‘Twas the day before Christmas, and all o’er the world
Every grown-up was busy; every boy, every girl.
The stockings weren’t up yet, the mulled wine not yet spiced,
The presents unwrapped still – <gasp!> – the cake’s not been iced!
Church-goers were dotted alone in their rows
Whilst shopping lists higher thoughts in their heads o’er-imposed.
And mum’s getting frantic, and dad’s getting ‘merry’
And – oh no, no, no! We’ve just run out of sherry!
And out in the towns, packed shops fill up their coffers
As last-minute shoppers vie for last minute offers.
Home, quick! Put lights up, to compete with our neighbour;
But somewhere else, now, a teenage girl is in labour.
And she’s waited – her advent has been 40 weeks –
And she thinks of the child that she bears, and she speaks,
“You are flesh of my flesh, and of my own bone hewn,
The world’s long been waiting, my child, so come soon.”
And she ponders what’s been, what is, what will be;
Of old dusty scriptures, and new prophecy.
And she’s joyful, and fearful, carrying hope, angst and awe,
As her mind crosses millennia: time changes now; evermore.
She thinks back to that day, in her home, nine months prior
As she knelt on her own, and she worked by the fire,
And the angel appeared, and proclaimed on her God’s favour
And declared that she soon would give birth to the Saviour.
And she thinks of the journey she’s come on since then
Of the census that brought her here, to Bethlehem
And of her time before with Elizabeth, time to prepare
And, just like all the days prior, her lips fall back on her prayer:
“My soul magnifies the greatness of my Lord,
In my saviour is my spirit o’erjoyed and restored
For he has ‘pon the lowly, his favour expressed
And all generations shall now call me blessed.
Th’Almighty has done great things for me;
His mercy renowned; his name is holy
The strength of his arm, he now has showed,
And in the conceit of their heart, he has scattered the proud.
He has cast down the mighty from where they belong
And lifted the humble, replacing the strong.
He has set before the poor hungry a wondrous feast
And ejected the rich; giving the most to the least.
And, rememb’ring his mercy, he has helped his creation,
As he promised our forefathers, and Abraham’s nation”
And so Mary prayed, as the night grew to morn
And awaited her child, and her Lord, to be born.
And her mind turns to reliance on God, and to waiting
And of how she’s learned patience, unrest and celebrating
And of how as the child grows in years, days and hours
She will teach him to wait, rely, and consider the flowers.
And now, here she waits in the dirt, on the ground
For the birth pangs to worsen, for the head to be crowned,
For the child to be born, and ascend to his throne
And with her, creation, it waits and it groans.
And we wait there with her, in this church, on this day
For the child to be born, and to light up our way
As our advent concludes, and his coming draws near
We wait, with her, for our Lord to appear.
And we remember his birth, and we remember his dying
And we think of his rising, the cold grave now defying
We await his return, to reclaim his throne
And we pray with his mother, “Come Lord, and come soon.”
And the world is still busy, and still vies for our ears
And the people still live lives of strife through the years
And the shoppers still shop, and the nations still rage
And it has ever been thus, from age to the age.
But amidst all the clamour and clatter and roar,
With the commotion and furore and tumult of war,
Christ’s people stand fast, ‘gainst the world’s assailing estate
And in the hustle and bustle, with Mary, we wait.