Yesterday, I posted a critique of a piece of poetry that I've received via email on more than one occasion. In case I wasn't abundantly clear in that post, I thought the poem got it all wrong and was more hurtful to rescuing the meaning of Christmas than it was helpful.
Today, I'd like to post a different poem. I think it does a good job of reflecting the tension we live in everyday--Christmas has already come, Christ has already entered the world...but at the same time we still live in a state of Advent. Preparing. Waiting. God's kingdom has come, but at the same time it has not yet come. And for some, that sense of waiting and longing for a savior means much more than making sure the house is properly decorated and presents are bought and wrapped. How are we called to serve those for whom, in a different but very real sense, Christmas has not yet come?
Christmas is Waiting
by Gerard Kelley
Christmas is waiting to happen.
Outside, a vacant hillside
Lies silent, strangely empty
Of any angel’s choir.
A stable waits
For bookings at the inn to multiply.
Distant Kings study charts
And keep gifts in cold storage,
While shepherds plan their memoirs
In expectancy of unexpected fame
And keep a chapter free
A small velvet patch
In the black night sky
Stands ready to hold a new born star,
And oppressed peoples everywhere
Cling wildly to prophecy and song,
And whisper the word: Messiah.
They’ve switched on the lights
In Oxford Street,
Counting off the buying days
Like Guardsmen on parade
Shops are stocked and standing by
Revving up the engines
Of their debt-powered swiping machines
And history watchers mark another year
To start the slow count to 3000.
But here, an old man lies
In the stairwell where he fell three days ago
And no one knows.
And here a young girl loiters
In a streetlight’s unholy halo
To sell the only thing she owns
That men will pay for
And here an infant sleeps
On a sack on the hard earth floor
Where even a mother’s hand
And there are places where Christmas
Is still waiting