A surprise the first time – poem

And who’s to say
that Christ won’t come again 
in a body 
in that body 
the one we’ve gotten used to 
the one we have seen in paintings 
and pictures 
but not photographs 
but instead of being born again unto a virgin 
in a cowshed 
or descending out of the sky 
the Christ 
the anointed one 
comes again 
for the first time 
into your heart?

I mean 
it was a surprise the first time 
even then, 
over 2000 years ago. 
They expected a king. 
They expected someone to lead them out 
of slavery to the foreign army 
to lead them back 
to who they really were 
as people 
chosen by God. 

Instead they got this guy
born illegitimately 
born in poverty 
raised in a nowhere backward town 
who spoke of a different kind of 
freedom, a different kind of return 
to who they were. 
It wasn’t a revolution 
it wasn’t a rebellion. 
He didn’t come to be a king
but to point them back 
to the only King 
they ever needed.

He wanted to lead them out
of slavery 
not to the Romans 
but thinking anybody 
was over them 
other than God.

Why can’t it be that
surprising again?

Why can’t it be that 
the second coming 
doesn’t happen 
in the Holy Land 
but in your heart 
right where you are 
right as you are 
right now?


Stephen Gaskin was the founder of The Farm, an intentional community near Summertown, Tennessee. Before the commune was settled, he embarked on a speaking tour of America to talk about peace. His goal was to wake people up to a healthier way to be together as a society, a nation, and a global community.
He regularly allowed people to ask questions as part of the talks. Occasionally, some of the questioners had issue with him referring to Jesus. Most people who are considered countercultural don’t talk about Jesus at all, and Stephen did. He said that the Sermon on the Mount was the finest example of a guideline for how people can live together in harmony.
In his book “The Caravan”, he talks about Jesus as the Redeemer. In the usual Christian sense, this means that Jesus covers your sins for you. He pays that bill, so you don’t have to. But Stephen took it in a different direction. He said that in order to have a Redeemer, you have to have a Deemer. A Deemer is someone who deems – who makes a judgment as to whether something is good or not. Deemers separate and divide.
A Redeemer comes after that and makes things right. Redeemers make things whole again, by showing the value in all people. Redeemers point out that God made everyone, and God made everyone good. Redeemers reset us by seeing us as we were originally designed to be – whole, complete, and pure.
Additionally – not something said by Stephen but an extension of this thought – this is how Jesus was able to heal people instantly. He saw them as they were designed to be, before they were damaged by the world. Instead of seeing people as sinners, he saw them as Children of God. He didn’t heal them through any special power. He healed them by unlocking the power that God had put in them from the very beginning. He unlocked it by reminding them of it when he saw through their mask of sin to the person beneath.
The most radical part of this is that Jesus tells us that we have this same ability. We can heal the world by choosing to see people as Children of God. No longer dividing them into “good” and “bad” – but simply as people. We too can redeem the world, with Jesus’ help.

Are you ready?

People are asking me one question right now. It is the same question they always ask this time of year. “Are you ready for Christmas?”

Are we ever? Really? Even if you’ve cleaned your house to the impossible standards of your mother in law, even if you’ve bought every relative and friend a present (or two), you aren’t ready.

You aren’t ready for Christmas, and you won’t ever be, and that is just fine.

Even if you think you are ready, there will always be something you missed. There will always be something that you forgot to do or a present you forgot to buy. Someone will always show up that you didn’t prepare for, and something will always happen that you weren’t ready for.

That’s part of Christmas.

We aren’t ever ready for Christmas, because we aren’t ever ready for Christ.

Christ is always more than we can handle, and always exactly what we need. Christ is the cup spilling over, an extra blanket on the bed, a second helping of your favorite meal, a friend there even before you pick up the phone. Whatever you have, Jesus has more of it and is giving it to you, with no questions asked.

And you can’t ever repay it. And that is OK.

You don’t have to pay it back. You have to pay it forward.

You pay it forward by being kind, by giving, by forgiving. You pay it forward by smiling at a stranger. You pay it forward by tipping the harried server extra at the buffet. You pay it forward by letting someone cut in line while in traffic.

The real meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with presents, and everything to do with presence.

It has to do with being real, and being kind, and being awake to the moment. Every moment is Christmas – every moment is a chance to serve Christ by being Christ to someone else.

So are you ready for Christmas? I’m not. And that is OK.

Christmas washes over you and pulls you down. You start to drown, your arm up, waving, begging for help. There you go, down for the count, and Jesus steps in.

Drop everything. Drop all your plans. Don’t buy a thing for Christmas. Don’t wrap anything.

Christmas isn’t about the gifts you give. It never was.

Christmas is about the amazing gift you get. You get God, right here, with you. You get God every day, in your heart, loving you – yes you – right now, as you are.

Are you ready?