Inside and Outside the Stable: A Christmas Poem

Inside the stable there is darkness pushing in,
a small light, perhaps, illuminating three faces.
The murmurs of a baby’s cries, his snuffling and suckling,
the rustle of straw, the sound of animals shifting.
The smell of sweat and blood and manure,
the fragrance of milk and sweet baby.
The  touch of a hand on a smooth small forehead,
a man’s arm holding a body still shaking with afterpains.

Outside the stable, darkness is pushed away,
radiant brightness illuminating shepherds, flocks.
The gasps of fright as grown men topple to the ground,

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About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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