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Bow down or Stand tall

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A poet once imagined that
the shepherds at Bethlehem
undoubtedly taught the three
Oriental kings how to kneel

at the manger.  I think not!
Those kings were wise ones
who surely would have known
courtly ways and manners.

I propose that the shepherds,
surprised by angel song
and curious beyond belief,
sought out the manger

where the babe was cradled –
Mary and Joseph standing by.
Instead of kneeling down, they
probably asked to pick him up

then held him to their hearts,
caring not a whit in that smelly
shed about their burlap shirts
or the animals that milled about.

The other seekers, royally robed,
guided by prophecy and a star
to places yet unknown, were eager
to bow low and present the gifts

they’d brought to the infant king.
They knelt in the royal presence.
The humble shepherds stood tall
for they’d been favoured by angels.

—Ruth Naylor is a retired pastor, ordained in Mennonite Church USA, who works as a spiritual director. She has taught English and creative writing, and has published numerous poems and several articles. 

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1 comment

Katie Deneiko December 10, 2013 - 12:20

Of course, the magi were never there with the shepherds when Christ was first born, so it is a bit of a moot point! They did not arrive until much later. Plus, they probably were not kings. I understand nostalgia, but do we as a denomination really need to cling to this fantasy when we have the truth of Scripture?


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