Published by Michael Bigg on Sat, 18 Nov 2017 12:41

Mike's article for Nov/Dec issues of parish magazines...

If all goes to plan then in the gap between me writing this column and you reading it I’ll have become a father again. (In the unlikely event that this happens before this magazine goes to press then you might even find a picture next to these words!)

New birth always gets people thinking, especially so for Christians at this time of year. A new baby is so full of potential and yet so vulnerable. Who will this tiny baby turn out to be? What will life be like when this baby is an adult? Will this child be happy? Am I going to mess things up for him? (Yes, we are expecting a boy…)

There’s also that sense of waiting. Particularly in these final few weeks. Something we’re looking forward to with excitement (and some fear) is surely going to happen soon but we don’t know exactly when or how it’s going to turn out. The last few weeks seem to last an age.

The people of Israel were used to waiting. They were waiting for a Messiah, a redeemer: someone who was going to put things right. However, Christians believe that instead of a mighty warrior-king, God sought to put things right in the tiny baby we celebrate at Christmas. A poor, vulnerable baby; a child of questionable parentage whose first visitors were not the powerful but humble shepherds. This was the child who would put things right; not by power and strength but by sacrifice and love.

Malcolm Guite’s poem Descent captures this paradox. The classical gods were high above, but Jesus came down; they were set above the mortal plain, but Jesus was born into it. Crucially, at Christmas, God took on human form in order to transform human frailty and save it. You can read the poem below or hear a wonderful recording of it online: Steve Bell - Descent

Why not come along to one of our Christmas services to hear the story told again and respond to it afresh?


They sought to soar into the skies
Those classic gods of high renown
For lofty pride aspires to rise
But you came down.

You dropped down from the mountains sheer
Forsook the eagle for the dove
The other Gods demanded fear
But you gave love

Where chiseled marble seemed to freeze
Their abstract and perfected form
Compassion brought you to your knees
Your blood was warm 

They called for blood in sacrifice
Their victims on an altar bled
When no one else could pay the price
You died instead 

They towered above our mortal plain,
Dismissed this restless flesh with scorn,
Aloof from birth and death and pain,
But you were born.

Born to these burdens, borne by all
Born with us all ‘astride the grave’
Weak, to be with us when we fall
And strong to save.

You can read more of Malcolm Guite's poetry on his blog

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