ODE TO CRIMBO
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.