Do You Hear What I Hear?


Do you hear what I hear?

I wonder what I would have heard had I been there that night in Bethlehem. Would I have heard the choirs of angels singing or simply the sounds of sheep in the fields? Would I have seen the glory of the Lord all around or just a bunch of shepherds staring up at a cold night sky? Wou1d I have discerned the divine presence, or simply the chill of a cold east wind? Would I have perceived the presence of God in a little baby boy, or would the cosmic implications of that evening have passed me by?

shepherds and starsI am convinced that had two people been there that night in Bethlehem, standing in the same place, seeing the same scenes, hearing the same sounds,  it is quite possible that they could have walked away with very different conclusions as to what had occurred. I believe this because my life experience tells me it is not only possible but likely. God never presents himself in revelation in a manner in which we are forced to believe in his presence or power. We are always left with options in our interpretations of events, for God has gifted us not only with free will but with free imaginations. Thus, one person can say “It’s a miracle, while another says “It’s a coincidence.” One person sees only a shooting star, another calls it a sign from heaven. One sees the birth of a child as the routine result of biological forces; another calls the child a miracle and a gift from God.

Certainly very few people in Palestine saw and heard and understood what took place that night as the most momentous moment in human history. The choirs of angels singing were drowned out by the haggling and trading going on in the Jerusalem bazaar. On that night or on a night soon after there was a bright star in the sky moving toward Bethlehem, but the only ones apparently to pay any attention to it were pagan astrologers from the East. If anyone did see Mary and Joseph and their newborn child on that most fateful night, they were too preoccupied with their own problems to offer any assistance.

You see, what we see and what we hear in life depends not upon the events themselves, but rather on who we are as people. It’s not what is out there but what is inside of us that determines our interpretation of life.