel! Noel! Born is the King of Israel."

    See you Sunday, Church!

    Pastor Tom


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