Silent Night


Post Author: Rev. Alexis D. Vina

The Gospel According to Rev. Lexi D. Vina are fictional tales based on the real lives of young clergy women, weaving in the wisdom of our favorite authors.


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

The lyrics of our final hymn at the Christmas Eve service rang in my ears as I peered into the cold silent night outside the church doors. After closing the doors to this holy night, I blew out the candles that had lit our way to the birth of peace. I gazed out the window to wonder about this tender and mild child that tore open the heavens and came down incarnated in Corinth.

It had happened again. Jesus Christ was born again this day. The mysterious wonder of the incarnate had torn through the heavens as the prophets had hoped. And yet, as I blew out the candles, I couldn’t help but wonder what had changed. We have been waiting for this for the past four weeks. We’ve been preparing for this miracle of birth as Jesus came through the birth canal. We’ve gotten ready for this moment when he was named King over the powers that be, this helpless child over the State, over the ones who loved to oppress. We have been waiting these days for justice to reign. And yet, as I settle into my new home and see this world with new eyes, I wonder about this silent night.

 

As I blew out the last few candles, my breath mingled with the lyrics of the familiar hymn.

 

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

I exhale to wonder about the remark that Bonnie made on the First Sunday of Advent. After the service, she gave me a hug and thanked God that we were together this Christmas season. And then she said that she was jealous of me. She was jealous that I got to be so close to this holy narrative at this time of the year.

As I preached and prayed about Isaiah in my season of preparation, I wondered if this elder member of the church had doled out a bit of sarcasm. After all, this was our first Christmas together. I would make countless mistakes with the liturgies and traditions that this community holds sacred. I would prepare for my second Christmas as a divorced woman. I would hold hands of so many members of this small church struggling with the loss of their mother, grandfather, or friend because for some reason it always hurts more at this time of year. In this season of waiting, while the secular world prepares for New Years resolutions, I am trying to make sense of all the contradictions of this season.

I could sing about my hope and the peace that I believe to be possible in the darkness of this sanctuary – but I am still waiting for Christmas to feel right. I still want to find my niche. I am seeking the exact place where I am supposed to be. And I wonder if in the waiting I am not supposed to feel happy. Like the mother of the Christ child, I am just supposed to feel expectant for what will come. As the shepherds seem to quake from my trembling breath, I can’t escape the mystery that this feeling sometimes just bites.

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

My mother and my brother called this afternoon. They left me a beautiful message just before I robed for the family service. I wanted to be with them among the radiant beams of their love. But I was perfectly happy being by myself as well. Christmas Eve feels alone to me. Christmas Eve was the time that I often feel most alone, solitary, quiet, and then most connected to God.

I never know where I want to be on Christmas. Whenever I am one place for Christmas, I want to be somewhere else – like here in Corinth celebrating the mystery of the incarnate God with these people that I have come to love.

And yet, there is never a place that is perfect. The church is magical. After experiencing the miracle of pregnancy and birth this year of dear church members, I think this time is as much as anything a time to celebrate that miracle that somehow families are formed against all odds. I can celebrate the miracle that God has created the miracle of my new family and new home in Corinth. I have found a new family of God.

And yet, as the last candle is extinguished, I’m still wondering what it was that I was waiting for this Advent. I don’t know how the story of the birth of this helpless child triumphing over the State and all oppression translates to my present reality. I’m still waiting after Advent is over. And yet I can still sing my alleluia because it is over.


The Rev. Alexis Daphne Vina is a 30-year-old recently divorced woman serving God in a suburban context. Having recently been called to Corinth, Lexi navigates through the joys and frustrations of ordained young woman.

Some of her stories are based in reality with lots of flair – but most of Lexi's stories are our stories as she tells the stories of various authors doing what God has called us to do.


Image by: jill111
Used with permission
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