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A Prayer for Christmas Eve

By December 23, 2016 13 Comments

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 and literature professor, teaching literature and creative writing at Calvin University, where I have been on the faculty since 1996. Born and bred in the Reformed tradition, I’ve been unable to resist writing four books about theological topics: beware the writer doing theology without a license. My most recent book is Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth (Fortress, 2022). Besides the books, I’ve written well over two hundred essays for the RJ blog as well as 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. I am married to Rev. Dr. Ron Rienstra, and together we have three grown children. Besides reading and writing, I love classical music, science fiction, fussing in the yard, hiking, and teaching myself useful skills like plant identification and—maybe someday—drywall repair.


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