Every year when I do my Christmas quiz for the open house I come up with a theme.
This year's theme is Women at Christmas.
So I spent time looking for trivia questions about what women have contributed to Christmas.
I thought maybe that women invented the ornament, or Christmas lights, or the candy cane, or something.
What I found was not much.
I went home and told my wife (Vicki) about my struggles to find something about Women at Christmas.
I remarked, "I guess Christmas is a male holiday."
She said, "That is because the women are doing all the work. They are cooking, cleaning, shopping for the gifts."
This would explain why I found lots of articles written for women about how to survive the holidays without going crazy.
It is a sad commentary on our world.
That the contributions of women get pushed to the back and forgotten.
This week as I was making Swedish meatballs for our Open house it brought back lots of memories of my mom making Swedish meatballs for Christmas.
In my memories the snow is falling, we are listening to John Denver's Christmas album.
I also have memories of my mom being really intense this time of year.
I didn't appreciate it at the time, but I can see why.
My dad was like most men of his generation he didn't do much around the house.
He didn't cook, clean, or do much of the caring for us kids.
He went to work, kept the fire going, and watched sports.
Vicki and I have a more equitable system, but I can tell you she still does much more in our house than me.
Our family doesn't run without her.
She keeps so many things in her head.
She knows all the school events, the doctor's appointments, the things that need to get done on a daily and weekly basis.
It is amazing.
I know that my mom and Vicki would tell you that they do it out of love.
Love for their kids, their husbands.
But I wonder today if us men have really done a good job of acknowledging the heavy load that is placed on women?
Have we understood what it is to be put in the background, to get little credit for the little things that make all the difference?
Do we really see the women who make the world work?
Or are they just in the background, doing what we think they should do?
It is important question.
Because what we all desire in this life is to be seen.
That is how we know that we are loved.
When someone else takes time to acknowledge our contributions, to say thank you, to appreciate us.
When someone else sees our struggle, our pain, then we know that they love us.
In our relationships it is important to see the other person.
If it is a friend, a lover, a wife, a child it is doesn't matter.
It is important to see the other person.
Let me tell you why.
Because to really see someone else, to really understand them.
It takes time.
Time to listen to them.
Time to sit and get to know them.
Time to watch the contributions they make.
And time is precious to us.
So if you take the time to see someone you show them that you love them, that they matter to you.
It also takes us giving up what we think is the right thing.
It takes us setting aside our own self to really understand another person's perspective.
That is what real love looks like a giving of one selves idea of right and wrong for someone else.
This is what happens at Christmas in our relationship with God.
God in Jesus Christ comes to "be with us".
God takes time and comes down to earth to listen to us.
To watch the things we do.
God through Jesus takes time to sit and get to know us.
God comes to see the world through our eyes.
God sees how we struggle, and how fearful we are of never being truly seen.
Or worse our fear that we are seen and not loved because of who we really are.
In Jesus Christ, God sees us.
God sees you.
Right now God sees you.
God sees your pain, your hurt, your work, your effort, your love.
God sees your sins, your quirks, the things you hide from others.
God sees all the little things that go unnoticed by others.
God sees us in all of our complexities.
God sees us.
That is what I cling to all the time.
That because God sees me even at my worst, and still loves me, I am loved.
I am seen and known and loved.
You are seen and known and loved.
God is with us!
That is the real Christmas message.
That is the message that angel brings Joseph.
God sees Joseph's struggle.
God sees that he is afraid.
Joseph cannot see the woman in his life correctly.
He sees her through the lens of the culture around him.
That women are meant to be property for men.
Joseph can only see Mary through the patriarchal structure of his day.
This is why his solution to her pregnancy is to do what that structure requires.
(We will give him credit for doing it with mercy.)
But it is still a problem that he can only understand his finance through that lens.
God sees what Joseph cannot, and sends the angel to correct his understanding.
God sees the truth.
I will confess to all of you that as a husband there have been times when I have overlooked my wife's contributions.
There have been times when I didn't see all the things she does for our family.
There have been times when I didn't appreciate her as I should.
She somehow forgives me for it, and we find ways to love one another.
This is the power of God with us.
We learn to see each other through God's eyes.
We learn to set aside cultural expectations and really understand one another.
We learn through our lives how to love more deeply by taking time to be with each other, and really see one another.
If you are in a relationship with someone.
Whether or not that is married or friendship.
Let us not overlook those people in our lives.
Let us take time to really see them.
If you are like me and are a married man, please love your spouse.
Really take time to see her, and understand all the little things that she does out of love for your family.
Let us not forget that without women there would be no Christmas.
Without Mary's willingness to give birth to God's son there would be no Christmas.
Without women in our lives who do all the behind the scenes work we wouldn't have celebrations with friends and families.
Maybe men invented Christmas lights, and ornaments, and candy canes, but women made it all possible.
This Christmas let us see as God sees.
Because when we do we love as God loves.