Here is this year's Christmas poem. Keep in mind, as always, that these poems have a good deal of reading between the lines in them ... as I try and place myself into the history and wonder about the sorts of things that may have gone through the minds of the various players in the incarnation accounts. I'm wondering these things aloud, not to try and re-write the story (much less to assert that my imaginings are factual), but simply as a way of getting at the narratives afresh, and trying to draw some lessons from them.
You can listen to the poem here, or read it below the page break.
In the Morning, Joy and Light
Pondering what may have been in Joseph’s heart and mind in Matthew chapter 1 … and how, though he may have gone to bed with tears, yet (as in Psalm 30:5) he awoke, in the morning, with joy.
Young Joseph teetered on his bench.
His head would nod, and then he’d flinch
awake again, and rub his eyes.
And once more would his chisel rise
to meet the task of carpentry –
of shaping, from a toppled tree,
a table, chair, or wooden toy
to fill his customers with joy.
But joy escaped Joseph himself.
It seemed to lay upon the shelf
idle – like so much knotted wood
which Joseph could not work for good;
like lumber, warped and laid aside;
like blueprints for a plan that died.
For Joseph had laid greater plans
than any project that mere hands
could shape. He’d found what God calls good –
a woman, sturdier than wood!
Like iron she would be for him,
to sharpen him; and like a gem
she’d glitter in her Joseph’s crown
and sparkle in her wedding gown!
He grimaced, putting down his tool,
as salty tears began to pool
beneath his eyes. He was a mess.
He’d never see her in that dress.
For word had come to Joseph’s ear
(the kind of word that all men fear) –
‘She’s carrying another’s child!’
And though his treatment would be mild
t’ward her, and filled with grace and care,
this was a project he’d not dare.
It was, like so much knotted wood,
a block he could not shape for good.
The heartache tossed him on his bed
at nights – and thus the nodding head
and heavy eyes out in his shop.
His project had come to a stop.
Like blueprints for a plan that died,
Joseph now laid his hopes aside.
The sun now set in Galilee,
and Joseph got down on his knee
and prayed, to finish up his day.
He locked his shed, and went his way,
and ate some meal, and laid in bed –
some rest, now, for his drooping head.
The tears, from work, that came in pools
and fell down on his boards and tools,
now drizzled fresh upon his cheeks,
and, like soft rain, put him to sleep.
His weeping lasted just the night –
But in the morning, joy and light!
He’d closed his eyes with thoughts forlorn,
But all had changed by the next morn!
For Joseph found out in a dream
that things were not the way they seemed.
Another’s child she carried, yes –
but not out of some moral mess!
She was no warped or knotted board,
but highly favored of the Lord!
‘The Child that grows in Mary’s womb,
the Spirit’s is! So be her groom,’
the angel said. ‘And you shall call
His name Jesus, for He will all
His people from their sins redeem.’
And Joseph woke up from his dream,
and did just what the angel said.
She wore that gown, and they were wed!
But she remained a virgin ‘til,
tucked in among Judean hills,
she gave birth to her firstborn Son,
Messiah, God’s anointed One.
And Joseph did what he was bid,
and called Him Jesus, like God said.
Like drawings for a plan that died;
like lumber, warped and laid aside,
his hopes Joseph laid on the shelf.
But there were plans, not by himself
devised. Not just young Joseph’s plans,
but blueprints in the Father’s hands –
with parts Joseph did not yet know,
with pages God would to him show –
drawn up of old, to send His Son;
and for Joseph to be the one
to chisel on this perfect block,
the finest wood in Joseph’s stock!
So, though he fell asleep to rain –
to tears that trickled down with pain –
his weeping did but last the night,
and in the morning, joy and light!
And though your shelves seem filled with wood
you've no clue how to work for good …
you do not yet see all God’s plan,
nor all the movements of His hand!
So, though you fall asleep with tears,
or toss and turn with many fears …
if you belong to Christ, by faith;
if you’ve been ransomed by His grace,
your weeping will but last the night,
and in the morning, joy and light!