Hey, I enjoy doing this!
Here’s a poem for the season that I haven’t read in many years. I just came across it in my files and remembered how much I liked it!
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
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.
from The Hour of the Unexpected by John Shea
This is the story. We all know it by heart. Every year it is staged in pageants, sung in oratories and read as it was originally written. It is the story of a child’s birth, and the events and reactions surrounding that birth. His parents are amazed and frightened; certain shepherds are overwhelmed; three men designated as wise travel great distances to see him. These are well-known incidents.
During Advent Sundays I shall become Isaiah giving the prophecy, the inn keeper explaining why he only offered the stable, the shepherds taking time away from work, and the Magi philosophizing on the astrological sign in the sky.
The story has been told so often that it has been rendered routine by repetition; trivialized in commercial settings. But we never tire of hearing it. Every time we tell the story, we discover that it is the heart of all other stories. We discover that it announces something of the nature of love.
Webmaster notes: If you’d like to know more about poet, theologian and storyteller John (Jack) Shea, there’s a short bio here. The book from which this poem was taken is available here. In the spirit of truth in advertising, the picture at the top is not from our Christmas Pageant. It’s from Kensington Community Church UCC in San Diego. You can read about our slightly more modest pageant here.