– Br. Michael, ofm
Every Christmas card we see shows the Baby Jesus either sleeping peaceful or attentive and happy. Mary is put together, hair neatly tied backed and ready to welcome guests after giving birth. Joseph often stands beaming with delight just gazing at the beauty of the scene. While this is beautiful and invites us into the peace we are seeking, it does not capture the sound, the noise, the reality of the holy night. On the night of nights when God came to earth, birthed into the world by a teenager, it wasn’t sanitized and perfect; it was messy and organic. This is beauty, this our God meeting us in the reality of our lives.
This Advent we have been pondering sounds of the season. I have offered reflections from my life; some of the stories were moments captured from my childhood while others were stories invoked by images and items. Sound is one of the great gifts of our senses; it alerts us, it expresses emotions, it invites us into living. I have met very few people who are deaf, and yet in their not hearing there is still a sense of sound or ways to express it. As we step into Christmas, I continue to ponder sound and also the messy, and beauty. Those of us who have the gift of hearing are invited into this season with story, scripture, music, greetings and even creation. Can we take this gift and allow it to penetrate these holy days? We must not let words or songs just loft past us but allow them to touch our hearts, awakening us to the Word Made Flesh – God With Us here and now. Let us remember Mary cried out in labour pains, the Baby Jesus cried, Joseph (although silent in scripture) had to have asked for a place to stay and to find some words of comfort for his new family. Remember the sheep bleated, other animals nestled in the hay, birds chirped, the angels sang, the shepherds fell down in praise then spread the good news, and heaven and nature sang. There is nothing silent, tidy or perfect about any of this. In the intrusion of a birth, our God came to us and the message has been love ever since. Let us again pick up this love message of good news – Our God With Us in this season and sound it into the new year.
In the messiness of our lives during the Christmas Season with people coming and going, life unfolding, sickness and health still present, world issues still unfolding, conversations wanted and unwanted, longings not being met and so on, let us be attentive to what our heart is hearing. How are all of these an invitation to come to the crib and hear the chaotic cacophony of joy, hope, longing, seeking, promise, hurting, unfolding and love?
Do you hear what I hear?
I hear the voice of Divine Love – Our God. In the everything of this feast, in the moments celebrated and the moments hurting our God again declares, “This is for each one of you my beloved children, for you are always in my heart.” Let us attune our heart this season to voice of love again and again, it will come in unexpected ways; like a child of long ago born in stable, letting out his first cry while lying in a manger.
A dozen songs for your listening and heart reflection as we celebrate the season of Christmas:
Do You Hear What I Hear? – Harry Simeone Chorale or Bing Crosby
Come Darkness, Come Light – Mary Chapin Carpenter
The Friendly Beasts – Burl Ives
Children Run Joyfully – St. Louis Jesuits
Hark the Herald Angels Sing – L’Angelus
Joy to the World – Boney M
Now the Bells Ring – Rita MacNeil
Ding Dong! Merrily on High! – Choir of Clare College
The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth – Jann Arden
Go Tell It On The Mountain – Anne Murray
Momma Mary – Roger Whittaker
My Soul Magnifies The Lord – Chris Tomlin
Each of these songs move us beyond being caught up in perfectly crafted nativity scenes. They invite us to hear and notice the sounds which filled the first Christmas and continue to speak to our heart this Christmas and always.
As we celebrate this Christmas Season
may our ears and hearts be attentive
to the song of God sung into our heart
and may the sounds and songs of the season guide us
into new encounters of Divine Love – God With us
as we journey into a New Year.
From the Friars and Staff at Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre
we wish you a
filled with peace,
goodness and hope.
Blessings to you in 2023!
Thank you for
your prayers and support.