A Christmas Prayer for our son Glenn

By Paul Brandeis Raushenbush

When Brad and I first moved into our new apartment with its intentionally spare, simple furnishings and bare walls, we knew we wanted to have a real Christmas tree, adult sized, in the corner of the living room.  Each December since, our living room has sported a tree, maybe 8 feet tall, with a string of lights and a iron star on top.  This year, our son Walter, Brad and I ventured out to our once-a-year tree vendor from Montreal who lives on the corner of our block for the month of December.  We walked around until Walter heard one tree in particular calling to him, lugged it home, and set it up in the corner.

Yet our living room is not spare anymore.  The room is filled with baby swings,  a silky mat with pull strings and bells on an arc above, a makeshift changing table and, in the middle, a crib for our new son Glenn who celebrates his third month birthday just a few days before Christmas.  Glenn, with his light hair and dark eyes that constantly scan for familiar and friendly sights, sometimes averting the face directly in front of him.  Glenn, with the flickering new smile and the warm head that nuzzles his daddy’s neck, forbidding him to put him down.  Glenn, who likes to be in the center of it all, until he doesn’t and, with a bracing cry, let’s us know he needs to be gently left alone, bathing in the light of the tree in the corner.

It is Glenn’s first Christmas.  The presents arranged and rearranged under the tree by his older brother hold no interest to him, the hurried planning and organizing are not his concern, and even cookies, candies and cakes are but faint, future obsessions, as Glenn focuses on the same formula that daily sustains and nourishes his small body.  Christmas changed when Walter came to our house, and it is changed again now that Glenn is here. Nothing is erased, there are only additions as we adjust and make room for another integral piece in the crèche of our home and in our hearts.

With a baby there is only now.  I write this Christmas poem today for Glenn in hopes that the Christmas now, and now and now will add up. I hope that Glenn might read this prayer as he gets older and know that he is blessed and a blessing, now and now and now and forever more.

A Christmas Prayer For Glenn
Glenn, I pray that as you read this prayer you take the time you need to remember, realign and recognize deep in the soft part of your soul how precious your life is and how grateful your parents, your brother and your entire extended family are that you are born.  Christmas is a story about birth – the miraculous, glorious, world-changing birth of Jesus who in the very act of being born – Emmanuel, God with us – is a declaration that you and and every other child around the world who has been born is equally miraculous, glorious and world changing.

Glenn, I pray that you will look at the Christmas story closely and let your heart be moved by Mary’s magnificat and how she said “yes” to the Divine call upon her life, and hear her song of revolution that lifts up the lowly, filling them with good things.  Keep open to what God might call you to do, even if it leads you to far away places, to give birth to something new and loving and wise and radical that can change the world for good.

Glenn, as a baby there is something terribly tender about you – your quivering lower lip, your heart piercing cries, your desire to be held and then put back down. Tender people can be the most tender towards others and I pray that you will always be drawn towards the broken hearted and offer healing and hope in places often forgotten and forsaken but which can emit glory, like a manger that welcomes the stranger, hosting a birth when the inn is full.

Glenn, I pray that the hurt or harm or loss you might experience in the course of your life will never paralyze or cripple your spirit. Let love come, and time heal your heart and joy return to your face. May the flickering smile we see now, fan into a fire that can warm all of our lives.  Look up, see the stars, the moon, the clouds chased by the wind and feel the wonder of ‘Oh Holy Night” come over you, whatever time of year, singing glory, glory, glory.

Glenn, I pray that when you consider the scene around Jesus that you recognize a group of people coming together, some traveling from far, some from just a field away, but who are joined together in love. I pray that you will always be surrounded by love, song, dance and a sacred light that filters through cracks to illuminate any shadows that shroud you.  May you always know that you are part of something grander and more wonderful than we can ever fully grasp.

Dearest Glenn, you will walk along the spiritual path that is calling to you. I pray that Jesus always is one source of wisdom and courage in your journey, and that the time of Christmas might light your spirit it just as it lights up the crib that you lie in as a baby. For as long as you walk this earth (and even after), know that you are loved by your parents, your brother, your cousins and uncles and aunts and all the extended family and friends.  And know that you are part of the Love that we call God, who is love and whose birth into the world we celebrate on Christmas and every day.

Merry Christmas Glenn – 2018.

Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush is Senior Vice President of Auburn Seminary and the Editor of Voices. 

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