Advent Reflection #20: Matthew 1 & Luci Shaw

I’ve been preaching from Matthew 1 during Advent, and tomorrow I wrap up by looking at the meaning and relationship of the two names given to the Lord in the chapter:  “Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) and “Immanuel (which means God with us)” (Matthew 1:23).

Thinking about the names of our Lord has set me to thinking about Treebeard’s observation regarding names in The Two Towers:  “My name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story.  Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to.”

I’ve been greatly helped (again!) by Luci Shaw’s reflections on the Incarnation in her poem, “Breath,” which is the reflection quote I selected for tomorrow’s bulletin and which I set out below.  I pray it will prove an accelerant for your own reflections and worship.


When, in the cavern darkness, Jesus

opened his small, bleating mouth (even before

his eyes widened to the supple world his

lungs had sighed into being), did he intuit

how hungrily the lungs gasp?  Did he begin, then,

to love the way air sighs as it brushes in and out

through the portals of tissue to sustain

the tiny heart’s iambic beating?  And how,

fueled by air, the dazzling blood tramps

the crossroads of the brain like donkey tracks,

corpuscles skittering to the earlobes and toenails?


Bottle of the breath of God, speaking in stories,

shouting across wild, obedient water, his voice

was stoppered only by inquisition, unfaith

and anguish.  Did he know that he would,

in the end, leak all his blood, heave a final

groan and throw his breath,

oxygen for the world, back to its Source

before the next dark cave?

Luci Shaw

Accompanied by Angels:  Poems of the Incarnation

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2 thoughts on “Advent Reflection #20: Matthew 1 & Luci Shaw

  1. Uncle Tree says:

    Thanks to you, Luci Shaw has a new admirer.
    Poignant, and thought-provoking, her words
    paint pictures that pain me, but glorify the Lord.

    Amen! And, I wish you a Merry Christmas! 🙂
    May peace and joy abound in your life – daily.

    Truly, Uncle Tree

  2. Mike Francis says:

    Thanks, Uncle! So glad you’ve enjoyed Luci’s poetry. She helps me see and think about things I would never get to on my own. And I’m always the better for it.

    Merry Christmas to you, too, my cyber friend!

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