Little eyes

(Photo: Irene Bom)

As we bring this month’s theme to a close, a very short story about a three-year old with a seasonal application and a prayer for children.

My father was once walking on the beach with his three-year old grandson when the little boy stopped, picked up a tiny fragment of a seashell, and began to examine it. My father bent down and, looking at the tiny fragment, he asked the boy, ‘How could you see such a tiny shell?’ ‘Because,’ said the boy, ‘I have little eyes.’

That is what we need at Christmas – little eyes – so that we may see, in a way we have never seen before, the wonder that lies in Bethlehem.

from To Taste and See, Exploring Incarnation and the Ambiguities of Faith by Thomas Mann, (p.52)

A prayer

Lord Christ,
we bring before you the world of children.
We bring their openness and friendliness,
their sense of enquiry and creativity.
Forgive our readiness to classify and divide,
to label and separate.
Forgive our voices of experience,
and our demand for their conformity.
Help us to understand and encourage them,
that their spirits may be lifted,
their imaginations quickened,
and their vision broadened,
for your world’s sake.

by J. Dickson Pope (adapted)
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #409

From the blog
Theme: Still small voice  [prayer sheet]
God loves stories
Light on my path

It’s a boy

(Photo: Irene Bom)

A Christmas greeting in the form of a song, recorded with my friend, Margriet, on backing vocals and percussion. You’re welcome to sing along.


by Irene Bom

1. Sing a song, a song of joy
Come along to see the boy
A baby boy who from heaven came
Emmanuel, Emmanuel is His Name

Emmanuel – God is with us
Emmanuel – God is with us
Emmanuel – God is with us
God is with us – Emmanuel

2. Shepherds heard the angels sing
Bringing news of a baby king
So they went without delay
To see the baby in a manger where he lay

(Repeat chorus)

3. Wise men came from afar
They were led by a star
They brought him gifts, gifts of joy
Gold and myrrh and frankincense for the boy

(Repeat chorus)

Extra Extra
Musical notation for Emmanuel.
More Christmas songs for all ages.

Joseph and Mary: A Poem


I wrote this poem in 2007, during my third year of training for the ministry. I probably wrote it in transit, on the train to or from my day job as a software developer.

The poem is a conversation between Mary and Joseph as he grapples with the implications of her decision to say yes to God’s plan.

I do hope, like Mary, you find support from the significant others in your life when you say yes to God’s plan for you. We cannot do it alone.


Joseph and Mary

by Irene Bom

How could you agree
When there’s so much at stake?

My-beloved-is-mine potentially,
Reckless it may be,
But the risk is mine to take.

Are you insane, Mary?
What did the angel say to sway you?

Such wisdom, it’s agony.
I glimpsed the future briefly.
He said dreams are coming true.

What am I to do, tell me?
I had my hopes pinned on a quiet life.

I don’t determine your destiny,
But the load is heavy.
It would be easier to carry if I’m your wife.

Your mind is clearly
Made up, and I have no say.

I’m dazzled, I’m dazed, I can see
I’m an embryonic community.
Join us, embrace the future. Stay.

From the blog
Prepare = action
God loves stories
Theme: Called into community  [prayer sheet]

In the darkness

The view from my kitchen balcony  (Photo: Irene Bom)


A reflection on blessed darkness, including the darkness of the womb where “the Christ-child was made ready for the journey into light”.

Advent in the dark

We wait in the darkness,
expectantly, longingly, anxiously, thoughtfully.

The darkness is our friend.

In the darkness of the womb,
we have all been nurtured and protected.

In the darkness of the womb
the Christ-child was made ready for the journey into light.

It is only in the darkness
that we can see the splendour of the universe –
blankets of stars, the solitary glowings of the planets.

It was the darkness that allowed the Magi to find the star
that guided them to where the Christ-child lay.

In the darkness of the night,
desert people find relief from the cruel relentless heat of the sun.

In the blessed desert darkness
Mary and Joseph were able to flee with the infant Jesus
to safety in Egypt.

In the darkness of sleep,
we are soothed and restored, healed and renewed.

In the darkness of sleep, dreams rise up.
God spoke to Joseph and the wise men through dreams.
God is speaking still.

Sometimes in the solitude of the darkness
our fears and concerns, our hopes and visions
rise to the surface.
We come face to face with ourselves
and with the road that lies ahead of us.
And in that same darkness
we find companionship for the journey.

In that same darkness
we sometimes allow ourselves to wonder and worry
whether the human race is going to survive.

And then, in the darkness
we know that you are with us, O God,
yet still we await your coming.

In the darkness that contains both our hopelessness and our hope,
we watch for a sign of God’s hope.

For you are with us, O God,
in darkness and in light.

~ from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand (abridged). Posted by James Hawes, on Sunday Papers.

From the blog
In a new light
Sister moon
3 Prayers while waiting

Parental love

“I cannot forget him out of my mind,” an Afghani student said in a BBC World Service news report recently. The mix-up of ‘get’ and ‘forget’ means now I can’t forget this young man out of my mind.

In Isaiah 49:15-16 God says to his people who feel forsaken, forgotten:

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Here is a video by the Bible Project on the character of God, focussing in particular on his COMPASSION. Parental love is a recurring image throughout the video.


Great Caregiver Prayer

When we entered this world as tiny babies,
you gave us caregivers,
who watched and waited on us,
who fed and clothed us,
who taught us how to live.
We pause in this moment of silence to give our own thanks
for one special person who has changed our life:
For their work, and their love which has shaped us,
we give you thanks!

We pray today for caregivers;
mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers,
aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters and cousins,
neighbours and family friends,
all who care for children.
Give us the wisdom we need to do this work!
Open our ears and eyes to the real needs of those in our charge;
open our hearts and hands to meet these needs.
Give us endurance, and patience and hope,
and above all compassion,
treating each child as we would want to be treated.

You know us, God;
you know that there are places where we have failed as caregivers;
we also need your help to mend broken or strained relationships,
we need forgiveness, we need closure.
Grant us peace in our relationships.

Our prayers are also directed today for caregivers
around the world who face special challenges;
for those many caregivers
who are caring for orphans from the tragedy of AIDS;
for caregivers who are without food,
walking long distances with children in their arms;
for caregivers in war-torn countries who are trying desperately
to protect their children from bombs and guns.
So many dangers in this world, Lord,
and you know them all.
Bring peace to our troubled times,
justice for those who are oppressed,
hope to those who are hopeless.

God, you love us with a father’s love,
you care for us more tenderly than any mother,
you are the Great Caregiver.
Help us this week to be aware of your love,
your gaze upon us,
encouraging us, sustaining us,
directing us.

~ written by Carol Penner, and posted on Leading in Worship.