We gather every evening, around our kitchen table or maybe the living room rug. Sometimes it’s hasty and flurried, trying to snatch some time together before this family member or that rushes off to run another errand, or go to another gathering or another swing dance or another party. Sometimes, though, it’s unhurried and peaceful and still. Very still.
Tonight is one of those nights.
First is the lighting of the candles. Four of them this time, one for each week of Advent. Four scarlet candles in a wreath of evergreen. We are gathered around a circle of green and crimson and gold, faces turned in towards the light.
It is a paradox. Outside all is drab and grey, the stars are veiled, not even snow to add a touch of magic to the mundane and monochrome existence. But as outside it grows darker and colder, inside the warmth and the light expand more and more.
O 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 so still, so dark; the only illumination is the flicker of the candle flames, and the lights gleaming on the Christmas tree.
Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heav’nly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the Savior is born
Christ the Savior is born.
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.