Christmas Day: Last Last Thing

After all we have done and left undone,
after joy, after grief, after unbelief,
after wrapping paper scattered on floor,
after food is gone or stashed away,
after conversations thrive or starve,
after bombs are thrown and names are known,
after fire and flood, after duties done,
after every going down of Sun,
the darkness still has not overcome,
the darkness will not overcome.

Christmas 12: Seen (Nathanael’s Story)

through the birth of Immanuel…
(From the Collect of the Day)

He saw me by the fig-tree,
desiring yet resisting,
drawn to know the truth of things
yet not looking for it there.

He heard dismissal from my lips,
saw straight into the heart of things,
called to life the truth in me;
I cannot walk away.

That God Himself should take our scum,
that He should walk right here and see –
nothing else but this remains:
I must follow in His way.

Christmas 11: Becoming

and draw us into your holy life…
(From the Collect of the Day)

At once desiring and resisting:
holiness is an arrival, a fulfilment,
and a flame that sears.
Immanuel comes like a floodlight
and I, at times, prefer to hide.
Yet this is our why; life
occurs for precisely this:
union, the family at the heart of things,
becoming as we were first purposed.

Christmas 10: Sons

gather the nations to be one family…
(From the Collect of the Day)

But we know travail,
know separation,
are well-acquainted with the feeling,
on waking,
that something or someone or somewhere is missing, or wishing,
or losing, is lost.

And we know the gap
between ourselves;
we call the vacuum by first name.
We know division enough to feel
the shock of being brought into a whole.
We know the weight, the wait, delight
to be called sons of God…

Christmas 9: …who lives and reigns with You and the Spirit (For Basil the Great and Gregory Nanzianzen)

…eternal unity of perfect love…

(From the Collect of the Day)

What He left behind we can scarce imagine,
having never known such unity or home.
At best we can only recall
the closest to belonging that we have touched:
glimpses of a womb or a bed or a heart,
footsteps meeting the sand in shared rhythm.
Only if we knew
the radiant, pulsating
glory-to-glory from first, on and on,
only then could we fathom
the depths that He fathomed,
incarnate Word,
before time, found in time,
the stable not knowing His name.

Christmas 8: The Name

Not an unusual name,
though a powerful one.
Many Joshuas down the street no doubt
hoped for some of their hero’s kudos:
if not the power to bring down Jericho, then at least
the nod of approval as if they could if they tried.
Yet this one would be different. No
family lineage dictating the name,
but beating wings and the memory
of a thumping heart at the dining table
as the angel had brought her his news.
He saves. A grand claim
for the eight-day-old lying
half-asleep, half-stirring
while Joseph held the pair of pigeons,
their measly offering, a gift that could
not ever suffice, would have to suffice,
though the rules were soon to change,
as the dozing Saviour surely knew.

Christmas 6: How we grow

And Mary treasured in her heart
the mystery, the sheer
beyondness of what she held and did not hold.
He already moved from her grasp,
wiser than her and Joseph combined,
outsmarting his teachers,
taking himself off for theological talks,
when she had hardly finished feeding him.
Only time stood between her and total loss, only
years before a sword would pierce
her own soul through – and his, and his.
Only ever years, and yet
these years are how we grow (for she
was the one who’d still to grow.)

Christmas 5: This Turbulent Priest (For Thomas Becket, Archbishop and Martyr)

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”
(Matthew 10:26-28)

If even the sparrow has a home near the altar,
how much more the priest, killed there by the king’s men,
who, though the king’s drinking chum, could not be bought,
fearing God more than crown?

If the day is coming when whispers will be shouts
and the secretive heart will have its chambers turned out,
then how much more will the faithful ones shine
who did not take hold of the throne?

And if turbulent priests are quickly snuffed out,
how much will their turbulence resound
when God born as child, king born to die,
divides truth from clanging gong?

Sold with a mutter, Becket still shouts.
The Truth wins the heart, wins the night.

Christmas 4: Holy Innocents

Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
(Matthew 2:17-18)

Rachel weeps; the Spirit keeps
vigil with the ones who mourn.
One child lives, though many die;
that child will die for all.

Herod paces and erases
innocence across his land.
The tyrant frets; the child-king flees
and grips his mother’s hand.

The deed is done and I am numb;
must Adam’s debt be paid this way?
No, God Himself must lose a son
and tears will be praise one day.