by Rev. Art C. Morgan
edited by Linda Morgan Conner
Copyright © 1981 by Arthur C. Morgan
and Moment Ministries Publications
How much does love weigh?

I asked the question
     at the Post Office.

A little boy
     tip-toe pushed
     a package to the counter.

A postal lady took it
     and set it on the scales
     and marked the weight.

The boy watched carefully
     as the package vanished
     to the great beyond.

Anyone could see
     he had an investment
     in that package.

Some grandma or uncle
     would soon unwrap it
     with a knowing smile.

How much does love weigh?
     and how much
     does it cost?

You might get an idea
     if you ask a child
     at Christmas.

"Excuse my ignorance...
      but what's this advent business?
      You preachers have strange names
      for everything."

I couldn't blame him...
      After all...we don't hand out
      dictionaries of church language.

Let's try to be plain...
      (I mean as plain as preachers ever
      manage to get)
      What do we mean by advent?

Actually...advent is simply the
      "season of expectancy" which
      proceeds Christmas.

Now...for my money
      the "season of expectancy" is the
      very best part.
      We think we're too old for the spirit
      to "get us"...
      but somewhere along the way
      we catch the glow.

Sure...Christmas is too commercial.
      But for us it's more,
      We know its secret meaning...
            the hidden meaning...
            the meaning most people miss.

So for the next four Sundays
      we'll celebrate advent...
      (special music, lighting candles, drama)

Don't you dare miss the wonderful
      "season of anticipation" 
      "Behold, I bring you good news of
      a great joy which will come to all
      the people."        Nov. 25, 1963

Joe McHenry called...
     which means one thing.
     A funeral.

This one at the beginning
     of pre-Christmas hope.

The world's already dark
     with hunger and hostages
     as well as death.

Now Advent promises light
     "to those who
     sit in darkness
     and in the shadow
     of death."

Easier to say while
     lighting church candles
     than beside a grave.

Christmas will be
     sorely tested
     to keep its promises.

We're about ready
     for a season that's
     not afraid of the dark.
                 Nov. 28, 1979

"I can't think of a thing
     he needs!"
     A woman trying to do
     Christmas shopping.

A common problem
     in an affluent age.
     You might call it the
     My gift...he already has one!

And if he doesn't have it...
     will he want it?
     will he use it?
     will he be satisfied?

The problem of our time...
     spending more and more
     to be satisfied
     less and less.

Time for a good look at
     Isaiah's old question...
     (Isaiah 55, that is)

I quote:
     "Why do you spend you money
     for that which is not bread,
     and your labor for that which
     does not satisfy?"

Ask yourself that this Christmas!
     It's a good question.
                                                   Dec. 7, 1966

"What can I get
       for stocking-stuffers?"

I suggested


First —
       so many use them...
       more than other drugs.

Second —
       they fit the season...
       "Peace on earth."

Third —
       they fulfill a carol...
       "Sleep in heavenly peace."

Ironic how we use pills
       to get the promises
       Christmas gives.

Maybe if we really
       kept Christmas
       we could forget pills.

I followed him into the sanctuary...
    he wanted to show me something.

I wondered what I'd done wrong now...
    as he led me to the Christmas tree.

"How long have you been here?"

I admitted to 7 Christmases...
    wondering what was coming next.

"Look what's been happening
    while you've been preaching."

I tried to see what he saw...
    be he finally had to explain.

He began counting...
    growth seasons...
    seven of them.

"While you've been preaching here
    this tree has been out there
    growing 16 feet."

That's amazing and humbling...
    to realize how growth goes on
    without noise or fuss
    or benefit of preaching.
                      Dec. 28, 1976

No straw for our manger!
     (Surely that says something...
     But I'm not certain what.)

We have to go miles to get it.

Maybe mangers are out of style.
     Or maybe cows don't eat hay
     Or maybe something else.

The something else is what gets
     you. The fact is...the farm
     is moving away from the city.

The green pastures have been
     The barn was replaced by
     a new gas station.
     The watering trough was re-
     placed by a swimming pool.

And there is no straw.

I've been wondering whether
     there is any connection between
     religious indifference in the
     and the fact that you have to
     go a long, long way
     to get straw for a manger.
                         Dec. 7, 1966
                         Huntington Park, CA

The CIA should take note of
      Might learn something.

How to overthrow a king...
      a government
      a world.

Not with poison
      or explosive device
      or long-range sniper bullet.

Christmas demonstrates
      that tyranny is completely
      by justice and truth
      in human flesh.

It could be a new day
      for the CIA
      and the whole world
      if people could believe
      in Christmas again.
                       Nov. 25, 1975

A baby in a bird's nest!

A new Nativity idea
      (At Descanso Garden's
      Christmas House.)

"Isn't that sweet?"

I didn't feel that poetic.
      People are superstitious
      I can see the next pageant:
            "hallelujah! He is hatched."

In adoring the Christ
      let's not forget His down-to-earth
      "She gave birth to her first born
      son...and laid him in a manger."

Born...not hatched!
      Thank God.
                       Dec. 14, 1966
                       Huntington Park, CA

No, Virginia...
      not everyone believes
      Jesus became God's son
      at His birth.

