“Behold.” When is the last time you heard that word? It feels haunted by ghosts of Christmas pageants past. Melodramatic much?
As I’ve been pondering the word this week, though, I’ve started to love it. I mean, think about it—to behold something, you have to be captivated by surprise or awe or both…and give it your full attention. To behold is to be fully present, 100% engaged.
Maybe even more important, beholding often requires some waiting—like pitching your tent in front of the ticket office to get good seats to “behold” a sporting event. There’s nothing casual about beholding; you get the sense that something of great and unrepeatable significance is about to occur. Advent. The Appearing.
But perhaps what gets me the most about beholding is how powerless it is…in terms of you. You are witnessing something that may be powerful, but you are responsible for none of it. To behold is to respond to some greater power. It is to be acted upon rather than to instigate. There is a profound humility in beholding, and it challenges all our constant efforts at controlling life.
Let me come at this from a different angle for a moment.
Even though we’re all fairly certain that Jesus was not born on December 25, I love that we celebrate this momentous event on the (almost) darkest day of the year. Physically dark. In the divine dance of the cosmos, every day in the northern hemisphere gets darker and darker—amplifying our great yearning for light—until the Light indeed appears.
So while beholding gets more and more difficult in the natural, there is this great Inner Invitation to perceive. To look, to pay attention, to witness, to receive. To recognize God in the least and the smallest…and to lavish love upon all who bear the divine image.
This Christmas, how will you BEHOLD?
Silent Night, Holy Night. There is something intrinsically holy about silence. Silence is made for beholding. This Advent Week, take 10 or 20 minutes to be completely still and silent. Outdoors is best, eyes open, taking in the sacred symphony of Creation (Ps. 19:1-6). Witness. Worship. Behold. Then carry that love-fest to the people in your world.
Try beholding, not controlling.