Thursday, 3 December 2009

Looking for glimpses of glory

It was in the middle of summer that I was asked to write a short reflection/poem about any aspect of Christmas. Mind you not such a challenge as one might think because the shops were already filling shelves with chocolate Santas, plastic trees and nuts galore. My Mum often buys nuts early for Christmas to put away, inevitably she has to buy some more by about 20th December because she has succumbed to nutty temptation, and who can blame her?

The reflection is part of the 'Christmas in Your Pocket' booklet which has been produced by the newly formed Methodist Publishing - which is now looked after within the Connexional Team. It has been a scorching success - selling out within a couple of weeks and being reprinted to meet demand. We do need to have things to give to people - little easily offered gifts, with ideas, reflections, Bible quotes. But we also need to wrestle with the most profound questions of life and death that Advent and Christmas pose.

The Bishop of Croydon, who seems like a sensible and happy chap, has been pilloried in the press for daring to suggest we might sing Christmas songs that have some content and take us back to the Biblical origins of the story. How dare he! Well I for one am very glad he dare - please can we get past the sentimentality and look closer at the divine vulnerability and passion of Christmas. Yes sing carols devoid of meaning and enjoy doing so but don't let that be enough.

Behind the Tinsel

Within the tinsel shimmering, gift-wrapped

sentimentality a dim light catches my eye.

I follow the light to a messy shelter,

a simple coarse place where animals eat.

The stench of the beasts rises like a sour incense,

blending with sounds of struggle.

Here behind the cheery cards and artificial snow

is the hard, flesh-bound reality of love.

Here is the greatness of the small,

God’s risk-taking life-giving love.

In the weakness of a new-born child

is hope in the face of despair.

Here is the very essence of Christmas, Christ – holy,

God with us, Emmanuel.


  1. Even in a filthy cowshed we can see the transforming glory of God! Just as today we can see that glory in some of the poorest, meanest places in the world. Makes me want to sing "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!"

  2. Hi Micky, 'behind the tinsel' is just superb and so wonderfully evocative. It is really great to have you back offering your glimpses of glory.

  3. Thank you so much, Micky. At our church, we were so glad to be offered 'A Christmas in Your Pocket', so we ordered a batch and will be handing them out soon.

  4. Hi Micky. Guess you've been snowed under...I know how it is! Hope all is well.
    "Behind the tinsel" is great - love the "sour incense".
    You're right about needing to have things to give away - this Advent we're giving away blessings which we're linking with the Advent candle ceremony. Blessings from Columba, St Teresa of Avila, anon, and John Bell - set against a picture background with an advent greeting. Produced as photos they're only 5p each so it's possible for everyone to receive a copy. Then the challenge is to give away your blessing during the week. Seems to have captured imaginations.

  5. Love the poem, the good news is that the booklets have sold out. The bad news, I didn't get enough!