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.  

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