Sharon's Christmas Prayer
She was five,
sure of the facts,
and recited them
with slow solemnity
convinced every word
they were so poor
they had only peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches to eat
and they went a long way from home
without getting lost. The lady rode
a donkey, the man walked, and the baby
was inside the lady.
They had to stay in a stable
with an ox and an ass (hee-hee)
but the Three Rich Men found them
because a star lited the roof
Shepherds came and you could
pet the sheep but not feed them.
Then the baby was borned.
And do you know who he was?
Her quarter eyes inflated
to silver dollars.
The baby was God.
And she jumped in the air
whirled round, dove into the sofa
and buried her head under the cushion
which is the only proper response
to the Good News of the Incarnation.
—John Shea, The Hour of the Unexpected
I'm ever and always a stranger to grace. I need this annual angel visitation … to know the virgin conceives and God is with us.
—Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor
Be Born in Us Again
Thou Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, be born again into our world. Wherever there is war in this world, wherever there is pain, wherever there is loneliness, wherever there is no hope, come, thou long-expected one, with healing in thy wings.
Holy Child, whom the shepherds and the kings and the dumb beasts adored, be born again. Wherever there is boredom, wherever there is fear of failure, wherever there is temptation too strong to resist, wherever there is bitterness of heart, come, thou blessed one, with healing in thy wings.
Savior, be born in each of us who raises his face to thy face, not knowing fully who he is or who thou art, knowing only that thy love is beyond his knowing and that no other has the power to make him whole. Come, Lord Jesus, to each who longs for thee even though he has forgotten thy name. Come quickly.
—Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark
—Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith
Our salvation comes from something small, tender, and vulnerable, something hardly noticeable. God, who is the Creator of the Universe, comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness. I find this a hopeful message. Somehow, I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God's saving power; but over and over again I am reminded that spectacles, power plays, and big events are the ways of the world. Our temptation is to be distracted by them and made blind to the "shoot that shall sprout from the stump" [Isa. 11:1].
—Henri J. Nouwen, Gracias! A Latin American Journal
The Greatest Gift
Jesus is sheer, absolute gift of God. He is not a mere product of human history; he is the humanity of the God who graciously identifies with us and shares our human condition. No less human for that, for God's solidarity with us requires his full humanity. But human as God's self-gift to humanity, as "Immanuel."
—Richard Bauckham and R. D. Williams, "Jesus—God with Us"
—Barbara Brown Taylor, Home By Another Way
What We Need
How thankful I am that when God became man He did not choose to become a man of iron nerves; that would not have helped weaklings like you and me nearly so much.
—C. S. Lewis, Letters of C. S. Lewis
Copyright © 1999 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
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