How many times do I need to tell you? Did you hear me? Are you listening to me? Are you paying attention? These are frequent questions asked in my house. My son has ADHD—paying attention doesn’t come to him naturally. He is easily distracted and struggles to listen to one thing at a time. Conversations with him require that you pay very close attention to his mental gymnastics, as one word triggers another topic and that triggers another thought. He is always jumping from one thing to another. He is knowledgeable about a large variety of topics, but he struggles to pay enough attention to communicate only one thing because there is always so much to say.
But inattention is not his only trait; he is also capable of hyper-focusing. When he is reading a book or playing a video game, he is often so absorbed in what he is doing that he hears nothing that goes on around him. It is then that you find yourself calling 3-4 times before he finally registers that you are talking to him. I wonder sometimes if we aren’t all a little bit like my son when it comes to our ability to pay attention and notice God’s work around us and within us. How often are we paying attention? How often are we truly listening for the still, small voice of God? How often are we so focused in on our own issues or agendas that we miss what God is doing? In the busyness of this season with the Christmas music blaring, the lights flashing and family and friends all clamoring for your attention—where is the voice of God?
Jesus stands at the top of the hill, looking out over the city, taking in the view of David’s city when he is overwhelmed by grief. Jesus weeps for the city, and he weeps because they have not paid attention, even as he entered in triumph to cries of “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven.” He is aware that they don’t understand. They aren’t paying attention—maybe they never did. The disciples don’t understand; the crowd has certainly missed the point. The Messiah, the reconciler, the forgiver, the one who is one of them and fully God has come among them and they are worried about Rome, taxes, and throwing out the Gentiles. The people of Jerusalem have been visited by the Christ, and they have missed it.
“If only you had recognized on this day the things that make for peace”: the peace of God, wholeness, shalom. If only you had recognized today that Jesus offers wholeness; repentance AND rest, forgiveness AND reconciliation. This season is so full of celebration that we often forget just what we are celebrating—Immanuel, God with us. Jesus, the Son of God, has come among us. Will we, like Jerusalem, be too distracted, blind, or busy to notice? Will we take the time to learn, to know the things that make for peace, the reconciling of God to the world?