Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christmas, Mary, Mother of God & The Epiphany all rolled into one!

From Advent to the Feast of Theotokos, Mary Mother of God.  Quite a leap, missing out the Nativity all together as my son and his family arrived from Denmark and having guests, including small children, is not conducive to blogging!

I hope you all celebrated Christmas with due solemnity as the Incarnation is a truly astounding occurrence.  I believe that Neil Armstrong made a comment to the effect that man's footprints on the Moon are nothing compared to God's footprints on Earth.  Not only that but His continuing tangible presence in Bread & Wine.  I used to have a two hour programme on the radio on Christmas Day and I always read this poem:

Christmas by John Betjeman
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.
And Christmas is still with us.  It didn't finish with the shops closing on the 24th December.  As Christians we must reclaim our 12 days of Christmas and make a great fuss of the Epiphany, the visit of the Magi and as the Anglican Book of Common Prayer puts it, the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.  TS Eliot took the opening phrase from a sermon by the Anglican Divine, Lancelot Andrews for his famous poem, 

The Coming of the Magi:

                                             'A cold coming we had of it,
       Just the worst time of the year 
For a journey, and such a journey.  
The ways deep, the weather sharp, 
The very days of winter.

Let's hope that the Church has the wisdom to return the Epiphany to the 6th January.

And what of Our Lady, whose feast it is today.  Mother of God, Theotokos, underlines our faith in the Incarnation and gives the lie to much of the incipient Arianism that sentimentality often allows us to slip into almost unawares.  One of the carols we sang today was "Away in a Manger".....Little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes....   Child birth is a messy process and babies are equally messy and noisy, especially when most births are still not in the antiseptic conditions of a modern day nursing home.  It makes the Incarnation even more astonishing.

It's not a big leap from Jesus the Good Baby to Jesus the Good Man and Jesus as God becomes uncomfortable.

China is going to to increasingly dominate our world in 2012 as it strives to again becomes the world's biggest economy after a very short period of about 250 years when it wasn't in the top spot.  The Church has great difficulties there so pray for the Church in China both the underground Catholic Church and the official State approved Church as I am sure there is considerable overlap.


  1. Interesting blog, Peter.
    Thanks for sharing your words, beautiful images and poems.
    I´ll visit you again.
    Happy New Year from Spain.

  2. Many thanks, Dulcina. A Happy New Year to you and all who read this blog.