Daily Devotionals

December 11th, 2022

Reading: Luke 2:1-14

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When we were children, my sister and I would always gather with Mom and Dad around our Nativity scene on Christmas morning. This tradition was sandwiched between the giddy opening of our stockings and the long-anticipated opening of the gifts under our tree. Moments before gathering in front of the Nativity we would have been screaming up the stairs for our exhausted parents to get out of bed, unable to contain ourselves any longer and caught up in the moment where anticipation and lack of patience inevitably meet for nearly every child on Christmas morning. But my Mom – always led by her faith – would draw the four of us to that Nativity to remind us of what our joy should represent and what our celebration should always be about. 

As we took in the scene before us around that manger we would sing Silent Night together. My Dad was born in Europe and German was his native language. Silent Night was originally written in German (titled Stille Nacht), and my Mom would plead with him to sing in German while the three of us sang the English version. He would feign reluctance but always complied with a twinkle in his eyes. And so we shared a beautiful moment as a family, honoring Jesus’ birth with voices joined together through the two languages.

When I got a little older, not only did I convince my Dad to teach me the classic Christmas carol in German, but I also researched the song itself. I have learned that the English version is not a literal translation of the German words but actually an altered version designed to better fit the flow of the melody. Although the English lyrics are beautiful, I find the literal German translation very much captures the joy inherent in the gift of Jesus’s birth. Below are the three most commonly sung verses. In the second verse, one can just sense the joy and awe felt by those shepherds we read about in Luke. Meanwhile, the last verse seems to capture a glimmer of the joy God Himself feels in providing the gift of His Son to us “on whom His favor rests”.

Stille Nacht literal translation from German

Silent night, holy night

All is sleeping, alone watches

Only the close, most holy couple.

Blessed boy in curly hair,

Sleep in heavenly peace!

Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night, holy night,

Shepherds just informed

By the angels’ hallelujah,

It rings out far and wide:

Christ the Savior is here!

Christ the Savior is here!

Silent night, holy night,

Son of God, oh how laughs

Love out of your divine mouth,

For now the hour of salvation strikes for us.

Christ, in Thy birth!

Christ, in Thy birth!

Heavenly Father, help us to pause during this busy time of celebration to take part in both experiencing and expressing the joy wrapped up in that little baby, Your Son, born that silent night in Bethlehem. Remind us of the pleasure You take in entering this world to draw us closer to You and lead us to join in with the angels to declare Your absolute glory. We do have so much to be joyful about, “For now the hour of salvation strikes for us.” Amen!