Saturday, 24 December 2011

A Merry Christmas from the Carmelite Community

O little town of Bethlehem.
Alternative ~ Rev. John Bell
 O little town of Bethlehem, how rowdy you appear
as homecome emigrants are buoyed
 by sentiment and beer.
The long haired tearaway returns
grandfatherly and grey,
and former glamourpusses’ pasts
emerge in all they say

 Who knows if Ned the publican
whose rooms could take no more
would pleasantly or angrily
greet strangers at the door?
Who knows if he had cats and dogs
around his cattle shed,
or whether robins twittered on
or even Mrs Ned?

But if he let his stable out
to be a labour room
for some expectant teenage mum
and her embarrassed groom,
the breath and stink of tethered beasts
would set the midwives wild
If keen to minimise the risk
to Mary and her child.

And would poor shepherds, when disturbed
from midnight peace and calm,
presume a newborn baby boy
would want to hold a lamb?
And if the magi from the East
did ‘enter in all three’
were they distinctly Siamese
In bending just one knee?

And did the baby never cry,
and was the mother mild
when Herod sensed that he’d been duped
and let his men run wild?
And was the father pre-programmed
to take a passive part
when one old man foretold the child
would break his mother’s heart? 

Christ was not born at Christmas time
invoked by practised choirs,
embraced by plastic mangers
and fulfilling our desires.
No kindergarten was his home,
no drummer boy his page,
no earth had frozen snow on snow
when God had come of age.

Instead, on the periphery,
eccentric through decree,
the power behind the universe
was born a refugee;
A refugee from heaven above
Is the world’s creator,
and chose an unknown peasant girl
as host and liberator.

A Happy and Holy Christmas to all!

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