Baby Jesus and his mother Mary are the focus of the beautiful Christmas story in scripture. In a typical nativity scene, by Mary’s side is Joseph and then in a widening circle shepherds and wise men (an anachronism, for they came much later in the story) and assorted stable animals. Interestingly, Mary is the only woman pictured in the scene.
Recently, I pulled out a box of tiny Christmas greeting cards printed in Belgium from one of the drawers in Mother’s dining room buffet. Here, two female figures dominate the drawing, one an angel with tiny wings in sandals and the other an inquisitive little girl. But the Bethlehem stable with the brilliant star overhead is obviously the topic of their conversation.
I imagine their dialogue might mimic the lyrics of the carol “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
Little Girl: What’s going on here? Why is there a dazzling star just above the manger?
Angel: A special baby has been born tonight.
Little Girl: What is his name?
Angel: His name is Emmanuel, God with us.
Little Girl: Who else is in the stable with the baby and his mother?
Angel: Standing right by Mary is Joseph, who will help take care of Him until he grows up.There are shepherds who were told by other angels appearing in the sky to find the baby Jesus in a manger. These angels told them such great news that they left their sheep to see the wonderful sight.
Little Girl: I want to go to the manger too. Will you come with me now?
Whatever your beliefs, the cards and carols of this season call us all to listen with the third ear, that inner sense where the possibility for hope and joy reside. These twin themes resonate in so much of the music we hear:
- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, cited in a recent blog post
- Do you Hear What I Hear? (See . . . Hear . . . Know . . . Listen)
And finally the narrator’s last lines in The Polar Express:
At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell. But as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found, one Christmas, that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I have grown old, the bell still rings for me. As it does for all who truly believe.
What story or song this season has special meaning for you?