Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Some children see him..."

"Some children see Him lily white,
the baby Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white,
with tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav'n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
with dark and heavy hair."

It was a bitterly cold day in December and we were living in a Boston suburb west of the Back Bay.  My regular commute to the office had been detoured and we were being re-routed through a section of the city that I had never seen.  Abandoned buildings, boarded up windows, graffiti-covered walls, homeless men, women and children huddled under threadbare blankets and around trashcan bonfires.  It took my breath away.

Playing on the car radio was a song that, believe it or not, I can't remember the words to…or the artists…but in that moment it was asking a question I needed to consider…what would Jesus look like if he did return to us today?

As I sat in traffic I started looking around me.  Was the old man draping his ragged blanket over the shoulders of a child this returning Christ?  Was the little girl sharing a donut with her mother, as they waited in the cold for in in-bound bus, the Messiah?  Could the crossing guard smiling at the stream of youngsters as they crossed a busy intersection on their way to school, be the risen saviour?

"Some children see Him almond-eyed,
this Savior whom we kneel beside.
some children see Him almond-eyed,
with skin of yellow hue.
Some children see Him dark as they,
sweet Mary's Son to whom we pray.
Some children see him dark as they,
and, ah! they love Him, too! "

As we inched through traffic I looked everywhere for indications of this Christ…and they were everywhere.  One driver letting another driver ease into a line of traffic.   A woman picking up trash as she walked down a litter-filled city street - depositing it into trashcans along the way.  Teens helping younger siblings with backpacks and putting on  mittens that had fallen off. 

Finally making it to the front of our line of cars, waiting for the light to turn green at a busy intersection, I was feeling a new expectancy about my day…my life, when a young boy in jeans and a worn parka, carrying a heavy backpack,  started through the crosswalk.  I realized that I was just a bit too far over the line and backed up a bit so that he didn't feel as if the safety of the crosswalk had been encroached.   As he passed my car he turned and quite literally radiated a smile of appreciation in my direction.  It was pure and sweet and shone like the sun from within him.

I felt touched by a divine hand.

" The children in each different place
will see the baby Jesus' face
like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
and filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing
and with thy heart as offering,
come worship now the infant King.
'Tis love that's born tonight!"

- Wihla  Hutson & Alfred S. Burt

He continued on his way to school, and I to my office.  Suddenly, it was Christmas and I had witnessed the birth of the Christ…anew, in the streets of Boston that morning.  Like the shepherds and the kings, the cattle and the sheep...I had a gift to bring...my wakeful heart.

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