Holiday

Table of Contents

“Shaking Hands”

hours before You will
    be cut off
brutally from breathing in 
   and out,
You sit at the head 
of a table surrounded by friends,
   a seed of darkness tucked 
      inside one of their hearts.
hours before the ultimate
   test, moment, fear,
You lift bread and wine.

i watch this moment
   reenacted in a church service
tonight. my eyes fix themselves
on the man blessing the wine
   and cup, playing Your role.
his hands shake as
  he pours the wine from pitcher
    to cup. two thousand years ago
did Your hands shake? did You
  struggle to swallow with a dry 
     mouth? take a deep breath
before You turned to Judas 
  and told him to do what he must?
before You beckoned the storm
    to come? 

as this last meal is served 
   for us this night, i watch not
the faces, but the hands 
    of the men and women acting
       as the twelve, the hands
    of the children and elders
college- and middle-aged 
     people
coming to reach out for that
    taste of mercy.

i see dry hands, wrinkled hands, 
   big, small, young, old 
hands curled with arthritis, 
    black, white, brown, red, yellow
willing hands, reluctant hands, curious hands,
    and above all linked and growing hands—
whether those hands be growing
   older and wiser or tougher and rougher,
  more gentler or more soft,
these are hands that change, 
   hands that reach, teach, create
       and hold on.

if Your hands shook, then all the more
   do ours, and i know all the more
You still them, grasp them,
   place the bread of grace
      and courage and hope
into our many palms,
    saying: 
         take and eat,
      take and drink,
          live and be
            children of this table,
                   of my heart.

 
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“Breathe”

we wait in the shadow
of the upper room.
We have been told that change
is coming again. I duck my head
and hold my breath.

pages from the past tell of
men who waited for change
in the upper room, but they
did not neglect the air they
needed. They
breathed
prayer.

I hear it coming now, a bellow
to rattle the fragile and the new
stones I assembled in the wake
of the last blow. At last I look up and
breathe
prayer.

It is here, a crash into my heart—
a shifting, a whirling, a pain.
I am not ready, but I am open now
to God’s Spirit, for when I learned to
breathe prayer in the waiting, I also learned
to speak in the wind. Standing in the blowing change,
I become a tongue of fire
and voice.

 
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“Angel, Angel”

Angel, angel what do you see
coming out of the clouds and looking at me?
Do you see just a shepherd boy tending his flock,
wide-eyed with wonder, tongue-tied with shock?

Shepherd, shepherd, what can I see
soaring so high above earth and sea?
I can see someone to tell my Good News
that salvation has come in the King of the Jews.

Angel, angel, I want to see
this Savior who’s come to set us all free.
Tell me what should I look for, what should I know?
Where is He now – where should I go?

Shepherd, shepherd, He waits for you now
curled up in a manger, near goat, sheep, and cow.
He is now but a child, but He is ever a King:
the Lord of the Hosts, who rules everything.
Go find Him in Bethlehem, go see what God’s done:
giving His all by sending His Son.

Shepherds, Shepherds, let’s go and see
all that the angel has told you and me.
And as we come near, my friends, can you tell?
It’s He who was promised this precious Noel.

Jesus, Jesus, what do you see
peeking out of the manger and looking at me?
Can You see all my fears, my hopes, and my dreams
on this night of all nights where naught’s as it seems?
For I feel like You know me all through and through,
that with just one look You’ve made me anew.

Jesus, Jesus, I know I must leave
to spread this Good News so all might believe.
For tonight I’ve seen angels, seen wonder, seen You,
and strange as it all seems, I know it is true.

So stranger, stranger, listen to me:
the Good Lord has come to set us all free.
I heard it from angels, then saw with my eyes
the King of all glory, the earth and the skies.
You’d never suspect Him, so tiny and new
but He’s the Healer of Hearts and dearly loves you.
He’s waiting to meet you, just like He met me
He’s right there before you—look and you’ll see.

 
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“Christmas Hurry”

rushed and breathless,
    running but coming up
        short as hectic schedules
   chase you around the clock.
when you collapse into its
        ticking hands, they throw you forward 
           again, launching you into another 
                      restless Christmas.

she, too, knows the jostling rushed
    ride of the season: a long, hurried
      journey but still arriving too late
             to get a bed to sleep in, and birth pains
                 won’t wait and there isn’t enough time
                         to look any longer, so she guesses
                   this will just have to be Christmas—

—but the rush of time stops
when he opens his new eyes to see her.
the draining hourglasses of the world
        mean nothing now:
she holds eternity in her arms.

 
 
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“Tiny One”

tiny hand in the straw
here to answer God’s call,
to reach and to hold
with a Love bright and bold.

tiny feet in the cold
here to walk a long road
to carry the Word
so that it might be heard.

tiny eyes in the light,
small, new, and bright
shining so bravely
for this world He’ll be saving.

tiny lungs breathe Earth’s air
and small ears hear a prayer
as Mary welcomes her son:
Now Your journey’s begun…

 
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“Cradle me”

cradle me
new and hopeful I come
fragile and willing I come
cradle me

embrace me
tiny and loving I come
brave and graceful I come
embrace me

carry me
however old I become
however old you become
carry me

 
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“Wandering King”

She is one of three kings wandering through
deserts of questions. Her mount is grief, laden
down with bags full of dried up prayers. Her gift
is the myrrh of burial.
Despite the miles she’s gone, she will miss
that big moment, miss
the joy and wonder and light on that night
of songs and miracles.
Advent and journey is all to her.
The road teaches her not to arrive
on time, but to arrive. She is one
of three kings, and her time is not the birth,
but afterward, in the growth to follow.

 
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“Awaken the Promise”

Electric candles in golden chandeliers
coat the ceiling in yellow greetings while evergreens
dance down the edges of the stained glass windows to settle around
soft, looped red bows. Cozy in the crowded pews,
the congregation is audience to song and sermon.

Lights above and around them dim
for the last hymn. Sanctuary is invaded by darkness.

The people pass one light to each other,
wick to wick, candle to candle, flame to flame.
Arms lift the light high as one, a hundred different
sleeves, skins, and strengths caught in the rise
of the candlelight. In rumbling chorus
they call on the peace of silent night’s song and shake the shadows.
Among them wakens the Christmas promise of change.

 
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