I know it's not popular...
      will never sell...
      but it's nevertheless believed
      (by Mar, for one)...
      Jesus is Lord at His baptism.
So I tried a Mark-faith carol...
      to the tune of Silent Night:
      "Beautiful day, sun-filled day
      All is calm, as we pray,
      As they gather `round Jesus and John,
      While they go to the water down,
      Jesus Lord at Thy baptism,
      Jesus Lord at Thy baptism.
      Beautiful day, sun-filled day,
      Hushed the crowd, as He accepts
            God's way.
      Slowly dipped into the river's flow,
      Hearing God's words for Him to know.
      Jesus Lord at Thy baptism,
      Jesus Lord at Thy baptism."

But it will never sell...
      though it means the same thing...
      that Love has appeared in flesh
      and we have beheld Him.
                       December, 1974

"Did the wise men
      really come from

My suggestion upset
      the dreamy acceptance
      of the old story.

It's not a great year
      for thinking good
      about Iranians.

More ironic
      is Matthew's claim
      of what they did.

Iranian magi star-trackers
      found and worshipped
      the Jewish messiah.

Maybe, no wonder,
      the Jews reject
      an Arab-found messiah.

Anyway, it helps remind us
      of a Christmas hope
      that nobody's all bad.
                        December, 1979

I stood in a cave
    in Bethlehem...
    a star inlaid in the floor.

They tell you
    it's the very spot
    where Jesus was born.

No doubt he was born
    but likely not there.

Few really care to debate
    the legendary poetry
    of Christmas faith.

What remains true
    is not the story
    but the faith.

Any cave deserves a star
    if common faith
    sees the holy in life.

You don't have to be
    Christian or believer
    to revere a Jewish child.

You only have to let go
    of blinding intellect
    to see with eyes of wonder.

I never worried
or argued about
the virgin birth.

In fact, things like that
almost ended
my faith.

I was glad to discover
that even the Bible
doesn't believe in
a no-father birth.

Jesus was "miracled"
into the world 
like every other child.

Which is a holy thought...
that human flesh
could be like Jesus.

People argue
that such a view
is not biblical.

I argue that to argue
makes dogma
out of mystery.

Love coming to life
in human beings
is an eternal wonder.

I thought we'd blown it.
     I had intoned reverently—
     "The light shines in the
     and the darkness has not
     overcome it."

The candle-lighter progressed
     all a-grin.
     The light still shineth.

     a flicker
     and frantic clouded
     youthful eyes.
     He halted...eying the spark
     on the wick.
     The darkness cometh.

But no...
     The spark became flame
     while he paused
     And a humbled candle-lighter
     made a candle glow.

He paused to let glow
     what hurry
     had nearly put out.
     "The light shines in the
     when you hurry slowly.
                       Dec. 4, 1968

She was angelic...
      (for a nine-year-old).
      Carefully going down the
      to light the first
      Advent Candle.

She touched the candle...
      Gasps and whispers!
      The candle did not light.

What now?
      No light.
      The choir coming in.
      She must be mortified.

But following the maroon-
      robed choir...
      a small white-robed figure.
      Candle-lighter in hand.
      She would try again.

This time...success.
      We were all happy.
      Our Christmas candle was

Millions will make a passing
      effort to put the light of
      Christ in Christmas...
      Maybe one try...but no more.
      Hopefully some will be like
      our candle-lighter...
      try again and again
      until the true Christmas light
      really shines.
                        Nov. 30, 1966

The carolers got caroled.

There were a dozen car-loads
      full of young and adults...
      out to merry the Christmas
      of a dozen households or so.

With candle-glowing faces
      and spirited voices
      they sang toward houses
      and rest homes
      and a special third floor
      hospital room.

But at one place
      the carolers got caroled
      by a former caroler
      who would if she could...
      but she can't
      because she can't get
      to an audience.

But the audience came near
      to her wheel-chaired voice...
      and once again she caroled
      an impressed bunch of carolers.

It was an example of what
      we're supposed to do at Christmas
      "And the whole world
      sent back the song
      which now the angels sing."
                        December, 1977

Have you seen the star?
      A comet, I guess.
      Brighter than Halley's.
      (Who remembers?)

It's supposed to be up there...
      according to astronomers
      and assorted wise men.

We keep looking as instructed...
      usually before we get up
      or after bed-time.

I've had some difficulties...
      clouds block the view...
      raindrops keep falling
      on my eyes!

But what a great thing
      for dismal days!
      A reason to look upward.

I'm secretly, pietistically
      hoping for a Christmas
      a moment of wonder...
      a flash of communion
      with shepherds and kings
      of long ago.
                        December, 1973

"Somebody has to play the

A teacher explaining to a
      boy complaining about
      his part in the Christmas

I think of people who don't
      like their parts this


A good many people are
      just stuck with leftover

It takes character and
      special courage to accept
      the unwanted part.

I try to remember that it
      was shepherds who
      really learned what it
      was all about.
                        Dec. 12, 1979

She was giving everybody fits.
     Yelling at nurses, patients.

