Essay

A Prayer for Christmas Eve

By December 23, 2016 13 Comments
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Come, Savior.

Come amid the salt-crusted cars lined up at the light,
amid the clamor and bustle of commerce,
the grocery store cash drawer rings,
the have-a-nice-days. Come for the father
leading three little girls in puffy coats,
chattering and jostling to push the cart,
for the woman shivering at the intersection,
holding a homeless sign, God bless.
Come where we are caught in the crazy,
and looking the other way.

Come for the woman hooked to a chemo IV,
and for the friend knitting beside her,
looping strength with strength, row after row.
Come amid the smells of the healing
and the dying, to the NICU, the Alzheimer’s wing,
to bodies beloved or abandoned, eyes fading,
to the mother, exhausted, her children bathed
and in bed, another shift tomorrow, so much to do.
Come where we reach the end of our strength,
in courageous hope or helpless sighing.

Come in the contentment and the quiet
to the boy safe in bed, between waking and sleep,
his parents’ low voices in the hall, all is well,
to the family gathering at table, together
after long months apart, folding hands for prayer.
Come in the choir’s unison intake of breath
before their voices sound, in the violinist’s
poise of bow on the string. Come to the grandpa
settling on the sofa, calling his little dog to his lap.
Come where we are open and waiting.

Come to the young woman between semesters,
hiking a winter trail, listening for chattering jays
as her future shifts shapes in her mind.
Come to all our in-betweens,
slipping by stealth into this weary world.
Come before the bitter word is spoken,
come between asthmatic breaths.
Come between power and weakness,
between shattered and blessed.
Come as angels sing glory down between heaven and earth,
as curious shepherds hurry from hillside to manger,
to touch the infant’s head, cupped between
his mother’s hand and her warm breast.

Debra Rienstra

I am a writer, professor, amateur musician, science fiction fan, and lifelong member of the Reformed Christian tribe. I am also the mother of three children old enough now that I can’t tell you exactly where all of them are at the moment. For my day job, I teach early British literature and creative writing at Calvin College, where I have been on the faculty for twenty years and still need to pedal fast to keep (mostly) ahead of smart, feisty undergraduates. I have published three books, over a hundred essays for The Twelve, and numerous articles, poems, and reviews in popular and scholarly contexts. I have a B.A. from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Rutgers.

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