The snow crunched beneath his feet as Pastor Josef Mohr climbed the hill outside of town. He was in a thoughtful mood, not just because of the Nativity play he had just witnessed but also because he had a Christmas Eve service to prepare for the next evening and no working organ to accompany it. As he looked out across the snow covered town of Oberndorf, Austria, however, an idea struck him. The scene was peaceful and it reminded him of a poem he had written some time before, "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht." The next day he visited the home of his organist, Franz Gruber, and asked if Franz could put together a melody for his poem that could be played on a guitar. A few hours later, by the light of the candle-lit church, Franz and Pastor Mohr sang and played "Silent Night" for the first time.
As we sing 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," it's easy to get lost in the romance of the story. We think about sweet smelling hay, warm animals, and a star hovering over the cute stable. This all may be true, but it was also very real and very difficult. In fact, Jesus didn't come to be a cute cuddly baby wrapped in a blanket. He came to die. In speaking of His death years later He said, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour" (John 12:27). As the recipients of the greatest gift ever given, it's not a bad thing to be filled with warmth and love at the thought of the story of Jesus' birth. But let's not forget the reason that He came and promise to show the same selfless love to those around us.
Learning to love,