Saturday, July 09, 2011


It is still. It is dark. It has always been dark. The waters cover the formless world, and they are calm and still, for the Spirit breathes over them. There is no life or voice or movement in this place. There has never been change or growth or the counting of days. But this is about to end. The presence of God is in the stillness. A voice of command speaks into the darkness saying, “Let there be light!”. And there was light. And there was evening and there was morning, and it was the first day.

It is still. It is dark. The stars are out. The old man, childless and aching with longing, stands and looks up at the stars. In the clear desert air he can see so many, and each one shines fiercely. He stands there, and the presence of God is in the stillness. And God speaks, “so shall your offspring be.” The old man trembles in wonder, but he believes the word of God. And so it came to pass.

It is still. It is dark. The shepherd boy looks out over his flock, watching with alert eyes for any predator. But the moon is bright tonight and the pastures are at peace. The presence of God is in the stillness. He is aware of the Lord’s protection, compassing him round, holding him fast in love. God is watching over him constantly, just as he watches over his sheep. Now it all seems so clear to him, this love in which he lives and moves and has his being. He takes up his harp and strums softly. He starts to sing, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ..”

It is still. It is dark. In the small cold hours after midnight, the crowded little town has settled down. There is the occasional sound from young children and restless sleepers, but here, in the outhouse with the animals, it is very still. The woman lies exhausted on the straw, waiting, between heartbeats, for the final pain that will bring delivery. The man stands there, tense with watching, there to help if needed, but awed to silence by the wonder of the moment. There is nothing he can say and do, she is in the hands of God. The stillness presses in on them, and the presence of God is in the stillness. There is a final pain, a moment when the whole earth stops and listens, and then the thin cry of a newborn child, overtaken by the glorious music of angels. God himself has entered our darkness and come to dwell among us. Salvation has entered the world.

It is still. It is dark, but then it is always dark in here when the stone is rolled across the entry. The battered, tortured, murdered body lies where reverent, loving, tear-spattered hands have placed it. Life and hope have fled, and the Light of the World seems to have gone out. But the presence of God is in the stillness; and this tomb is a holy place, for the True Sacrifice has been accepted, and death itself is about to come undone. Glory will overtake despair, the stone will be rolled away, and love will have the victory. The dark stillness of the silent tomb is about to become the womb of a new creation.

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