Christmas carols have a way of sticking with you, don’t they? You hear one line of a tune and “Frosty” stays in your head the whole day. Or a different one catches you and now your stomach can only think of ‘Chestnuts roasting on open fires’. Or you spend the entire day on living on “Santa Claus lane…” However annoying that can be to have those things stuck in your head, there is also the redeemed side of that experience, isn’t there, when lines from the great carols catch not only our memory, but our spirit.
And so, the snippet of Christmas carol that has caught my heart, follows these words: “Said the night wind to the little lamb.” Most of you will know that as: “Do you see what I see?” In the song, that question is initially about the star, “shining in the night, with a tail as big as a kite.” As the question morphs in the next verses to “do you hear what I hear” and “do you know what I know” – my prayer was caught up into WHO was asking me to do that. Not the night wind or the little lamb or the shepherd boy, nor even the mighty king – but GOD himself inviting me to see what He sees.
To practice our faith is to train our eyes to see what God sees. We are invited to recognize that which is most fundamental and true about reality since the incarnation of Jesus. The great insight Christianity has offered the world about Divinity Itself, the Mystery we call “God”, is that God is Love, and wherever Love is God is! The eternal love of God not only took flesh in our world, but continues to take flesh WHEREVER and WHENEVER love is found. DO you see what I see, God asks us? Do you see how love still births itself into this world’s chaos?
One man, responding to the gut-wrenching images coming out of Newtown, CT, recounted what his Mom taught him when he was a little boy and tragic things would come up on the news. To help him cope, and to see beyond that which was horrible, his mom would say to him, “Look at all the people helping. Keep your eyes on the helpers.” The man went on to say that, to this day, when tragedy strikes, he is always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” Do you see what I see, God asks? Not just the horror, but the hope?
When God is the one asking us to “see what he sees”, it changes things, doesn’t it? “Do you see what I see” becomes an invitation: “Will you see what I see.” Joseph learned that the hard way. When the child in Mary’s womb was viewed as the likely product of infidelity, he was ready to divorce her quietly. When God invited him to see this child as the fruit of the Holy Spirit – Joseph is undone – and he graciously accepts Mary and the child in her womb into his home. “Do you see what I see, Joseph?” “Yes, Lord, I do…and I will take her into my home/world…”
Though there might be other questions spurred by other Christmas carols for you, I invite you to ponder on that invitation which I have heard loud and clear these days– to take the risk to see the world as God does – to somehow ask for eyes to see and a heart that understands this world of ours as God does. But know, like Joseph and Mary, like all believers throughout the ages who have seen this way, it will cost us. When we see as God sees:
• We can no longer see anyone as an enemy, because we all have been redeemed.
• We can longer be oblivious to the cries of the poor – they are our brothers and sisters.
• We can no longer put off the work of co-creating this world by our stewardship of its resources – it is the place where love continues to take flesh.
• We have to carry the victims of all violent crimes and all the wars and conflicts in our hearts – by our choices to create a different, more peaceful world.
“Do you see what I see” is a much better song to have stuck in your head than Frosty the Snowman, I’ll admit. But it is infinitely more challenging as well. If Christmas celebrates that love was not only born in a manger, but is also born in every human heart and in every moment of time, then whatever the carol that catches your heart this year, may it open you to the truth that God is indeed “with us.” Will you see what God sees? For the sake of this world, I hope so. I hope so…