The humdrum duties of the land,
feeding the beasts, mucking out the straw
provide the dull hessian background
of the Christmas scene.
Suddenly the tapestry is lit
by glory's gold and smirched by red threads of violence.
First the angel song
caroling the Word made flesh,
then the murderous fire of Herod's fear
slaying the Innocents.
Is conflict part of the perennial pattern
of our response to Love's story?
conversion proceeding from the barrel of a gun
betray the gracious Christ;
the fear of might and money breed
Terror. Innocents of Palestine,
Arab and Jew
bleed from the bombs and guns
that violence deploys;
the flash of gunfire rapes the night's tranquility over Baghdad;
the mothers of Breslan weep for their children
and will not be comforted.
Meanwhile there's far within;
as each of us grows old
black crows of death and disease
darken our days.
Come Love anew
let the angels' song
counterpoint our tears
and lace the clouds with glory.
Give us an unambiguous blessing
by the Birth
to paint a rainbow
above our hearts' distress.
With love and prayers for Light to overcome
the current darkness, political, ecclesiastical and personal.
Blessèd are you, Sovereign God,
our light and our salvation;
to you be glory and praise for ever!
May we who walk in the light of your presence
acclaim your Christ, rising victorious,
as he banishes all darkness from our hearts and minds,
and praise you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
Blessèd be God for ever!
— Celebrating common prayer.
Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-76). "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee" (Isaiah 26:3). Bath Abbey Choirs of Boys and Men.
May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. Amen.