the birth

image
 
When waves of pain contort Mary’s body
her face is cramped and pale
Her eyes scuttle apart like crabs
The waves pull, recede again
 
and attack more violently
She clings to the wagon wheel,
grits her teeth, and her screams
terrify the beasts in the stable
 
Joseph, pacing nervously,
stumbles and falls
At last, seated, he strokes her back,
grasps her hand; his strength flows into her
 
Then a tremendous power moves within Mary
Like the sun emerging from a mountain ravine
the infant’s head appears slowly, deliberately
Joseph grips it in both hands
 
Now the baby’s cry flies out, rends the night
Joseph’s doubts dissolve
On the straw bed
Mary peacefully shuts her eyes
 
Yorifumi Yaguchi, born 1935, Japanese Mennonite poet and pastor
 
________________________
 
 
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Continue reading

send us, come with us, empower us

Great Commission icon / Ted / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

 

God the Sender, send us.
God the Sent, come with us.
God the Strengthener of those who go, empower us,
    that we may go with you
    and find those who will call you
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
 
Welsh prayer
 
__________________________
 
 
And Jesus came and said to them, 
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, 
    baptizing them 
    in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

Continue reading

to confess what the Lord has done for us

Jarena Lee, By Lithograph by P.S. Duval, from life by A. Huffy, Wikimedia Commons
 
God, you know the secrets of all hearts.
Favor us with your presence, O God.
Display your power by a general outpouring of the spirit.
May sinners cry for mercy, while others shout for joy.
May we be faithful stewards of the manifold gifts of God
    and never be ashamed to confess what the Lord has done for us.
May we never lose the witness out of the heart
    by withholding our testimony from our friends and neighbors 
    of your power to save.
May we not just run well for a season,
    and yield to the temptation of the tempter’s whisper
    saying “not now” 
    and by and by the soul becomes barren and unfruitful.
May we “watch” and tell around what a dear Savior we have found.
 
Jarena Lee, 1783-1864, African American minister
 
______________________
 
 
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. 
It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes
    —the Jew first and also the Gentile. 
This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. 
This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. 
As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

Continue reading