So now: as we wait in rapt expectancy,
will we unwrap our dreams? Our loves?
Or unravel with the pressure,
the hallowed table proving to be full of holes.
When the day and its gestures disappoint,
what will tell us, You matter?
Frantic to complete the list,
we quickly pass the simple scene:
a teenage mother tending her child,
tired from the journey to the in-laws’ town.
Too pressed for time with time-pressing matters,
we miss the divine entrance into our smelly matter.
Our lunchtime squabbles and fights over gifts
are themselves the stage He chose to walk.
The chance to be changed lies within rudest details:
a makeshift crib; soil and straw;
an angry heart with limited room.
He comes near, able to touch, to be touched,
and be wounded, to kiss and to be kissed:
the grateful kiss, the sleepy child dismiss-
ing himself to sleep; the mother’s kiss, a smudge
on freshly-bathed cheek; the plotter’s grudge
expressed in the curl of doubled lips,
the final, false farewell, the fatal tryst.
He comes to feel the touch of friend and judge.
He comes to raise His hand to touch the world,
to put together Jacob’s broken hip,
to be the salve on Adam’s missing rib,
to gather in His family, unfurled,
and show that God’s love isn’t scared to feel
the pain of touch to make all new, to heal.
See clockwise how the candle-steps arise,
New wick ablaze as old wicks stand beside.
Some rise in hope with freshness in their eyes,
Some simply stand; His Nonetheless abides
In hearts that quicken, hearts of smouldering wick.
Though Zion is not tall, though nations scoff,
The small, the humble, now are tall. Come quick!
The way’s made plain, though faint, though still far off.
Come, come: let’s walk. His house beckons us in,
And joyful songs may fill our hearts today.
The hope is sure, though hope sometimes burns dim;
A beacon star still flicks to show the way.
Advent arises; knees unbend to find
This God-with-us, this brother of mankind.
Calendar flaps decked with chocolate each day;
Shops tinsel-lined as though God intended
The season to dazzle our wallets away.
Advent is not for the first-fruits of commerce,
Nor is it for month-long pre-parties and drinks,
And not for fluoro-lit reindeers dispersed
In gardens, despite what the suburbs may think.
No, Advent is waiting: for succour, for light.
Advent is silence, four centuries’ thirst
And prophecies ringing on into the night.
Christmas appeases, but mourning comes first:
Emmanuel promised, but light not yet here;
Our night-time rejoicing, till dawn shall appear.