God with us

God with us
Advent 4; Matthew 1:23
Commercial Christmas has no place for God,
yet baby Jesus, Season’s icon, might
be found on billboards and the internet.
Lip service offered blandly may still serve
to claim him space within our consciousness.
Co-opted and profaned as pretext, still
Christ’s coming stands as challenge to the urge
to get and spend in search of Christmas cheer.

Nativities on Christmas cards are scarce;
the baubles, tinselled trees and doves of peace
make secular what once was steeped in awe.
Still sacrosanct are Christmas holidays:
ironic that that word for our escapes
derives from “Holy Days”. What’s holy now -
a fair, white baby with a haloed head,
re-incarnated as a folk lore tale?

When Christ in our own image is disguised,
the Virgin Mary a suburban Mum
dressed up to look religious in a shawl,
are we struck blind with scales upon our eyes,
so “God with us” cannot be recognized?
Or is this how the incarnation works,
with Christ as homeless here as he was there,
come to his own but made a refugee?

Now are there only wise ones from afar
who dare to make a journey with a star?
Perhaps angelic messengers prefer
to come to herders camping in the hills,
where vision is not dimmed by city lights,
but open to the vastness of the skies,
attuned to animals and ancient land,
where birth and death write meaning in the wind.

So who is Christ to you this Christmas time –
the cute and pristine babe of sentiment,
or some poor waif who huddles in the dark,
left by the wayside of our privilege,
no hope of presents or of Christmas food?
The God who cries for justice for the poor
would come among us on the margins still,
and offer there his body as Christ mass.
Barbara Messner Christmas 2017 

4 thoughts on “God with us

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