I told her to shut up...
     (since she wasn't one of
     our customers.)

I suggested she was scared...
     and she admitted it.

We talked...
     and she learned I was clergy.
     She asked for prayer.
     I prayed.

Then she said...quietly now...
     "You know, mister,
     I really believe in God.
     I believe he's close...
     right in this room."
     She looked for an example.
     "He's as close as that manger there."

We both looked at the manger
     decoration, and I said...
     "Yes...that's right.
     God is as close as that manger."
                         Dec. 20, 1967

We were gathered —
     a dozen or so —
     in a buzzing lounge.

A pre-Christmas time
     celebration of
     a work-season's end.

We were also waiting
     for a biopsy report
     on one of our friends.

In the midst of
     muted laughter
     her husband sat down.

He signaled us
     the lab report...
     thumbs down.

It was as though
     lights had gone off
     and music had stopped.

Some tears welled
     and each of us
     absorbed meaning.

Then bit by bit
     words reached out
     gently and caring.

And in midst of darkness
     little by little
     we sought light again.

It was a live baby...
     standing in for baby Jesus
     instead of a doll.
     (I sort of think that's
     the idea...
     people stand-ins for Jesus!)

We worried about it fussing...
     as babies are made to do.
     But not this Christmas.

The baby looked around...
     kind of wondering maybe
     about all the fuss.

The one thing I'll remember...
     is how all the folk
     focused on the baby.

When the mama came in and sat
     with the baby on her lap...
     all the folk stopped daydreaming
     and the kids stopped rustling
     and everybody zeroed in
     on the baby.

You wonder what God might do
     to get our attention
     in this multi-media world.
     It would be hard to beat
     a real live baby Jesus
     right in the middle of us all.
                           December, 1974

My first Christmas present...
     A "Fruits of the Spirit"
     dart board!

You throw a dart
     and it's supposed to hit
     Love (250 points)
     or Joy (100 points)
     or Temperance (25 points)
     or one of the others.

I throw a dart for my
     daily "fruit."

I try for big points...
     Goodness, or at least Joy.
     But I always get stuck on
     Long-suffering or Temperance.
     (Once even Meekness!)

I'd like to hit dead center...
     but like all humans
     I miss the mark a bit.

But I'm still following Scripture
     which say
     "Make love your aim."

It's worth 250 points!
                           Dec. 6, 1967

I stood with them...
     a mother and two children
     on the chancel steps.

I remembered another standing...
     a wintry year ago...
     the same three with me
     beside an open grave.

In that dark time
     we buried husband and father...
     and no light shone for them.

But now we stood again
     amidst Christmas greenery
     as a tall young man came to them.

I helped declare their marriage
     and the unit of family circle
     with parents and children.

After proper blessings
     while the family hugged
     and kissed all around
     I believe again
     in the promise of Christmas:

"Those who dwelt in a land
     of deep darkness,
     on them has the light shined."
                           Dec. 6, 1977

"Sin in exultation..."

My Christmas Eve typo
     on a carol song sheet.

Well...I say...
     Why not?

If you can't
     sin in exultation...
     why bother?

There's nothing worse
     than grim sinning
     it's grim singing.

Preachers have over-rated
     God's anxiety
     about penny-ante sins.

People are guilted up
     about things
     that don't matter.

Even the Bible
     doesn't bother with
     most of our "sins."

What we can't exult about
     is anything that hurts
     others, the world, ourselves.
                            January, 1981

Santa needs a diet
      and a jog
      or at least a good walk.

The unholy thought occurred
      as children lined up
      for pictures.

Time was when plumpness
      was proof of blessing
      and prosperity.

Now it's often a sign
      of dietary difficulty
      or indifferent discipline.

I'm not anti-jolly per se
      but Santa's girth
      worries me.

We'd like him around awhile
      and need his happy ways
      to get us through winter.

We're just afraid
      his days are numbered
      if he doesn't watch out.

We'd admire him even more
      if his round belly
      weren't so full
      of sugar and jelly.

The world changed color...
      as my eyes
      focused at my desk.

I looked up to rest...
      expecting to look
      down the drive...
            through the oaks...
                  across green fields.

At first I thought
      my sermonizing
      had blurred my vision.

I had been
      tracking the Magi
      trying to find helpful news
      in Matthew's poetry.

My mind was in Persia
      and the desert
      and the house in Bethlehem.

But when I looked up
      the world was white
      as snow.

It came so quickly...
      And everything was changed.

Just like...Christmas!

"My tinsel got all knotted...
      and I couldn't undo it.
      Just like me."

She had this insight
      while helping decorate
      the Christmas tree
      with our "life tinsel."

Everybody came forward...
      in happy confusion
      to participate.

Tinsel was strung up
      in all shapes...
      in knots.
      Just like us.

But the beautiful thing
      as anyone can see
      is that
      knotted tinsel (lives)
      can still reflect
      the Christmas star.

One of the kids said it best...
      on one of our
      Christmas "JOY" banners...


starring Baby Jesus

rated "M"
(for Mankind)

I thought that thought
      is worth a moment
      at the end of a decade...
      or the beginning of one.
                            December, 1969