A Visit from Nicholas (Or, A Winter Helping of BBQ & Soul Food)

humbly stolen from Clement C. Moore,

since even Jesus said he’d come “like a thief in the night”


‘Twas the night before Advent when all through the church

not a creature was stirring, neither man nor perch.

The blue paraments were hung by Ruth Circle with care

for a season of hope—that Christ soon would be there.

The children had program lines in their heads

while Rena baked batches of Communion bread.

All was proceeding, according to reason,

just as it should for this time of the season.

But before settling down, ah! what was the matter?!

The fuzzy young pastor decided to scatter.

Around stained glass windows you saw a bright flash,

or was it merely a handle-bar moustache?

The moon on the breast of autumn’s fallen leaves

said something was changing here at St. Steve’s,

When, what to your wondering eyes should appear

but a guy on a bike, ped’ling with only one gear.

The scrawny goofball rider was as thin as a stick

and you knew in a moment it must be that Nick.

I called out Bible verses, began to proclaim,

and rapidly shouted out name after name:

“Now! Peter, now! Matthew! now, Mark, Luke and John,

Galatians! Isaiah! And on to the Psalms!

‘Christ has broken down the dividing wall,’

this gospel is good news for one and for all!”

As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,

in the face of bad news make you keep asking, “Why?”

Yet our God knows exactly what to do,

with a chalice of wine—and baptismal water, too.

So it was you heard, though in faith and not proof,

the preaching and praying of your pastor, the goof.

As Amazing Grace was sung, “lost and found,”

down came this Nicholas, your faith to re-ground.

I was dressed in an alb, with Chucks on my feet,

and my mouth rarely tasted e’en a bite of meat.

Sometimes a canoe was up on my back,

others, a Bible I’d pull from my camel sack.

My job is God’s grace, which makes sinners merry

(including in times where we’ve “married and buried”).

My mouth said, “You’re forgiven; that’s where we begin,

I swear by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.”

Once more in these weeks as we’re gathered ‘neath

the candles and greens of our Advent wreath

you’ll hear me proclaim—but not with a bellow,

more like a round of good Lutheran Jell-O—

that is isn’t about fulfilling ourselves

but sharing and caring and offering help.

This is our faith, from Christ our head,

making us know we have nothing to dread.

We speak this word: Our hands, God’s work.

It’s what we’re up to, together as church.

This we believe, ‘mid life’s highs and lows,

for this Jesus was born, he died and he rose.

Before I pedal off into the sunset,

knowing that I am sure not done yet,

you can hear me proclaim, ere I ride to the west,

“I love you a lot, but Christ loves you best!”


+ nick


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