I was haunted by these words, ‘This shall be a sign for you… a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger”, and also this blog post by Matt Redmond, “Christmas Is for Those Who Hate It Most.”
And, to aid in understanding the imagery used, the manger was not a cosy wooden trough, but was most likely a niche carved from stone at the site, and the stable itself was a grotto or cave
After the angel’s Excelsis Deos, the mess
of this ugly Nativity was so unexpected:
that the stink of dung, not frankincense,
had welcomed Heaven’s exile,
that the cave floor was so smeared with blood,
that the wan mother was fallen into straw–
With suffering His kingdom
began its violent advance.
Yet these smelly vagrants had little interest
in these parents unprepared for their visit.
Their gazes fixed on the mystery
wrapped like gravecloths,
laid in an animal’s trough,
nestled in a hollow made in cold stone
like a corpse in a sarcophagus:
this was their Savior.
Why do we outfit them all with halos,
snuggle Him in cosy blankets,
sprinkle the scene with pretty angels
spangled in gold? We tell a story
voiced with British accents
for suburban wide screens, drenched in sentiment.
We take the good news from the losers: the orphans,
lepers, hookers, and demoniacs–
Those from the night shift
He was anointed for.
But He came for haters of Christmas,
and of Him. Even Creation groaned
at His birth–and a dragon waited to devour Him.
That bright star leads to a tomb.
The sign for you
is strips of cloth and hollowed-out stone.