Thorns In The Straw

Since the day the angel came
It seemed that everything had changed
The only certain thing
Was the child that moved within
On the road that would not end
Winding down to Bethlehem
So far away from home

This old Graham Kendrick song has been part of my Christmas musings for many years. It tells a story that I know. I revisit ‘angels from the realms of glory’, the ‘little town of Bethlehem’ and a baby ‘away in a manger’. I listen again for fresh glimpses of truth.

Today, the fourth Sunday in advent we light the 4th candle, signifying love. Many remember the love of a mother, the love of a father, the love of a Father God…

Then the words of ancient seers
Tumbled down the centuries …
A virgin shall conceive…
God with us… Prince of Peace
Man of Sorrows – strangest name
Oh Joseph there it comes again
So bitter yet so sweet.

The bitter-sweet nature of the baby’s birth comes repeatedly. This baby, born to be both ‘Prince of Peace’ and ‘Man of Sorrows’ is mystery, paradox and wonder. Pictures of his death are present at his birth. This loving mother with the miracle baby will later watch him die.

I think back to Rick Hughes’ thanksgiving service on Friday… bitterness together with sweetness. The bitterness of Rick’s pain, of the bereavement of family and friends; the sweetness of a life well-lived, good memories, suffering over, Rick’s heavenly inheritance…

I muse on joy and sorrow, hope and despair, life and death, humanity and divinity… seeking to get my head around big stuff. I look again at the Christ-child, light my candle of love and muse further.

And did she see there
In the straw by his head a thorn
And did she smell myrrh

In the air on that starry night
And did she hear angels sing
Not so far away
Till at last the sun rose blood-red
In the morning sky

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