Saturday, December 26, 2015

After Christmas

One last poem from Ann Weems to close out the 2015 Advent season:


   after the angels,
      after the stable
         after the Child
   they went back . . .
       as we always must,
   back to the world that doesn't understand
       our talk of angels and stars
          and especially not the Child.
We go back complaining that it doesn't last.
They went back singing praises to God!
We do have to go back,
   but we can still sing the alleluias!   

Thursday, December 24, 2015

On Our Way to Bethlehem

My parents have a lot of Advent books full of poems, stories, and devotionals. While looking through them this afternoon, I rediscovered Ann Weem’s Kneeling in Bethlehem. Here are two of her poems as we quickly approach Christmas morning.


Even now we simply do not expect
            to find a deity in a stable.
Somehow the setting is all wrong:
            the swaddling clothes too plain,
            the manger too common for the like of a Savior
            the straw inelegant,
            the animals, reeking and noisy,
            the whole scene too ordinary for our taste.
And the cast of characters is no better.
With the possible exception of the kings,
                 who among them is fit for this night?
            the shepherds? certainly too crude,
            the carpenter too rough,
            the girl too young.
And the baby!
Whoever expected a baby?
Whoever expected the advent of God in a helpless child?
Had the Messiah arrived in the blazing light of the glory
                 of a legion of angels wielding golden swords,
the whole world could have been conquered for Christ
                 right then and there
            and we in the church—to say nothing of the world!—
                 wouldn’t have so much trouble today.
Even now we simply do not expect
                 to face he world armed with love.

Sitting on the Hillsides

Most of us who gather in Bethlehem on this night
    Are not the star seekers.
We’ve not traveled our dreams
     month after month and year after year,
            poring over predictions and promises.
Most of us sit on our hillsides
     tending our sheep,
            business as usual.
Oh, we’ve heard rumors of stars,
     But we don’t really give ourselves to seeking.
After all, there’s more than enough to do
     in the daily tending.
We’re simply not on the lookout for stars,
     Nor expecting any light in our darkness.
I suppose the important thing is,
     in the light of the glory of the Lord,
        to recognize the voice of an angel
           and to get up
              and in spite of our sheep
                 to go even unto Bethlehem
                     to see this thing that has happened.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

With All His Love

Here are two poems to close out the day before Christmas Eve.

We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,
Or cosy in a crib beside the font,
But he is with a million displaced people
On the long road of weariness and want.
For even as we sing our final carol
His family is up and on that road,
Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,
Glancing behind and shouldering their load.
Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower
Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,
The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,
And death squads spread their curse across the world.
But every Herod dies, and comes alone
To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.

from "A Sky Full of Children."
by Madeleine L’Engle

Was there a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancient harmonies resumed their song, and the angels clapped their hands for you? 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wisdom Incarnate

When I was searching for Advent poems and quotes, I stumbled upon this long poem. I didn't know who it was by, but after doing some sleuthing I discovered it was written especially for for the blog of  The Crossing Church in Columbia, MO. It is a "found poem" based on an Advent sermon preached by Dave Cover in 2011.

An irritatingly
constant alarm
a very real warning
from a very real
and present voice.

Just a metaphor
or something more?

Wisdom Incarnate:
In the beginning was this Word.
This Word became flesh
and dwelt among us.

A voice calling
guiding us out
of the fog
and into
the light.

The Light shines in the darkness,
the darkness has not overcome it.

Wisdom is proved right
by actions.
The Image of the Invisible
became this
for us.

Wisdom is not
just a roadmap,
not just a list
of habits
for successful living.

Wisdom is a person.

To follow this voice
is shalom–
To follow this voice
is to be

Obedience is hard
but disobedience is impossible.

Will you listen?

The only way
you’ll follow
is if you believe
it’s true.

Narrow is the gate
for conflicted creatures
in need of a touchpoint.
Faith is not
religious observance
but trust.

How do I know?

Even more
than living poetry:
His body given.
His blood shed.

An endless supply
with no limitation
on what it can cover.
An overflowing fountain.

Wisdom is a person.