Last year, I began writing poems to share at Reveille’s 5:30 Service of Lessons and Carols. Here is the one I composed for 2018. The audio, when posted will be here. Merry Christmas.
Come join together, come take a ride,
from Gaskins and Patterson, Broad and Glenside.
Come from the backroads, come down interstate,
Midlothian, Hull Street, or two-eighty-eight.
Come Kensington, Monument, Pemberton, Ridge,
take Huguenot, Willey, or the Nickel Bridge.
Laburnum and Boulevard, come make the drive,
come south and come west, take 195
Hurry, beloved! There’s no time to tarry!
It’s Three Chopt and River to Malvern and Cary!
From Southside to Northside from East and West Ends!
Come gather with strangers! Come gather with friends!
To take in the sounds, to take in the sights,
to exit the darkness and enter the light
of candles and organ, of pipe and of lyre,
the faces surround us all lit by the fire.
Hear words and hear music from so long ago,
where heaven above touches Bethlehem low
The God of creation in all of God’s glory
revealed in a child’s familiar story.
So gather, God’s children, so gather God’s friends.
So gather all young ones, all women and men.
The service now started, celebration begun,
to retell the story— the birth of God’s Son!
Remember the town, remember that night
remember the shepherds who felt such a fright
Remember the angels, remember the inn,
remember the beasts, remember their din.
Remember the mother, remember the One,
the child they would call the carpenter’s son
Remember the father so trusting and true,
for upon this night, I say unto you
That my name is Joseph, and all that I know,
is cutting and building, my life’s work to show
The hammer, the nail, the lathe, and the plane,
the saw, the sandpaper, the plumb, and the pain
of backbreaking labor, each day after day,
betrothed to a maiden so young yet so fey
who said to me “Lover, although it’s not time,
I am with child, this blessing is mine.
“Don’t leave me, dear lover; O please understand,
this child of my womb is the child of no man
this flesh of my flesh, yes, be it quite odd
is the hope of the world, it’s the flesh of my God.”
Startled, bewildered, what would they say?
Should I make a vow, to put her away?
To turn from the promise to make her my wife;
the shunning, the stares, to save her own life?
The people will point and and the people will talk,
this love of my life, the people will mock
This is the best thing to do, it would seem,
then one night an angel appeared in a dream.
“Fear not, dear Joseph, be not afraid!
For this is God’s son, his people to save!
Hold fast to Mary, by your own accord,
Hold fast to this promise! Hold fast to your Lord.”
I awoke from this dream. “I will do what you say!”
Through rumor, through whispers, we both will obey.
Though no one could ever understand what I mean:
The things I have known, the things I have seen
all point to a savior, our God in the flesh;
redemption, salvation, for all who confess.
Dear Mary, beloved, through all of this strife,
I will stand beside you, and make you my wife
I will remember the things I’ve been shown.
I will raise this infant, like he was my own.
Through all that may happen, I’ll stand by his side.
For my name is Joseph, which means “God will provide.”
God will provide, and our God will lead,
with steadfast love for all who believe.
For all who believe, who cling to this Son,
there’s new hope, salvation, and life just begun.
With all that I wish for, with all that I am,
I will stand beside you, I will be that man
Though be it unusual, though be it quite odd,
I’ll be the adoptive father of God.
We gather this evening, we gather as friends,
with visions of heaven and world without end.
The birth of our God, of flesh and of bone,
and the promise that we are never alone.
We gather together on this Christmas Eve,
a witness of hope for all who believe.
Our Lord is the savior who without constraints,
is the promised messiah of unlikely saints
Unlikely saints, I tell you its true,
for our God calls people like me and like you.
So go shine your candle, go share your light,
be hopeful and gracious and loving and bright
May the good news of our savior’s birth
resound through the nations and fill all the earth.
Gloria In Excelsis Deo,