In which my nouns and verbs need to announce Him

In the poem “Salutation,” which references Luke 1:39-45, Luci Shaw writes:

Framed in light,
Mary sings through the doorway.
Elizabeth’s six-month joy
jumps , a palpable greeting,
a hidden first encounter
between son and Son.

And my heart turns over
when I meet Jesus
in you.

I believe that the aspect of Christianity

that dazzles and amazes me most is


Emmanuel is a Hebrew word,

spoken by the prophet Isaiah among others,

that means literally

God with us.

This baffles me,

confuses me,

embraces me

and transforms me.

Never more than now during Advent.

The idea that God is among us is revolutionary to me.

As John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and blood,

and moved into the neighbourhood.

We saw the glory with our own eyes,

the one-of-a-kind glory,

like Father, like Son,

Generous inside and out,

true from start to finish.”

I simply love this – my Jesus, my Word – for more reasons than I can share.

The news to me that God became human like me.

That Jesus is the point.

God became one of us and moved into our neighbourhood,

on our turf.

No longer far off (even though he was near),

no longer separate.

St. Augustine’s familiar words hit the mark,

For You have formed us for Yourself,

and our hearts are restless until we find rest in You.

The human race needs God, the Creator,

because it is built into the very core of

our nature to know Him intimately.

Without Him, we are incomplete,

empty, unfulfilled, restless,

all because we are living life contrary to the purpose

for which we were made. (Dr. Richard P. Bucher)

So there is the Christmas part of that:

the baby in the manager,

cold for the first time?



Just like a tired, cold or weeping humanity.

Eventually laughing,


brilliant and


like a laughing, joyful, brilliant and wise



experiencing pain,

experiencing friendship.

The best and truest human.

I remember hearing once that Jesus was here

not only to save humanity but

to show us what it means to be truly human.

Because he was fully and completely human,

he is our perfect example of revolutionary humanity.

And then there is the other part of Emmanuel:

God is with us now.

Present in these “jars of clay”, our bodies,

we carry the spark of the divine.

So that we are, as Christ-followers,

supposed to be the hands, feet, mouth and heart of Jesus on earth.

The Cradle

For us who have only known approximate fathers

and mothers manque, this child is a surprise:
a sudden coming true of all we hoped
might happen. Hoarded hopes fed by prophecies,
old sermons and song fragments, now cry
coo and gurgle in the cradle, a babbling
proto-language which as soon as it gets
a tongue (and we, of course, grow open ears)

will say the big nouns: joy, glory, peace;

and live the best verbs: love, forgive, save.
Along with the swaddling clothes the words are washed

of every soiling sentiment, scrubbed clean of

all failed promises, then hung in the world’s
backyard dazzling white, billowing gospel.

Eugene H. Peterson

It really humbles me to realise

how little I let Jesus out.

And I don’t mean “evangelising”

(what a horrid word)

or gravely confronting people to ask them

“if you died tonight, where would you end up?”

I mean,

my life

of verbs

and nouns

reflecting Jesus:





Flinging wide open the doors of love to humanity.

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  • Claudia Mair Francis Burney