The ax at the root

         Bear fruits worthy of repentance.
         … Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees;
         every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit
         is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

                        —Luke 3.8, 9

How can this be Christmas, the ax at the root?
Where are the lovely things,
the sheep and stars and frankincense?

Wake up. Christmas is meant to change us.
There is no comfort without engagement,
no good news without strings attached.

God, help me not skim through Christmas.
Beloved, let me be changed.
I yield myself to you,

to prune what you will,
to feed what you will,
to harvest what you will.

I surrender myself to your pruning,
the ax at the root of my desires,
your spade in the soil of my deepest longings.

I accept the gift of what is taken from me:
habits that harm, my heart's diversions,
my shield from the world's pain.

Let the coming of Christ be the flowing
of your sap up into my being,
into fruits of presence and justice and love.

Baptize me with the fire of your indwelling.
Pregnant with Christ, may I bear the fruit
of your new creation in me.

   —December 10, 2018