Christmas Story…Expectations…

…a particular story…certain holiday gifts…a life outcome…an answer to a question…
…the birth of a child, even…

Full disclosure: I am a three-decades’-professional storyteller, one who joyfully embraces telling stories of many kinds – secular/traditional, sacred, biblical, personal, humorous, interfaith, intercultural, silly, scary, educational, passionate, deadly serious, frivolous, delightful – and to many kinds of audiences whether secular, faith-based, interfaith. While telling in schools and libraries and churches, festivals and conferences over these 30 years, I also am the holder of a Master of Divinity degree; and while my spiritual “home” is Christianity, I rejoice in the many ways people experience God and express spiritual truths, and know the power of storytelling to celebrate and reach across interfaith and intercultural and sacred/secular boundaries.

At this time of year, my faith tradition shares the Christmas Story. Oh, but sometimes we think we know a story…when maybe we really don’t. Or we expect one thing…but sometimes find another...

Today I share with you two pieces of art I find profound – a poem/piece by Quinn G. Caldwell, and a drawing (scroll down) by Everett Patterson:

If you came to this place expecting a tame story,
you came to the wrong place.

If you came for a story that does not
threaten you,
you came for a different story than the one
we tell.

If you came to hear of the coming of a God
who only showed up so that you could have a
nice day
with your loved ones,
then you came for a God whom we do not
worship here.

For even a regular baby is not a tame thing.
And goodness that cannot threaten complacency
and evil
is not much good at all,
And a God who would choose to give up power
and invincibility
to become an infant for you,
certainly didn’t do it just so you could have dinner.


If you came because you think unwed teenage mothers
are some of the strongest people in the world.

If you came because you think that the kind of people who work third
shift doing stuff you’d rather not do might attract an angel’s
attention before you, snoring comfortably in your bed, would.

If you came because you think there are wise men and women to be
found among undocumented travelers from far lands and
that they might be able to show you God.

If you came to hear a story of tyrants trembling
while heaven comes to peasants.

If you came because you believe that God loves the animals
as much as the people
and so made them the first witnesses to the saving of the world.

If you came for a story of reversals
that might end up reversing you.

If you came for a tale of adventure and bravery,
where strong and gentle people win,
and the powerful and violent go down to dust,
where the rich lose their money but find their lives
and the poor are raised up like kings.

If you came to be reminded that God loves you too much
to leave you unchanged.

If you came to follow the light
even if it blinds you.

If you came for salvation and not safety,
then, ah, my friends,
you are precisely in the right place.

So what are you here for?

Quinn G. Caldwell, All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas 

Jose y Maria – Still No Room

By Everett Patterson – take in all the details…



Thanks for reading – Pam


Featured photo at the top is of the little Nativity Set I have lived with my entire life; it was part of the family before I was; I’m grateful to have inherited it.