How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.*
The birth of a royal baby is big news.
In 1982, when Prince William was born, thousands of people waited outside the palace during Princess Diana’s 16 hour labor. When the Royal Proclamation of the baby’s birth was hung outside the gate, a roar of cheers went up from the crowd. They waved British flags in celebration and erupted in “God Save the Queen”. The soccer games being aired on the “telly” were interrupted with the royal announcement. Guards at the palace wore special uniforms for 24 hours and there were 101 gun salutes across the English countryside.
I also gave birth in 1982 to my first child. There were no cheering crowds outside Methodist Hospital, no gun salutes, no breaking news on channel 3. Ours was a quieter affair. In fact, I remember the room being rather hushed and softly lit. After her first husky cries, my little wide-eyed wonder settled right down to check out her new parents. Maybe the hospital was noisy, but I didn’t hear anything. Maybe other babies were being born in the rooms across the hall, but I didn’t pay any attention. I was receiving this gift that had just entered in; into my arms, into my heart.
Just think of the possibilities of what God could have done to announce His Son’s birth. Thousands upon thousands of angels could have lit up the skies. A royal proclamation could have thundered from the heavens, shaking the gates of King Herod’s palace. Michael and Gabriel could have set off some fireworks. But instead, the wondrous gift was given on a silent night. Angels put on a display for a handful of social outcasts and their sheep. A star was observed by some foreign dignitaries in another country. Instead of crowds cheering the new birth, cows and donkeys rustled and snorted in their stalls.
God doesn’t go in for flashy displays very often. He tends to impart His blessings in quieter ways. This world of sin makes it hard to notice Him sometimes. But, oh, He delights to enter in our hearts, still.
*O Little Town of Bethlehem