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All Is Calm. All Is Bright. Merry Christmas.

Two hundred and fourteen years ago, a young Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr wrote the words to “Silent Night.”

Mohr was inspired by a peaceful, quiet in the hills overlooking Mariapfarr, not long after the Napoleonic wars. The town was at peace after more than 20 years of war. The tranquil night, contrasted by so many years of misery, occupations and violent crimes inspired the young priest.

Compared to late 1700s France, we don’t have it so bad in Chautauqua County in 2020. But this year has been a difficult one nonetheless. A global pandemic has wreaked havoc with many of our long-held traditions, thrown parts of our economy into upheaval and, combined with a hotly contested presidential election, fanned deepening divisions amongst us.

The stillness of Christmas Eve is a stark contrast to the frenetic pace of this year, and Mohr’s words are so very appropriate as we celebrate Christmas this year.

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Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright. ‘Round yon Virgin Mother and Child, Holy Infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight! Glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing Alleluia! Christ, the Savior is born, Christ, the Savior is born.

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace. Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

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What wonderful words to remind us all that the Christmas story does not begin during the hustle and bustle of the day, but upon a midnight clear, away in a manger in a little town called Bethlehem. There, both fulltime intellectuals in the form of “wise men” and working people represented by shepherds were called to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. He arrived as the promised Messiah for all humankind.

We are certainly ready for Christmas this year. After so many days that seemed dark and dreary, today we celebrate the fact that, for one day, all is calm and all is bright.

Merry Christmas.

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