Co-Guardians for the God-child

I like the 2007 movie “The Nativity Story,” because it presents the story of Mary and Joseph and the events leading up to the birth of Jesus with a gritty realism that easily (and usually) gets lost in the romanticized crèches and Christmas pageants that depict the Christmas narrative.  Both of the couple God chose to raise His Son had to face excruciatingly difficult circumstances and attendant decisions when Mary was “found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.”  In the two poems below, I have attempted to portray the consternation felt by each of them when an angel brought the message that they had been chosen to be parents to the Holy One of Israel, Emmanuel, the Messiah.

               The Husbandry of God

                       (Luke 1:26-35)   

How can I contain this word from the Lord?

His light has pierced my being

And sown in single seed

Both glory and shame.

Content was I

To wed in lowliness

And live in obscurity,

With purity my only dower.

Now, ravished with power,

I flout the conventions of man

To incubate God.

In lowliness how shall I bear it?

In modesty how shall I tell it?

What now shall I become?

But the fruit of God's planting

Is His to harvest.

No gleaner I, like Ruth,

But the field itself,

In whom my Lord lies hid.

--Elton D. Higgs



Joseph In Waiting

     (Matt. 1:18-26)

Familiar wood now nears its goal,

Purpose carved from formless block.

My wife sits waiting by,

Custodian of promised Son,

Full with Spirit-crafted child.  


How strange has been

This celibate intimacy

Since angel-visions

Translated besmirched betrothal

Into Holy co-habitation.

Others praise an act of mercy,

Taking shameful form into my house;

I know that in her Spirit-quickened womb

Lies more than chaste maid

Could ever have been.

Match made on earth

Transmuted now to Heaven’s pairing,

We dwell together with nascent God

And await the Day of Deliverance.

Elton D. Higgs

Dec. 12, 2015

Image: "Rembrandt van Rijn 195" by Workshop of Rembrandt - Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -



Elton Higgs

Dr. Elton Higgs was a faculty member in the English department of the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 1965-2001. Having retired from UM-D as Prof. of English in 2001, he now lives with his wife and adult daughter in Jackson, MI.. He has published scholarly articles on Chaucer, Langland, the Pearl Poet, Shakespeare, and Milton. His self-published Collected Poems is online at He also published a couple dozen short articles in religious journals. (Ed.: Dr. Higgs was the most important mentor during undergrad for the creator of this website, and his influence was inestimable; it's thrilling to welcome this dear friend onboard.)