Hope in a Manger~Advent Poem Week 1


In a barren land
from the root of Jesse
Hope rises.
A shoot to strong branch
to execute justice and righteousness
Behold, Immanuel
God with us.
Born of a virgin
Who would believe
the lame would walk
the blind would see
deaf hear and captives set free?
Israel’s consolation
Our eternal redemption.
Hope wrapped in swaddling cloths
Lying in a manger
As the angels praised God.
As the angels praised God.

As we begin the season of Advent may we be filled with the eager expectation that Christ, born in a lowly manger,  is one day returning.  In our barren places may we put our trust in the One who came to save us. Holy Spirit, help us to abound in hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. -Romans 15:13

A Grandpa Christmas

Sis with Grandpa

Christmas 1979: My Sister and Grandpa

In the mid 70s, when every day was #Shoplocal in our small hometown of Benton, Illinois, Star Best, P.N. Hirsch and Woolworth’s were the stores of choice. Today’s Amazon arrived in the hands of excited children, like me, in the form of a Sears Roebuck or JC Penny catalog. As I lay on my grandpa’s family room floor, the colorful, sleek pages were earmarked with the hope that Santa would deliver my much-desired Mrs. Beasley doll.

My grandpa, a hard-working coal miner, loved Christmas. Each year he would give my mom one hundred dollars to spend on my grandmother at Star Best, an exclusive boutique on the square. My mom and grandmother would set aside a Saturday to drive up to Mt. Vernon and begin their holiday shopping. I was included. If they were going to Woolworth’s Department Store, they were not going without me. I loved walking through the store and seeing all the different items they had. The best part, if I behaved myself, was the grilled cheese and strawberry shake I would get at their restaurant for lunch. Mom and grandma always had to rush their shopping. If we were not back by two in the afternoon, Grandpa would be pacing the floor and looking out the window until we returned.

Packages from Sears and JC Penny would arrive in the mail, hidden in closets, to be wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree. Finally, Christmas day would arrive! We each took a turn opening a package. After all the packages were opened, Grandpa would say, with a beaming grin, something like: “Now, I’m sure I saw something in the basement that Santa couldn’t put up here. Let me check.” Up from the basement he would come with a shiny new bike or some other big gift we had asked for. Grandpa also used the department store catalogs to put money in. My sister and I would go page by page to find one-dollar bills, fifty to sometimes one hundred total, hidden in their pages. Grandpa was never very affectionate, but after all the gifts were opened, my sister and I would give him a quick kiss on his shiny balding head. He never made a response, but I think he secretly liked the attention.

We each had stockings with our names on them. My grandpa did the Christmas socks even for the adults. We would open them last. The contained candy, Cracker Jacks and little gifts. My grandpa liked to play jokes. One year he put coal in my sister’s sock. “Were you not a good girl this year?” he asked her. She started crying. Grinning he said, “Wait. Santa made a mistake. Here’s your sock.” He would pull her real sock out from behind a hiding place.

Time changes things. Star Best, P.N. Hirsch and Woolworth’s are gone. Grandpa passed away several years ago. With his passing, Christmas was no longer the same. The beaming smile was no longer seen pulling gifts out of the basement. His laughter as a jokester no longer heard. You see, Christmas was never about the gifts, but about the person, my grandpa, who gave them out with such joy.

Hope Sees

Hope Sees Faith Believes

Hope sees through
the dark tunnel
a glimpse of light.
It moves forward
through the hurt
knowing it is one more day
one hour
one minute
to the light.
Hope expects deliverance.

Hope sees beyond
the wing-wounded eagle
new strength.
It perseveres
through the pain
knowing it is one more day
one hour
one minute
to taking flight.
Hope expects healing.

Hope embraces faith.
Hope sees. Faith believes.