Posted tagged ‘Luke 2:12’

A Sign for You

December 16, 2012

Christmas 2003: The Nativity

I edited this again, and yes, it is even more dystopian.  But it  seems appropriate this grief-stricken season.

It is not  angelic Excelsis Deos, but
a mother’s anguished cry he first hears–
then the baby king breathes in
the scent of dung,
opens eyes to smears of blood
feels the earth rumble
with soldier’s horse’s hooves —
and tastes the tears of Rachel’s lament.

The smelly vagrants who visit,
who are first to wonder at Heaven’s exile:
an infant bound in cloths
laid in an animal’s trough,
nestled in a hollow
made in a cold stone, resting
like a corpse in a sarcophagus —
know suffering marks his true advent.

But we outfit the parents with halos,
snuggle a fat baby in a cosy blanket,
and sprinkle the scene with pretty angels
spangled in gold. We must tell our story
voiced with British accents
for suburban flat screens, drenched in sentiment.
We strip the angelic message of its mourning
–but it was for orphans and lepers

and hookers –for the night shift workers
He was anointed.
He came for haters of Christmas,
and of Him.  Even Creation groaned
at His birth–and a dragon waited to devour Him.
The bright star leads  to a tomb.
The sign for you yet still
is  cloth strips and hollowed-out stone.

This Shall Be A Sign

December 29, 2010
Christmas 2003: The Nativity

Image by DUCKMARX via Flickr

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.