From the time I was child, I recall this Christmas song..do you hear what I hear, do you see what I see?
What I didn’t realize until very recently, is that this song was actually written in 1962 as a response to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the threat of Nuclear War. And yet, its words are timeless. Not only do the words reflect the fears of those who lived in 1962 but the song brings us back to the birth of Jesus in a stable, among the animals, because there was no room in the inn.
What is it that you hear at this time of year? Perhaps it’s the hustle and bustle of gift buying, wrapping tokens of our love for others. Perhaps it’s baking someone’s favorite cookies, or listening to Christmas music. Perhaps it’s hearing the joyful laughter of families and friends who gather and celebrate.
And that’s what it should be, but for many in our world, that is not what is heard because there is the noise of bombs and war. Or, perhaps it’s the crying of those who have lost loved ones and are so lonely.
Or perhaps, just perhaps, it’s the deafening sounds of silence that we hear. Perhaps, it’s the silence of a child too sick or too weak to cry. Perhaps it’s the silence terror of a mother fleeing evil that threatens her child. Perhaps it’s the silence of our own longing for more….more forgiveness or more kindness. “A child, a child, shivers in the cold”. What will we bring that child?
We can hear and see many things, but the invitation of Christmas is not only to hear, but to truly LISTEN with our hearts. What is perfectly clear from our Scriptures is that Jesus came in “poverty” and he was laid in a manger (feeding trough for animals). Jesus was an outsider, a refugee, a child born into circumstances beyond one’s control and rested in a manger. While we have glamorized this reality for centuries, we must never forget that the Savior of the world came as a child, an outcast….and how we listen to the cries of the poor, the stranger, the outcast…. is the degree to which we open our own hearts to make room in the inn!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (imprisoned by the Nazis during WWII) says it this way: “God is near to lowliness, God loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and the broken”.
We, who are so privileged, must relearn the message of Christmas, namely, that we are all just temporary dwellers on the way and we must hear and listen to the message of Christmas as sung in “O Little Town of Bethlehem… the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight”.
May we truly hear what God is calling us to this Christmas, listen to those who are marginalized, outcast and poor…and, may we make room in the inn as we pray for ‘peace, peace everywhere”. Do you hear what I hear?
From the depths of my heart to each of you, and on behalf of the Mission of Hope Leadership Team: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Live in HOPE!
Sr. Debbie Blow