by Todd Jenkins
Published by permission of Todd Jenkins (96-11-19) on this Kir-Shalom Sub Page on November 19th 1996. Permission to use this poem is granted provided due acknowledgement is made as to authorship.
Twas the Beginning of Advent
‘Twas the beginning of Advent and all through the Church
Our hope was all dying– we’d given up on the search.
It wasn’t so much that Christ wasn’t invited,
But after 2,000 plus years we were no longer excited.
Oh, we knew what was coming– no doubt about that.
And that was the trouble– it was all “old hat.”
November brought the first of an unending series of pains
With carefully orchestrated advertising campaigns.
There were gadgets and dolls and all sorts of toys.
Enough to seduce even the most devout girls and boys.
Unfortunately, it seemed, no one was completely exempt
From this seasonal virus that did all of us tempt.
The priests and prophets and certainly the kings
Were all so consumed with the desire for “things!”
It was rare, if at all, that you’d hear of the reason
For the origin of this whole holy-day season.
A baby, it seems, once had been born
In the mid-east somewhere on that first holy-day morn.
But what does that mean for folks like us,
Who’ve lost ourselves in the hoopla and fuss?
Can we re-learn the art of wondering and waiting,
Of hoping and praying, and anticipating?
Can we let go of all the things and the stuff?
Can we open our hands and our hearts long enough?
Can we open our eyes and open our ears?
Can we find him again after all of these years?
Will this year be different from all the rest?
Will we be able to offer him all of our best?
So many questions, unanswered thus far,
As wisemen seeking the home of the star.
Where do we begin– how do we start
To make for the child a place in our heart?
Perhaps we begin by letting go
Of our limits on hope, and of the stuff that we know.
Let go of the shopping, of the chaos and fuss,
Let go of the searching, let Christmas find us.
We open our hearts, our hands and our eyes,
To see the king coming in our own neighbours’ cries.
We look without seeking what we think we’ve earned,
But rather we’re looking for relationships spurned.
With him he brings wholeness and newness of life
For brother and sister, for husband and wife.
The Christ-child comes not by our skill,
But rather he comes by his own Father’s will.
We can’t make him come with parties and bright trees,
But only by getting down on our knees.
He’ll come if we wait amidst our affliction,
Coming in spite of, not by our restriction.
His coming will happen– of this there’s no doubt.
The question is whether we’ll be in or out.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”
Do you have the courage to peer through the lock?
A basket on your porch, a child in your reach.
A baby to love, to feed and to teach.
He’ll grow in wisdom as God’s only Son.
How far will we follow this radical one?
He’ll lead us to challenge the way that things are.
He’ll lead us to follow a single bright star.
But that will come later if we’re still around.
The question for now: Is the child to be found?
Can we block out commercials, the hype and the malls?
Can we find solitude in our tinselled halls?
Can we keep alert, keep hope, stay awake?
Can we receive the child for ours and God’s sake?
From on high with the caroling host as he sees us,
He yearns to read on our lips the prayer: Come Lord Jesus!
As Advent begins all these questions make plea.
The only true answer: We will see, we will see.
J. Todd Jenkins, Intentional Pastor,
First Presbyterian Church, Fayettevile, Tennessee
The Spirit calls us to take this Advent personally and be personally invested in seeking his new future in this remembering and re-telling of Emmanuel – God being with us now.
We still need him. We still rely on Emmanuel. We need his life, his grace and his power for a new Advent – one more until the second Advent when all will be said and done and our mission complete – to love God with our whole heart and others as ourselves.
With Elizabeth may we find God’s new future for us and our college and our lives this Christmas;
“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
Come, Lord Jesus, come.