Last year I gathered a couple of my favorite Christmas poems together. They’re still my favorites. As are those illustrations from Everett Patterson and Fritz Eichenberg. The first of the poems is by the mid twentieth century Unitarian Universalist minister Sophia Lyon Fahs.
For so the children come
And so they have been coming.
Always in the same way they come
born of the seed of man and woman.
No angels herald their beginnings.
No prophets predict their future courses.
No wisemen see a star to show where to find the babe
that will save humankind.
Yet each night a child is born is a holy night,
Fathers and mothers —
sitting beside their children’s cribs
feel glory in the sight of a new life beginning.
They ask, “Where and how will this new life end?
Or will it ever end?”
Each night a child is born is a holy night —
A time for singing,
A time for wondering,
A time for worshipping.
The great what if? What might be?
The promise held within the great cycle that leads us to this day, to Christmas.
I hope we allow ourselves the moment to notice. I believe it is so important. Because, there is a next day. So far always…
Howard Thurman is much on my mind. He’ll be a touchstone for my post Christmas sermon at the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles this coming Sunday. Reverend Thurman was a Baptist minister, sometime dean of the chapel at Boston University, and founding minister of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco. He sang to us, all of us, about the mystery of what follows out of Christmas. I consider it something of a touchstone for what follows when we tumble into the deep places.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
The second step. The great return.
And. Of course, for the moment, that is still to come.
Today, we mark the story itself. It includes the remembering of a possible future. But for the moment. Just to recall this moment.
A family. Refugees. Immigrants. The poor. The lost. The forgotten.
And out of that moment, this moment, something wondrous can birth. Does birth.
Where the poor are raised up, where the lost and forgotten are found and remembered.
But, now, also in this moment, as the wondrous Sophia sang, a pause, a breath, a birth,
In this world of hurt and longing, a moment to notice the gift of it all. Soon, as blessed Howard sang to us, there is much work. Coming soon.
All of it as ordinary as possible.
All of it a miracle.
Merry Christmas friends!
About the images: