Sunday, December 13, 2020

Christmas Silence

by Martin Wiles @LinesFromGod

The message disturbed her.

Had her eyes deceived her, or had an angel just told her she would birth the long-awaited Messiah? But wait! She wasn’t married, although she did have a fiancĂ©. She shivered at the thought of the ridicule and possible religious consequences ahead. How would it look when her pregnancy became obvious to others? What would they say? Would she have to leave town? The questions competed with her other thoughts. 

And Joseph. What would he think? That she had been unfaithful to him even before they were married. Would he shelve the wedding? Give her a dreaded certificate of divorce? Fortunately, he told her an angel had also appeared to him and explained God’s plan. At first, he listened with reluctance, but ultimately he accepted her destiny—and his. 

Then came the news that the Roman emperor had issued a registration decree for tax and military purposes. Though her people weren’t required to serve in the Roman army, they were taxed mercilessly. The order required everyone to return to their hometown. As descendants of King David, she and Joseph would have to make an arduous 80-mile trip to Bethlehem. At least, they wouldn’t be alone. Perhaps, they could even join a caravan to make better time. 

The months had passed quickly since the angel’s announcement, and the day of her son’s birth was nigh at hand. Neither straddling a donkey, riding a cart, nor walking barefoot over the rocky path leading to Bethlehem interested her in the least. But she had no choice. 

Before they pierced the town gates, she and Joseph saw thousands of people milling about, pushing and shoving as they waited to be registered. Smoke circled the tiny village and wafted over the surrounding hillsides. This conglomeration of people would never be listed in one day. She and Joseph would have to find lodging.

Every inn was full. Even those accepting strangers into their homes had no room. Place after place, they received the same answer, “We’re full.” Finally, one innkeeper—after he had repeated the same line—told them of a nearby manger where they might find lodging. 

Mary’s birth pains intensified. They had to find a place soon. As Mary approached the cave’s entrance, the smells repulsed her. What little she could grasp in the dark surroundings exposed cow and donkey dung sprinkled about and mixed with hay. In the corner—the only place to lay her child—a small ledge sliced into the stone wall. 

Mary knew the time had arrived. She slouched in the foul-smelling hay, and, although the crowd shouted and pounded about on the outside, she delivered her firstborn child in Christmas silence. “She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them” (Luke 2:7 NLT). None were the wiser that she had birthed the long-awaited Messiah. His gentle sighs and puckering lips were all she and Joseph perceived. 

Beginning with Thanksgiving and extending until Christmas Day, the holiday season can tax the best of us. I’ve experienced years when I dreaded the thought of December. Not because I didn’t enjoy celebrating the birth of the Savior but because I knew almost every evening would be encumbered with activities. A Sunday School party. A churchwide party. A work party. The cantata. Christmas caroling. Buying presents for everyone my wife and I thought might buy one for us. 

By the time Christmas Eve arrived, my wallet was busted and my body drained. I welcomed Christmas Day…but not so I could celebrate my Savior’s birth. Rather, so I could celebrate the end of the hustle and bustle. Finally, I could rest. Catch my breath. See family. Some of whom I hadn’t seen since the previous Christmas. 

As we crowded around the presents in our traditional circle, the children’s excitement and the adult’s conversations created noise, yet there was a hidden silence I hadn’t experienced during the entire month. The silence of peace. Peace because the busyness was over, and peace because the Prince of Peace had been born.

This year, I seek Christmas silence. Not deliverance from all the noise associated with the season’s celebration, but silence in my heart that comes from knowing all is right with the world because the Savior is in control. Among the noises of our world and in my life—COVID among them—the Savior whispers, “Peace be still.”


Martin Wiles is the founder of Love Lines from God ( and serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions, Senior Editor for Inspire a Fire, and Proof Editor for Courier Publishing. He has authored six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Busy World, released in December 2019. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, author, and pastor.


  1. A beautifully penned story, Martin. Thank you for this very timely piece.

  2. Yes, we can still have peace in the midst of covid or political upheaval or anything else the world throws at us. Because God is greater!

  3. Enjoyed your description of the Christmas story, Martin. Perhaps due to the many church Christmas programs we have seen, we tend to think of the stable where Jesus was born as a clean, sweet-smelling place with adoring animals quietly munching on hay. No messes, no bad smells. Shepherds who had baths just before coming. No, Jesus came to a world which was messy and badly in need of deliverance. I love that He chose humble surroundings instead of a palace. Your story reminded us of just that. Thank you.