He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.
~Rowan Williams “Advent Calendar”
How have we diminished the worth of a child?
More and more we resist humanity’s mandate to ensure a future for those who come after us.
Our excuse: the world is dying, the climate an emergency,
how do we dare expose future generations to desolation and destruction?
Better to have no children at all.
So many choose childlessness, doing whatever it takes to remain childless.
Yet all feel outrage at the images of children suffering
and dying trying to escape poverty, homelessness, war and evil:
A toddler lying face down in the water on a Turkish beach,
at first glance almost as if napping, but this sleep is forever.
A father drowned in the Rio Grande protecting his daughter, also drowned,
trying to bring her to a safe future in the States.
This is nothing new in the history of humanity.
We kill unborn children every day in our own private wars
that we justify without guilt or regret.
When confronted by images of dead children while eating breakfast,
when millions cry out with the shame of it,
so many tears falling like raindrops soaking deep on holy ground,
ground we share with the poor and oppressed and homeless,
ground we no longer can hoard.
These images change from one day to the next,
birthing life, taking life,
a child in the womb becomes ghost in the tomb,
so we come undone,
forced to unbuild walls we hide behind.
God Himself came like a child – bloody, broken, crying.
The earth writhes in the reality that if conceived today, Jesus would likely be washed away before His birth, considered inconvenient and so unfortunate to be born to an impoverished refugee family. The world was much too harsh for Him to thrive.
So we would toss away the Son, the Light, the Hope and cling to our darkness.
What is the worth of such a Child?
He answers clearly:
He came because we are worthy of both His birth and His death.
Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
And darkness breathe a newer light,
Where endless faith shall shine serene,
And twilight never intervene
~from Veni Redemptor Genium (Come Thou Redeemer of the Earth)
Oh little child it’s Christmas night
And the sky is filled with glorious light
Lay your soft head so gently down
It’s Christmas night in Bethlehem town.
Alleluia the angels sing
Alleluia to the king
Alleluia the angels sing
Alleluia to the king.
Sleep while the shepherds find their way
As they kneel before you in the golden hay
For they have brought you a woolly lamb
On Christmas night in Bethlehem.
Sleep till you wake at the break of day
With the sun’s first dawning ray
You are the babe, who’ll wear the crown
On Christmas morn in Bethlehem town.