Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?

It is getting close to Christmas, and I'm thinking about one of my favorite carols: Do You Hear What I Hear. I find it to be one of the most touching of the Christmas songs with its plea for peace and compassion.

Imagine the King, the most powerful of powerful, pausing in his Kingly duties for the least among us-- a child who is vulnerable, without a roof over his head, nowhere to sleep but out in the barn with the cows. A humble child, a newborn, a bundle of needs from a family with no influence or power. The King, inspired by the needs of the boy, makes a plea to a warring people to put their differences aside in the name of the needy child.

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
"Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold."

Said the king to the people everywhere
"Listen to what I say
Pray for peace, people, everywhere
Listen to what I say
The Child, the Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light."

But something also bothers me about the song. Isn't this a message that the shepherd could bring to the king every night? Were there not children shivering in the cold each night in the kingdom? Was Jesus the only one? Was the king aware of any of the others? Are the shepherds and the King concerned for this shivering child because he is a shivering child-- or because he is a special child?

Tonight, this very night, a child shivers in the cold because there was no room at the shelter.

What will that child grow up to be? What inventions, scientific discoveries, works of art might he contribute to all of us? What goodness and light does he have inside?