No Ear May Hear Him Coming

The weeks before Christmas are a study in contrasts. On the one hand, our consumer-driven, market economy is in overdrive. Retail business is brisk, store hours are long, shoppers follow sale after sale, looking for bargains. In fact, retail merchants depend on the weeks before Christmas for a positive bottom line at year’s end. I noted, with chagrin, that “Black Friday” shopping mania has drifted into Thanksgiving Day itself. Apparently results were strong. People celebrated Thanksgiving by shopping. The culture all around us is in full celebrative mode. The tiny Michigan Avenue lights are as magical as ever and this year’s Christmas Parade, with large Disney characters, Disney music, Disney movie advertisements, was bigger and better than ever. Even the once elegant holiday decorations in the Water Tower elevator atrium have been replaced by garish Disney characters;  Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck. The parade culminates in a noisy, elaborate fireworks display at the Michigan Avenue bridge.

In the meantime, the churches and some of us wait, not only for Santa Claus, but for an infant’s birth. We settle in for a period of quiet reflection in preparation for the mystery of God’s love coming into the world in a human birth. In contrast to what is happening all around us, the first Christmas was mostly unnoticed, except for an Innkeeper who allowed a man and his young, very pregnant, wife to spend the night in the stable out back and who must have heard the cries of a newborn who arrived during the night and, of course, a few shepherds who were spending their night watching their sheep on a hillside outside of town. The place itself, Bethlehem, was inconspicuous, not very important and utterly quiet.

I love this season we know as Advent. I also love the cultural celebration as well;  all the lights and color and music and gift buying and giving. But these days of Advent are a reminder to slow down, to find a few moments each day to listen to a Christmas carol, and to ponder, for a moment or two, the amazing gift we all have been given in that baby’s quiet birth.

How silently, how silently, The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear Him coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in.


  1. Bud Fennema says:


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