The Struggle for Redemption

The Struggle for Redemption

People asked for the poem, “The Struggle for Redemption,”  on the traditional Nine Lessons that we used stanza by stanza in the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.

It is one single poem, even though in the service on Christmas Eve, it was read, alternating, by the pastor and congregation, in separate stanzas, paired with the texts they reference. It is in part about how sacrifice is always a part of our human experience, and how in love, sacrifice becomes holy and can be redemptive. 

Here it is, tidied up a bit (in the space and perspective that happens after the Christmas crush!)  


  1. The Cost of Our Irresponsibility (Genesis 3:8-19) 

Sweat on our brow.

Dirt on our hands.

Hard labor in birth and work. 


Thorns and thistles prick and sting,

like death from a serpent’s tongue,

Our lot on earth

til we return to the ground, 

ashes and dust.


  1. Paying Our Debt (Genesis 22:15-18)

Sacrifice to save ourselves? 

The death of children appeasing the Divine?


Grace always delivers an alternative –

ram caught in thicket,

wool held by thorns. 


Animals as scapegoats 

for our sins.


  1. God’s Plan (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7) 

In hard labor

and childbirth  

– from the darkness – 

a light begins to shine. 


Bringing peace and goodwill, 

this child

will usher in justice and righteousness 

without end and without measure.


  1. Messianic Kingdom (Isaiah 11: 1-3a; 4a, 6-9)

A child leading followers

toward reconciliation:


From nature red in tooth and claw 

to co-existence, shalom. 

Carnivores to herbivores,

drawing the sting

from the serpent’s tongue.


  1. God’s Co-conspirators (Luke 1: 26-35; 38)

God’s choosing

shown in  the Spirit’s overshadowing.


A virgin birth

subverting patriarchy —

birth of a first born son

who will neither marry

nor have blood offspring.


Human agency saying ‘yes’ to God, 

opening a new way, 

Kingdom-community greater than kin. 


  1. Making Room on Earth for Heaven (Luke 2:1, 3-7)

No place in our world 

for the Lord of life and Prince of peace.


Squeezed in among animals kept for human needs,

 animal sacrifices

for humans’ daily existence and eternal forgiveness. 


Born poor —

the struggle for survival from the start

that one day this child will redeem.


  1. High and Low (Luke 28-160 )

Angels announcing 

peace and goodwill 

rendered in a child 

found by night workers, 


lying in a feed trough.


The new mother

 – dead tired – 

ponders eternal mysteries

— prophecy, epiphany, new birth  –

in her young heart.


  1. Paradox (Matthew 1:1-120 

Star struck yet wise,

seeking a prince

in a place proud with power and opulence,

but finding him in humble obscurity, yet exposed.   


Giving that prefigures 

his divinity and sacrifice – 

a servant King

who, in birth and death, 

gives life for others. 


  1. God At Work In the World (John 1:1-5, 9-14) 

Creative word

called into being, enfleshed. 


Divine life flowing

in and through the child.


Divine light exposing

our self-serving demand for power


Divine love birthing

A new way, a way of compassion.