Monday, 30 December 2013

'God was Man in Palestine, and lives Today in Bread and Wine'


 

Birth of Jesus. Medieval Fresco located at Neppendorf, Sibiu, Romania.     Image by Fergal of Claddach.


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'Christmas at the Office' – Joy Falkner (1978)

The industrious clerk

meticulous and slow

made out wage packets

for the higher echelons

and his own

meagre but sufficient.

Enough to keep his bicycle

behind the opulent cars

and cycle home

to wash the dishes

change the sheets

and cook a dinner

for the half-crazed woman

querulous invalid

bed-ridden these two years

the fractious faded phantom

of the flower-wife

of 1949.

 
He packs his books

and leaves his desk immaculate

as drinks go round

the disco signalling

the start of celebrations

“I’m going now Sir”

“Ah - not staying for the party?”

 
We do not see him cross the room

only the door opening on the dark

and chorus “Merry Christmas Lou”.

                                    Joy Falkner –‘Is anybody there’

 
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'Christmas' - John Betjeman

 
The bells of waiting Advent ring,

The Tortoise stove is lit again

And lamp-oil light across the night

Has caught the streaks of winter rain

In many a stained -glass window sheen

From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

 

The holly in the windy hedge

And round the Manor House the yew

Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,

The altar, font, and arch and pew,

So that the villagers can say

“The church looks nice” on Christmas Day.

 

Provincial public houses blaze

And Corporation tramcars clang,

On lighted tenements I gaze

Where paper decorations hang,

And bunting in the red Town Hall

Says “Merry Christmas to you all.”

 

And London shops on Christmas Eve

Are strung with silver bells and flowers,

As hurrying clerks the City leave

To pigeon-haunted classic towers,

And marbled clouds go scudding by

The many-steepled London sky.

 

And girls in slacks remember Dad,

And oafish louts remember Mum,

And sleepless children’s hearts are glad,

And Christmas -morning bells say “Come!”

Even to shining ones who dwell

Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

 

And is it true?  And is it true,

This most tremendous tale of all,

Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,

A Baby in an ox’s stall?

He Maker of the stars and sea

Become a Child on earth for me?

 

And is it true?  For if it is,

No loving fingers tying strings

Around those tissued fripperies,

The sweet and silly Christmas things,

Bath salts and inexpensive scent

And hideous tie so kindly meant.

 

No love that in a family dwells,

No carolling in frosty air,

Nor all the steeple-shaking bells,

Can with this single Truth compare ---

That God was Man in Palestine

And lives today in Bread and Wine.

 
John Betjeman - Collected Poems, ‘A few late chrysanthemums’- 1954

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'God, Who is unchangeable, would appear now as a child in a stable, now as a boy in a workshop, now as a criminal on a scaffold, and now as bread upon the altar.  In these various guises Jesus chose to exhibit Himself to us;  but whatever character He assumed, it was always the character of a lover'

Thoughts from St Alphonsus Liguori

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       'Wishing one and all a happy and blessed New Year'
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