Meredith Harber (courtesy)

Meredith Harber (courtesy)

Minister’s Message: Take time for a Stille Nacht this holiday season

“My English-speaking brain always reads those words ‘Stille nacht’ as ‘Still night.’”

By Meredith Harber

Minister’s Message

I grew up in a German Lutheran church in western Pennsylvania. At the end of each Christmas Eve service, we’d pass out small beeswax candles, turn off the lights in the sanctuary, then hover our candles close to our song books to be able to read the words for “Silent Night” but in German —“Stille Nacht.”

As a kid, I never really appreciated this practice, because first and foremost, I didn’t know ANY German. Second, because I was ready to get home, to get into some fresh Christmas jammies, curl into bed and sleep in heavenly peace until my eyelids open at 4:30 a.m. to creep down and check the present situation under the tree. In fact, this “Silent Night” business was just prolonging my silent night, and I wanted to get things moving.

As an adult, with a few less presents under my tree and a much stronger desire to sleep past 4:30 a.m. on Christmas morning, I can now understand and appreciate the beauty of ending each Christmas Eve service with this classic carol, especially in German.

Now, I don’t claim to be any sort of hymn expert — and certainly not German hymns — but my English-speaking brain always reads those words “Stille nacht” as “Still night.” A “still” night takes on an entirely different meaning for me than a silent night. A silent night calls for me to be quiet, while everyone else around me is not so silent. It feels more like being at a party with noise-canceling headphones on, to mute out the others’ cacophony around me.

But a still night? It feels like one of those nights when it’s cold, dark — only light enough for the moon to glitter on the snow, where the air feels prickly in your lungs and you feel enveloped by the stars and night sky. There is no other noise happening, nothing else to cancel out or to miss out on, but simply stillness, the quiet dark of the world resting.

And as our Christmas festivities ramp up, with the concerts back and the parties happening, I hope you can find not just a “silent night” this season, but a “stille nacht.” I hope that you can find some luxurious black velvet skies and sparkly white snow to allow the stillness to settle into your bones and give you a deep night’s rest. So that whenever Christmas morning comes, no matter the hour, you have stillness within your heart.

The Rev. Meredith Harber serves as the pastor to Christ Lutheran Church, located at 128 N. Soldotna Ave. You can worship with the CLC crew at 10 a.m. in person, masked, or on our Facebook Livestream. When she’s not pastoring, Meredith is looking for her own “stillness” at Tsalteshi on her skis or curled up with a good book by her Christmas tree.

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