The Word became flesh



It’s a cliché often used by churches who don’t like Christmas that

“Jesus is the reason for the season” which is of course a flat

Rejection of the history that at least in the northern hemisphere

The church inserted its nativity into the food and wine and beer

And fire and fun festivity of the winter solstice. Pagans have priority

In devising the symbols and the stories of midwinter jollity.

Maybe piety has a bad conscience and so fails to seize us

With any sense of the real presence of Jesus.



 Priest for the people I therefore encourage them to gather

On Christmas Eve to worship although maybe they’d rather

Watch a good film; and faithfully they come, sing carols, and listen

To the gospel. They see the (pagan) Christmas tree glisten

With lights and baubles happy that it’s here beside our crib.

They are kindly men and women, content enough that a seasonal fib

Has taken the place of a Palestinian birth; but there’s nothing here that frees us

From consumer capitalism or helps us meet with Jesus.


So I go back to the Bible and read Luke’s great fantasy

Of Messiah’s birth: bright angel multitudes who chant and say,

“To you is born in Bethlehem a saviour who is Christ the Lord!”

“And there were in the same country shepherds “ If a word

Could do the job these would, but although I’m charmed I ask after fact

And wonder if this beautiful play is more than just an act.

All the inspired myth-making may simply freeze us

Stopping our intelligence from reaching towards Jesus.


Flicking through Rembrandt’s Etchings, a Christmas gift,

I come across his Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, she in a shift,

Pulled up, revealing her lower torso and strong legs, twisting

In desire towards the fleeing, terrified Joseph insisting

On his virtue. A clear line marks her vulva. Her white belly

Shines. This is the flesh the Word became to tell me

Love takes on the whole humanity that pleases

It, including mine, which brings me close at last to Jesus.








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