For the past 3 weeks we’ve been following the shepherds as they watch their flocks, experience the touch of angel wings, and visit the ‘lowly manger’. Now, the carol Go Tell it on the Mountain invites us to personally come close and look for God in our lives.
The song says, “When I was a seeker,/I sought both night and day;/I asked the Lord to help me,/And He showed me the way.” What do we seek? How do we know when we find it?
The word ‘seek’ has been around a long time, and traces back to a Latin word sāgīre, which is to perceive by scent. We, in fact, ‘sniff out’ the answer to our quest or quandary.
Most fables and fantasy stories have at their core the idea of someone seeking. The hero or heroine is looking for a solution, or the way home, or just the answer to a quest. Those who sought the Holy Grail were seekers wanting to find the Grail and enlightenment. Dorothy in Oz is seeking a way home. Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings are seeking the way to destroy the Ring and thereby destroy the evil Sauron.
There are religious ‘seekers’ too. In the 1960’s and ‘70’s many young men and women sought ‘enlightenment’ in Eastern religious practices. Throughout the centuries, people have gone into the desert, or joined monasteries, or made pilgrimages as they seek to be more holy and to find union with God.
As Christians, we may be seeking a closer relationship with God. It may be that we are seeking the answer to what we are called to do with our life. Perhaps we seek to ‘understand all mysteries and all knowledge’ (I Corinthians 13:2) Maybe we are seeking in the wrong direction. Knowledge is not what we really should be seeking. First Corinthians 13 reminds us, “as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:8-13)
The song says, “I asked the Lord to help me,/And He showed me the way.” What we need to seek is Love. The way is shown by Jesus. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself,” (Luke 10:27, Matthew 22:37). Jesus was quoting, and expanding, the Deuteronomy 6:4-5 law “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” He was reminding his listeners that God is sovereign. From our loving service to God flows the ability to love and serve one another.
It is too easy for me to get caught up in words, and trying to find the knowledge and truth in them rather than the spirit of these statements. As Paul reminds us in I Corinthians “prophecies…will…end…tongues…will cease…knowledge…will come to an end.” All the ways we try to define and outline God are going to stop, leaving only us face to face with God.
George Studdard Kennedy’s poem Well tells of a soldier who dreams of coming to the ‘great white throne’. He looks into the eyes of God, which are the eyes of everyone he has known. He sees the eyes of “My wife's and a million more. And once I thought as those two eyes were the eyes of the London whore.” He is self-convicted at his callous actions and God says, “Ye did 'em all to me…For all their souls were mine.” The soldier has seen the eyes of Love and through the eyes of Love sees his life and how he has fallen short of loving his neighbor.
That’s not the end of the story. In despair, the soldier asks to go to Hell, and is told that instead he is to “Follow me on by the paths o' pain, Seeking what you 'ave seen, Until at last you can build the "Is," Wi' the bricks o' the "Might 'ave been.”
The song says, “When I was a seeker,/I sought both night and day;/I asked the Lord to help me,/And He showed me the way.” We are each called to build Now with ‘bricks of the might have been’. We are called to see the world through the eyes of Love. We are to seek to love our neighbor as ourselves.