It’s Christmas Eve and the festivities have begun: little cousins climb sofas and people, family members weave themselves between food and drinks, music lifts the mood, lights and wreaths line every domestic edge, adults sing karaoke and play mahjong in the basement, a buffet of Filipino food spreads itself on the table with a whole pig smiling at the center. It truly is the season!
With Christmas having multiple associations to different people (family, food, traveling, vacation, gifts, etc) it’s easy to see why so many people want to celebrate Christmas. Christmas is a fascinating symbol– like an empty signifier that holds whatever is precious to us. As a Christian, one may tend to be possessive of the Christmas symbol, but rather than getting caught up in fighting commercialization or American culture, it might be more productive to humbly speak about what Christmas means to us with plain “clarity and conviction” (David Mathis).
This song is such a treasure to me because it describes understated aspects of God’s power: quiet, humble, and poetic. What is more quiet than the sound of snow falling at night? What can be more humble than the God of our universe, the God of tsunamis, the God of YV Canis Majoris, the God of tectonic plates, the God of eternity taking on human frailty? What is more poetic than cramming and stuffing the flames of 1 septillion suns into the cradled form of a baby? Seeing something so significant in something so insignificant is something fantastic to me!
In Isaiah, I am reminded that in God’s character is expressed in his word. God’s word is compared to “rain and the snow” that waters the earth. The word is simple, meek in appearance, yet consistent, powerful, and purposeful. These verses are something that blesses me the longer I meditate and chew on it in my heart and mind. Christmas is the quiet collision of body and spirit, of finite and infinite, of word and wordlessness. This Christmas Eve I prepare to celebrate the birth of a poem and the eruption of eternity into our world.
Winter Snow – Chris Tomlin (& Audrey Assad)
Could’ve come like a mighty storm
with all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
with the power of heaven in your flame
But you came like a winter snow
quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
to the earth below
Could’ve swept in like a tidal wave
or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
to wipe away the things we’ve scarred
No, your voice wasn’t in a bush burning
No, your voice wasn’t in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden
Isaiah 55: 10-11
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.