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From the Bishop - January 2011

Do you see what I see?

I have a confession to make. Every year, even before Advent is over, I search the radio dial until I find an FM station that plays Christmas music and nothing but 24 hours a day. I admit that I get frustrated (my confession continues) because so much of the music is less in celebration of our Savior’s birth and more about the pagan winter solstice theme…you know, snowy winter wonderlands, jingle bells, mistletoe, and chestnuts roasting. All of it is delightful, don’t get me wrong, but it has little or nothing to do with the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ…the reason, as they say, for the season.

My spirit soars when I listen to Handel’s Messiah or Adeste Fideles , O Holy Night , or the Gregorian Introit verse for Midnight Mass, Dominus dixit ad me , or even the more contemporary Mary, Did You Know , by Clay Aiken, with that remarkable line, “Mary, did you know when you kiss your little baby you kissed the face of God?”

One of my mother’s favorites was Do You Hear What I Hear , the 1962 hit by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne. “Said the night wind to the little lamb, Do you see what I see?...Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, Do you hear what I hear”…Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king, Do you know what I know?

So let me ask you, as Christmas draws near:

Do you hear what I hear?

In the cry of an infant child, the voice of the One who is God’s word of love and reconciliation?

In the quiet of Bethlehem’s night, the gentle voice of the Creator inviting us to new appreciation of who we are, created in God’s image and destined for eternity?

In the songs of the Christmas feast, the longing of every human heart for that “something more” that only comes in the gift of friendship with Christ?

In the season’s expressions of love and friendship, an echo of the unconditional love of God our Father?

In the angelic chorus, the excitement of all true believers at the joy of singing out God’s glory?

In the word that is God’s word, the only guarantee of justice and peace on earth?

Do you see what I see?

In the face of the divine infant, the unveiled gentleness of God’s face, turned forever toward us in mercy?

In the smiles of Mary and Joseph, the meaning of unselfish love?

In the wonder-filled faces of shepherds, a glimpse of humankind’s longing for God’s presence, and joy at finding it?

In the faces of one another, a reflection of the face of God, who is born to us in human flesh, and remains with us as Emmanuel?

In the troubled eyes of the anxious, the tired eyes of the poor, the hungry eyes of the homeless, Jesus’ own eyes pleading for a loving look, a healing touch?

Do you know what I know, what God has revealed to us?

That the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light? And upon those who dwelt in a land of gloom, a light has shone?

That a child is born to us, a son given us? And upon His shoulder dominion rests?

That the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways…as we await the glory of our God and savior Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us to deliver us?

That the angel’s words to the shepherds are God’s words to us: “Do not be afraid!”

Listen to what I say…

“Behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy…for today in the city of David a savior has born for you who is Christ and Lord… Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.

Peace, God’s own peace, to you and to all those you love. A blessed Christmas and a New Year of hope and peace!