I wrote this poem for our church’s Christmas Eve gathering. The inspiration for this poem came while changing my son’s diaper. As Titus and I exchanged smiles that night, I pondered what it would have been like to be Joseph looking at his baby boy Jesus. As a father, I often feel inadequate to raise my children. I cannot imagine the helplessness Joseph must have felt knowing he was called to raise the Son of God! This poem is my simple effort to begin imagining, to live inside a few precious moments, late at night, after a hard day’s work, when daddy Joseph adoringly stares at his boy Jesus.

It’s my prayer that this little poetic reflection on the reality of the Incarnation moves you, not to worship Joseph, but to worship Jesus—the real, historic, flesh-and-blood Jesus who started out on this earth like the rest of us do.

Merry Christmas and thanks for reading,
James

“Hands”

Open on your mother’s chest
or after a bellowing belch.
Taut when you’re tired.
Slurp slurp, tick tick,
your tongue tackles
each knuckle and cuticle.
Somehow that helps you fade
away to never-never-land.
Mine are calloused, crusty, tired.
Splinters are their wages.
Blue veins bursting.
Palm lines peeling.
Bleeding.
Grab the balm and bandage.
I’ll too visit never-never-land soon,
only after watching you there now.
For a moment I remember
the memories we will make.
Brush and comb. Throw and catch.
Shave and wash. Swing and saw.
Eat and write. Push and pull.
Mine will train yours?
That baffles me.
Yours built clouds and stars,
birds and seas.
Mine build yokes and stools,
locks and keys.
Yours rest so peaceful,
so perfect, so calm in your crib.
I reach in. A twitch.
Yours clutch mine
with a tiny might.
I worry one day you’ll be
ashamed to do the same.
Frail, weak, scarred mine are.
Made from and destined for dust.
Yet yours now
fit in mine.

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