Hope in The Not-So-Silent Night

By Mia Gradick

It’s that time of the year, again. Memories of singing hymns about the birth of our Savior, to attending a holiday service, or maybe journeying to spend the joys of Christmas with your loved ones. In a few words, the Christmas season provides hope every year to many Americans, in the remembrance of that “Silent Night” when Christ became flesh for our redemption.

However, these fond moments that we look forward to every year are at the threat of becoming nothing more than distant memories. This danger is daunting, as 2020 has been tumultuous to say the least. We are living in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, rising animosity, dangerous violence and constant uncertainty. We have watched as elected officials have canceled the attendance of church, worship in private homes or even drive-in services at the local church parking lot. We have watched as religious statues and churches have been vandalized or torched to the ground. We have watched in dismay the slow erosion of the freedoms that we hold dear.

Religious Liberty Should Shine During the Holidays

At first sight, it looks to the bare eye that we have every reason to be consumed in hopelessness. To add on to this already overwhelming list, some elected officials have recently shattered any hope that we may have of spending the Christmas season in community with those that we cherish, in their imposition of restrictions to keep Americans safe. For example:

In California, a guideline promulgated by the state’s Department of Public Health issued: size of gatherings to be no more than three households, all gatherings must be held outside, the collection of contact information that must be disclosed for government contact tracing, a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.,  the discouragement of singing and only two hours should be spent with your gathering.

The Pennsylvania Health Secretary aims to reduce the spread of the virus by invoking these requirements: any person who visits Pennsylvania during the holidays is required to have a negative test within three days of entrance of the state. Masks are required indoors with family members- even if one can social distance.

New York and New Jersey follow with similar prohibitions. Some new rules ban gatherings larger than ten people at private homes and any business that has a license to sell alcohols must close at ten in the evening. Public schools are closed at the time of writing. 

The list goes on. We are in an outrĂ© season, indeed. Of course it’s essential that we safeguard ourselves and others in these uncertain times. But this seems to be more about power-hungry officials overstepping their authority and encroaching on civil liberties than public safety. If they are willing to go to such an extent, where is the line drawn? To be frank, I am not sure.

But We Still Hope

These attacks on our freedom are clearly ongoing. The fight for liberty does not cease during the holidays, though for many Americans, time does stop. We take in the light around us and desire to absorb the memories that come once a year. 

But, despite all the darkness that surrounds us this Christmastide, we do have a hope. It may seem dim or far-away, but hope is here. Hope is not something that should arrive once a year. Hope is in the every-day choice of living life in obedience our Heavenly King, who was born in the flesh 2000 years ago in a manger. 

Life may look a little different this Christmastime. But one thing that this Christmas is not: it is not a hopeless one. If anything, our hope is even stronger in that we know that our redemption comes from the King of the World, not the temporal ones.

So take heart. This holiday season, hope is not extinguished, it is dawning.

The Apostle Paul in Romans 15:13 sums it up well: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

To a wooden manger He came, to a wooden cross He sacrificed and from an empty tomb He rose for our salvation. That is our eternal hope this year. 

The only cure for oppression, animosity, power-hungry government officials, a pandemic and citizens who yearn to live out their faiths in community this Christmastide, is the ravishing hope to be found in Christ. 

Knowing this, let this be a call upon our civic duty. We have an obligation, not just to the Constitution but to His sacrifice, to not stay silent. As American citizens that prize the enshrining of God-Given rights in the Constitution, we have a duty on behalf of all-Americans to speak up this holiday season as our fundamental rights face infringement.  

Hope is not canceled during this “Not-So-Silent Night.”

Mia Gradick is a student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

Forward in Christ

Proclaiming the Faith and Order of the Church, given to us by Christ.