Written on internship in Milwaukee, 2014.
“Here am I, the servant of the Lord”
The words echo in the huge sanctuary
On a Thursday at noon.
It is food pantry day.
Up front sits the man who
Does not speak in full sentences,
Behind him sits the proud mother,
To the side, a man new to the neighborhood,
And back to the left, the Italian who always says,
“BE-A MY GUEST!” and flings his arms wide open
When he says it. Many filter in late to hear
Mary, the unsuspecting,
Has just learned she is to have a baby.
And not just any baby, but the baby
Who will change
“Who wants to change the world?”
Every person raises their hands,
Even the child sitting with his mother,
Who later gives the pastor a high-five
During the peace.
“How will you do it?
How can we do it?
How do we bring hope
To a broken world?”
Mary, who is
Perplexed by the greeting:
“The Lord is with you”
Thinks “wait…me? I’m not
Special. I am not favored…how
Can you mean me? How can this be?
Bear the child whose kingdom will
Have no end?”
In the gathered congregation,
Leaning forward expectantly,
One woman looks at the preacher,
“Has anyone ever told you that
They believed in you?”
The young, slim woman shakes her head
“But how did Mary do it? How did she have
The courage to say, “Here am I. . .Let it be with me
According to your word” ?’
How can we change the world? How can someone
In this desperate
But you are the one.
“How can this be, since I am still—”
How can this be?
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you
And the power of the Most High will
You, favored one, have been given gifts in order to bear
The Christ child
Into this terrible mess. For the Lord is with you.
You are the one who will bring Christ
To the world. And you will be strengthened
After the peace was shared
And the bread was broken,
The congregation departed to receive their
The young woman who had shaken
Her head when asked “has anyone ever
Told you they believed in you?”
Was gathering up her things.
Slowly, the pastor approaches her, scared, but
The words come out anyway.
“I saw you shake your head during the message,
That no one has ever said they believe in you.
I want you to know that I believe in you.
The Holy Spirit is with you.”
The woman looks at me,
And replying without words,
opens her arms wide.