The following is a poem I wrote as the message for the third Sunday in Advent. The Chancel Choir sang the parts in bold, and I recited the poetry in between.

SingWeNowChristmasSing we now of Christmas … Noel, sing we here!
Hear our grateful praises … to the babe so dear.

How often do we praise him?
Between our busiest days?
Well prepared for our shopping
Counting our annual raise.

The gifts under the bright tree
We do wrap and multiply.
For our children’s happiness
Is what we want to supply.

How often do we thank him?
For all our sins he forgave?
We pile our sins at his feet
Dear sweet Jesus, please do save.

With much love and attention
The decorations abound.
The homeless, weak, and oppressed
How do we make love surround?

How often do we raise him?
Our babes to children of God?
We teach the just-so stories
Though we are deeply flawed.

Forgetting wonder and awe
We children grow up too fast.
Deepening love, hope, and peace
Must come from our faith at last.

Sing we Noel, the King is born, Noel!
Sing we now of Christmas, sing we now Noel!

Angels called to shepherds … “Leave your flocks at rest,
Journey forth to Bethlehem … find the child so blest.”

How do we hear his calling?
To leave our wealth behind?
Our bills and obligations
Keep our weary hearts confined.

In private desperation
Calls the still voice or thunderclaps.
We may answer exhausted
Among the gift-paper scraps.

How do we journey with him?
To witness the gift of life?
Bombs, bluster, war, and pain
We tire of endless strife.

Travel to grandmother’s house
Off we go, strap in the kids.
We have packed love with our stuff
Not love of stuff, God forbids.

How do we count our blessings?
Staring at the divine crib?
Our multitude ancestors
Fashioned from the human rib.

Myths and tales mix truthfully
On the funeral pyre.
Earning our way to heaven
Is not the dear babe’s desire.

Sing we Noel, the King is born, Noel!
Sing we now of Christmas, sing we now Noel!

In Bethlehem they found him … Joseph and Mary mild,
Seated by the manger … watching the holy child.

How do we find Lord Jesus?
Rather, how does he find us?
Sitting by the flat TV
Gawking, talking heads discuss.

Doing nothing, saying less
Lord Jesus, have mercy, please!
Inaction as reaction
Is the name of our disease.

How do we feel about this?
This scene of young homelessness?
Start a fire to stay warm
Under stars of loneliness.

Not far from here people live
Under a bridge, in a field.
Babies without diapers
Stark, cold reality concealed.

How do we think and process?
King Herod’s impending doom?
Pay taxes? Pledge allegiance?
Worship the fruit of the womb?

Jesus sleeps there before us
He awakes, a cry, a shout!
The baby’s pained face contorts
What are you “Christians” about?

Sing we Noel, the King is born, Noel!
Sing we now of Christmas, sing we now Noel!

From the eastern country … came the kings afar,
Bearing gifts to Bethlehem … guided by a star.

Where are others going now?
Are they changing their courses?
There’s Doctors without Borders
Needing much more resources.

There are other Bethlehems:
Quetta. Hama. Chicago.
Each with their thousands of babes
All under the stars aglow.

Where are the politicians?
Giving speeches in big rooms.
Some babes grow up on the streets
And are dead too soon in tombs.

Yet some, arrested they are
To live in tombs with steel bars.
Jesus is with them, breathing
Shadows, lights, absent the stars.

Where are we Christians going?
To our castle or the cross?
Content to let the world go by?
To know no gain or loss?

When Jesus grew up he called
His disciples to be bold.
His first followers brought gifts
No better they brought than gold.

Sing we Noel, the King is born, Noel!
Sing we now of Christmas, sing we now Noel!

Gold and myrrh they took there … gifts of greatest price;
There was never a stable … so like paradise.

When will we realize the cost
To us discipleship brings?
On those who honor his name
Healing radiates from his wings.

To them God sent the prophet
The day before the Lord came.
To us who does God now send?
The Muslims we are to blame?

What will we do about this?
The sad refugee crisis?
Mary, Joseph, and Jesus
Fled a threat much like Isis.

To Egypt, hurried they went
As sojourners they did yearn.
Were they welcomed and cared for?
To their homeland should they return?

Who will answer Jesus’s call?
He’s just a baby, correct?
Their whimpering, their shouting
Their cries we “Christians” reject?

Sing we now the Christmas song
Good news, right now, sing we here!
Hear our grateful praises, God
For all your babies so dear.

Sing we Noel, the King is born, Noel!
Sing we now of Christmas, sing we now Noel!

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