Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Quiet Christmas

The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (Isaiah 32:17-18)

Have you ever longed for peace and quiet? As I write workmen are ripping shingles off the church walls and hammering in all the nails that held them there to the accompaniment of some VERY HEAVY METAL. I am finding it hard to concentrate and wish I had some ear plugs. Interlude. Well, I went home and now have ear plugs which are snugly in place. I also have a CD of Old English melodies which is softly playing in the background and together they make an effective defense against the assault on my sensibilities. A pretty radical course of action? You might say so, but a very necessary one if I am going to survive the day!

We live in a noisy world, but it is not just the decibel level we have to be concerned about, it is the type of noise. In many parts of the world it is the noise of war, the shooting, the explosions and the cries of the wounded, dying and displaced. In our cities it is the noise of crime. Everywhere it is the noise of commerce, of making, transporting, buying, advertising, selling and all that goes with it, especially at this time of year – the great holiday rush. All mankind is caught up in this worldly noise in one way or another, and while some, such as the Amish, seek to escape by fostering a simpler lifestyle, and those who live in tents in Outer Mongolia are naturally insulated from it, all people are, in one degree or another, captive to it because the spirit of the age is a noisy, restless spirit (Isa. 17:12,13a).

The fact is that the loudest noise we have to deal with is the noise of our own hearts. Augustine famously said: Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee. Too often, Christians, who should have found rest in Christ are filled with the same noise as the world. We are to be in the world but not consumed with the things, concerns and worries of the world. In the midst of the restless, roaring and sinful sea of human uncertainty we must stand as a beacon, a lighthouse of stability and peace pointing the way to quietness of spirit that is found in Christ alone.

So, do we have a noisy or a quiet spirit? The answer to that will determine how we keep Christmas. A Christian Christmas should be a quiet Christmas. What do I mean? I don't mean that we should not have fun and fellowship, laughter and singing. I mean we should have the quietness of heart and mind that comes from reflecting on what Christ has done for us in becoming incarnate. By His life, death and resurrection we are made righteous, and as Isaiah says: The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Are you caught up in the noise of the season – or about to be? Perhaps it is time for some radical action to distance yourself and protect your heart and mind from the world's noisy assault.

May you have a quiet and blessed Christmas.
Pastor Ron Bridge of Rehoboth Baptist Church

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