We hear many stories during this season of Advent, this season of waiting and anticipation. We know some of the stories by heart. The passages of scriptures that many of us heard last night at our Lessons and Carols service are etched on our hearts, as are many of the carols that we sing during this beautiful and holy season.
Recently, I stumbled upon a book in my library at home that made me pause to pick it up again. It is called, Tracks in the Straw: Tales Spun from the Manger by Ted Loader. Ted is a Methodist Minister and prolific writer of poems and prayers. One of the chapters in his book entitled "Trillia Minor," is about a swallow that happened to fly into an ancient barn on the night that Jesus born. This common bird describes the scene:
"That's how it was that night for me, an ordinary swallow. He saw me, Trillia, the only Trillia that ever was or will be. And when he did, there was a rush of fire and wonder in me that, ever since, I've poured out in a song that I taught other birds to sing. To me, it was as though that was why he was born. It was to see me; and to see everyone else in that stable, every other creature on the earth, to see us so we would forever know we are seen."
We would forever know we are seen. The Christ that is in the world, that dwells in each one of us, see us in all our glory and brokenness, our joys and our grief, and our struggles. And in turn, Christ invites us to see each other - to see beyond our well-put-together selves, our "Sunday best" selves. Christ invites us to see those who are invisible in our culture: the unhoused person on the street, the hourly wage workers who serve us politely at restaurants, the gas station, the grocery, and so many other places of our privileged lives. Christ invites us to see those who are incarcerated, those whose religious and political practices differ from ours.
And so, as we approach the Feast of the Incarnation in one short week, I wonder how we will prepare our hearts and minds for Emmanuel - God with us. How will our lives change? I pray that God will give us the eyes of Christ - that we will see one another and the stranger with compassionate and loving eyes, that when we greet one another and look into others' eyes, we will be as the Christ Child was to that little bird, Trillia, on the first Christmas. May we say to everyone we meet, "I see you, just as the tender, loving Christ does, I see you."