“And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

--Matthew 1:23 (KJV)

The Christmas story is one of light, love and joy—the light of the star, the love inspired by a precious child, and the joy of hope eternal. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, we light Advent candles representing hope, peace, love and joy. We move from a season of gratitude into a celebration that the Christ is born within us and God is with us. We celebrate the spirit of Christmas.

Amidst the festivities and clamor of the holiday season, there is also a story of silence—a reminder of God’s call in Psalm 46:10 to “Be still and know that I am God.” The story of Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, demonstrates beautifully how faith can come to us in the silence. Zacharias was a priest. Luke described him as righteous, blameless, childless and, along with his wife Elisabeth, too old to have children. (Luke 1:5-7). When the angel Gabriel told Zacharias that he would father a child who would be the forerunner of the Christ and was to be named John, Zacharias questioned how that could be. Gabriel reproached Zacharias for his lack of faith and rendered him speechless.

Zacharias lived in silence throughout the entire pregnancy. When Elisabeth gave birth to a son, all of their friends and family insisted that the child should be named Zacharias after his father, but Elisabeth maintained that his name would be John. Zacharias, still unable to speak, wrote “His name is John.” Immediately, his tongue loosened; Zacharias was free to speak and began praising God. (Luke 1:63-64).

Of course, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, not the birth of John. Through the Christmas story, we learn to recognize the light of God and discover God in unexpected places. The wise men recognized the star that appeared in the East as marking the birth of a great sovereign. They followed the light to Jerusalem and presented themselves before Herod to worship the new king. But Jesus was not in a palace. The wise men continued to follow the star which went before them until it came and stood over the Christ child. (Matthew 2: 1-9).

A host of angels also proclaimed the birth of Jesus. The angels appeared to the shepherds in their fields and announced that they would find the Christ in a humble stable. The shepherds found the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothing and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:7-16). This was not where the Jewish nation expected their messiah to be. But we find the miraculous when we suspend our expectations and look for God in even the lowest of places.

Jesus came to this earth in human form to show us the Way, the Truth and the Life. His life itself is a tribute to the Kingdom of God within each of us, and through his teaching he has given us the keys to that Kingdom. We have the mind of Christ and the love of God. This is the source of our hope, the only way to manifest peace on earth and good will toward men.

This Christmas, make time to rediscover your faith in the silence. Recognize God’s presence in the places you might normally overlook. Radiate peace and good will. Christmas is a time of faith, hope and love. The Apostle Paul tells us that the greatest of these is love. That love is God, and God is with us. Love is the spirit of Christmas. And it’s in every one of us, every day.

Author's Bio: 

Laurie Gray earned her B.A. from Goshen College in 1986 and her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law in 1993. A former high school teacher, experienced trial attorney and child advocate, Laurie currently works as an author, public speaker and consultant through her company Socratic Parenting, LLC. She also works as an adjunct professor of criminal sciences at Indiana Tech and as a bilingual child forensic interviewer at the Dr. Bill Lewis Center for Children in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Laurie’s debut novel Summer Sanctuary (Luminis Books/2010) won a Moonbeam Gold Medal for excellence in young adult literature and was named a 2011 Indiana Best Book Finalist. For more information on Laurie’s writing projects, please visit www.SocraticParenting.com.