This is the “sermon/homily” I delivered this morning at Christ Lutheran Church in Washington, DC.  The first few stanzas came to me while sitting in traffic and I expanded it from there.  A very merry and blessed Christmas to you and your families.


Beneath all the gifts, boxes and bows,
Lies our Lord wrapped up in human clothes,
God became flesh among us to dwell,
We know him as Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Not born in a palace or down by the sea,
But born in a manger – Whew! Dirty!
Still, all the same, angels came and sang loud,
You can imagine the noise – it was quite a crowd!

Praising, they sang “Glory to God on high!
And “On earth peace!” They continually cried.
The shepherds in fields full of wonder and mirth,
Ran to Bethlehem to witness the miraculous birth.

Lowly herdsmen with frowned-upon work,
Were the first to worship – what a perk!
Once there, the good news they couldn’t hold inside,
Shared it with Mary and Joe, gleaming with pride.

Mary treasured these words – kept them in her heart,
Wondering what meaning they could possibly impart,
As this boy grew, became a teacher and leader,
These words came to be all clearer to her.

He started near home and gathered some students,
Taught throughout the land with wisdom and prudence.
Speaking of love, he turned the world on its head,
People marveled at the things that he said.

He healed the sick, the lame and the blind,
And reached out to welcome those left behind.
He brought forgiveness and told wonderful stories,
And gave hope to people in the midst of worries.

But the people in power, they didn’t approve,
And sadly they couldn’t get into the groove.
They arrested him and put him to death,
Leaving his little band of followers bereft.

But wait! Hold on! The story doesn’t end here.
One morning his followers, faithful and dear,
Hurried to the tomb only to find it empty,
He is risen – he lives again!  Praise to God be!

Jesus appeared to many after that day,
Calling more to follow him on the way.
He ascended into heaven and sent the Spirit,
This same holy history is the one we inherit.

So in this Christmas season we rejoice,
Not because the fruitcake is actually moist,
But because God came to us, born in a stable,
And comes to us now in water and at the table.

Christ is with us – not just on Christmas day,
But he’s “present” with us in all different ways.
In conversations with family and friends,
When something begins or something ends.

In the scriptures we listen to and read,
In a friend’s kind word when we’re in need,
Praying alone in our bedrooms at night,
Or as we struggle that one essay to write!

In singing our praises and passing the peace,
Or when our good fortune is on the decrease,
Serving the poor or in the face of a stranger,
We can encounter the God born in a manger.

So on this day we proclaim and try not to forget,
The God born in Bethlehem we just re-met.
Keeping in mind that beneath all the gifts, boxes and bows,
Lies our Lord wrapped up in human clothes.

© 2011. Annabelle Peake Markey. All rights reserved.


Shepherds Watching Their Flocks By Night