What would they think?
In the corner the couple, far-travelled and weary
Washed up in this place with its animal stink
Where they huddle together with improvised bedding
Assaulted by draughts and enveloped
In humidly hay-scented breath
But making the best of it here in the gloom
With the rustle and stir of the dumb, restless beasts
Shut in.

What would they think?
Quietly slumped on the floor, faces stiff with exhaustion
And minds overrun. He, way out of his comfort zone
Watchful and tender, but feeling so useless

She, limp with relief now, her sore body draining
What was that just happened? No, don’t brood upon it
They both have to think of their new little one
They just need to focus
On Him.

What would they think
If they could just see us as we now regard them?
Exotically dressed and precisely arrayed
In a picturesque shed, like a thatched listed cottage
Or in precincts of marble, palatial and splendid
The paragon family: she, blue-robed and bride-like
He, noble and turbaned; with bright glowing light –
As if radioactive – emitted
From Him.

What would they think
Of the fabulous entourage we love to picture?
A passel of shepherds surrounded by sheep
Cheek by jowl with a trio of grand foreign kings
Whose proud pilgrim camels wait out in the snowscape
While massed choirs of angels, in feathers and drapery
Float on an ocean of midnight-blue sky
And, curious but hesitant, out in the shadows
The wild beasts gather in motley assembly
As one radiant beam of the travelling star
Falls like a spotlight
On Him.

Yes, what would they make
Of our vision of Christmas?
Our Christmassy colours, its sounds, tastes and smells
All the fairy lights, lantern lights, firelight, candlelight
Sweet haunting choirs and tinkling sleighbells
Our gluhwein and spices, our gingerbread lattes
The red-breasted robins, the penguins and polar bears
Baubles and beads on our glittering Christmas trees
Scarlet poinsettias in frost-whitened windows
Our snow globes and holly wreaths, yule logs and mince pies
The presents and packages, ribbons and bows
And the rush to get everything, crowds in the shopping malls
Crushes on buses, congestion on roads
All the stress and the tension of too much to do
Fridges stuffed to the limit for one day or two
All the drinking and driving, the mad social whirl
With barely a moment to stop
And to call to mind Him, God with us
Immanuel.

Christmas without Him?
We might as well celebrate
End of a war that brings only defeat
If, at the heart of our festivity
There’s no space for Him, who they knew would be
God’s promise, our Prince of Peace, King David’s Son
Son of God, Son of Man, and the one to be born
Of a virgin, who’d come to this world as God’s gift
To save us from sin and to heal the rift that we opened
By turning away from our God
Who would heal that divide
At the cross when he poured out
His blood.

Think of that couple camped out on the floor
May we properly see all the wonders they saw
In that animal shed, in the lamplight so dim
Gathered round that small child
May we recognise Him for the one that He is
Then we could be forgiven the whole festive fuss
If all of it celebrated
God with us.


Anne Woodcock

By Anne Woodcock
Anne is married to Pete Woodcock and works as an Editor for The Good Book company.
Anne has written a poem for every month of the year in 2019 which you can read on the Cornerstone blog.

15 December 2021

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