Formation Fridays: Wonder and Joy

When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.  (Luke 2:15-16, CEB)

In these past few weeks, we have traveled the Advent journey, anticipating the long awaited coming of our Savior. We come now, with wonder and joy, to the stable in Bethlehem, to witness this miraculous event. As you find yourself in this sacred place, stay awhile — notice what you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste — as you consider the words in this poem by Mary Oliver. 

Christmas Poem

Says a country legend told every year:

Go to the barn on Christmas Eve and see

what the creatures do as that long night tips over.

Down on their knees they will go, the fire

of an old memory whistling through their minds!

[So] I went. Wrapped to my eyes against the cold

I creaked back the barn door and peered in.

From town the church bells spilled their midnight music,

and the beasts listened –

yet they lay in their stalls like stone.

Oh the heretics!

Not to remember Bethlehem,

or the star as bright as a sun,

or the child born on a bed of straw!

To know only of the dissolving Now!

Still they drowsed on –

citizens of the pure, the physical world,

they loomed in the dark: powerful

of body, peaceful of mind,

innocent of history.

Brothers! I whispered. It is Christmas!

And you are no heretics, but a miracle,

immaculate still as when you thundered forth

on the morning of creation!

As for Bethlehem, that blazing star

still sailed the dark, but only looked for me.

Caught in its light, listening again to its story,

I curled against some sleepy beast, who nuzzled

my hair as though I were a child, and warmed me

the best it could all night.


Awaken us, God of joy and hope, who all your creatures sing and rejoice at your coming. Your presence is unexpected yet yearned for. Warm your sons and daughters, all creatures, by the fire of your loving presence. God with us. Immanuel. Hope of heaven and earth.

Peace and Joy,

Becky Elliott

Associate Pastor, Spiritual Formation and Women’s Ministry



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