This morning my wife and I were awakened earlier than we planned with noises louder than we desired. Nothing dramatic, just a day in the life of parents. Disgruntled I stumbled into the kitchen to pour my morning medicine, I mean, coffee as well as some cereal for the boys to buy myself a few quiet moments.
Later, as I emerged from my stupor, I posted this as my status on Facebook:
"The only way I can accept the humanity of Jesus is to reject this whole 'silent night' business. Or a silent morning, or afternoon... Jesus was a human boy. Human boys are not silent. Ergo... (transitive property of equality) Mary and Joseph never had a silent night/moment. :)"
Then a friend of mine reminded me of a song by Andrew Peterson called "Labor of Love" that is a much more realistic portrayal of how this whole nativity scene went down. Comments will follow, but for now, watch and listen and be touched.
Okay, so I am not trying to go all "bah humbug" on a Christmas classic (I do like the song), but I think that there might be something about the song "Silent Night" that reveals our conceptions of what counts for holiness.
When we pair the phrases "silent night, holy night", I wonder if for us holiness is understood to be sanitized docility. In Peterson's song, they sing about blood on the ground, tears streaming down faces, callouses, pain, and weariness. Holiness is not about polite piety or stats quo religiousity. People living that type of holiness in Jesus' day were scandalized by Him, living in total rejection of the nativity.
I need to be reminded this year that holiness is rarely silent, clam, or sanitary. Holiness is birthed in pain and lives to disrupt, subvert, and counter the prevailing myths/systems of our world that keep people oppressed. Holiness cannot be contained in our routines of obedience or truncated into mere separation from the impure activities of sinners. Holiness is radical obedience to a poor God. Holiness is a virgin giving her body to God to be "set apart" for writhing in pain giving birth without a midwife, a doctor, pain killers, germ killers - only a carpenter in a stable that wreaked of excrement.
The Bible does not only say "Be holy." It says, "Be holy, as I, your God, am holy."
Let's be holy in the way a God who came to the earth through the birth canal of a Jewish teenager is holy.