Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
- Christina Rossetti, from Time Flies: A Reading Diary (1885)
‘Twas getting toward Christmas, eleven days out.
The church door opened, and a man gave a shout-
A friendly blast of holiday cheer-
Which gave me to know there was nothing to fear.
Rounding the corner, I saw it was Darryl:
He told me he’d come, and he didn’t fail !
A happy embrace at the top of the stairs-
We hadn’t hugged in a couple of years.
A brown paper bag he held out to me:
No need to ask, for I knew what I’d see:
Small wooden crosses, shaped to be gripped,
Clutched between fingers, not likely to slip
When somebody needed to feel that the Lord
Is present to comfort and hear every word
That comes from the Spirit, in joy or in loss:
Solid reminders of Jesus’ cross.
As from the bag each cross I drew,
Darryl told me things that only he knew.
One from an apple tree was made,
From the yard of a lady for whom we’d once prayed.
She had passed away in grace:
That cross reminded Darryl of her dear face.
Others were fashioned of cherry and locust,
Walnut and oak; but then I focused
On two that bore the scent of cedar,
And one I found hard to believe, Dear Reader:
Mahogany ! Dark and lovely grain,
Milled until only the cross remained.
Darryl told me again of his prayer
That God would guide each cross to where
Someone would hold onto it and be blessed,
Whether in happy times or distress.
At times, Darryl makes a whole bunch in his shop;
Then he gives them away, when God tells him to stop
And share the love of Christ in this form.
He gets a nudge so he knows that he’s warm-
That this is a person with whom he should share
A sign of God’s unconditional care.
Some, they give out at the church he attends,
But others he packs up in boxes and sends
To Nancy and me, and to others he’s felt led
To “deputize,” to help him shed
The light of Christ’s cross beyond words and deeds.
Maybe you know of somebody who needs
A cross to hold ? Just let me know.
Christmas doesn’t depend on new-fallen snow
Or high-flying reindeer or lively old elves,
But on servants of Jesus not unlike ourselves.
If God could use Mary to bring Love to birth,
Probably God can show you your true worth
As an agent of mercy and kindness and hope
Like Darryl, even if you don’t think you can cope
With power tools, lumber, sandpaper and lacquer-
Maybe God wants you to be a box-packer,
Or maybe a caller, or a sender of cards….
For nothing God wants us to do is TOO hard,
Because God equips us and shows us the way
And even provides us with right things to say.
As I heard Darryl exclaim, as he walked out of sight,
“God bless you-all !” Thank God that he’s right.