By Leslie Leyland Fields, coeditor of A Radiant Birth

A Radiant Birth

How fitting that the Advent season often comes during the U.S. election season. I would not have designed it so, but here we are, and I cannot turn away. Two kingdoms are in the offering. Both are offering light and hope and promises of peace. Both are asking for singular allegiance. Both will spare no means to that end. So has it always been since the radiant birth of our Savior in that dim Bethlehem cave. As Advent opens up before us once again, we get another chance to choose.

"No Country for Two Kings"

A king is come. There is no bed

in hostel or hearth for a girl

bursting with child. No bed for a birth

and less room for a king, no matter how infant

and Hebrew he is, no matter how long

the signs of his coming. See,

there he lies among dung and black sheep

in a two-mule town:

This is no place for a king.


But Herod hears. When you're the solo royal

any rumor of a rival is good enough

to make the mad exchange:

1000 babies dying for his crown,

1000 mothers wailing grief

for his relief.

This is no country for two kings.


And when that child grows up crude

with tools and wood, yet dares to rule

over sickness, greed and fear,

he wins a timber throne, is crowned

with thorns and irony—

King of the Jews.


The signs are clear:

this is how kings are kept,

how man redeems:

Yes, let all the children die for me,

while another, lifts his bloody head, decrees

Let me die to make my children royalty.

This is no country for two kings.

This bonus poem by Leslie Leyland Fields was originally written for A Radiant Birth: Advent Readings for a Bright Season and it appeared in IVP's spiritual formation newsletter. Sign up for IVP's email list and select "spiritual formation" to get more content like this straight to your inbox.

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