Thursday, December 6, 2012


I don't mean to depress you all three weeks before Christmas, but I was overwhelmingly blessed and convicted by this poem yesterday (yes, I've been reading a lot of poetry lately - it keeps me sane). Please think carefully on these words and pray seriously about how our celebration of Christmas can, and should, look different from the world's.

by E. Margaret Clarkson

We must keep Christmas!
In the time-honoured, traditional manner,
We must keep Christmas.

Christmas! With Christmas trees, their coloured lights like jewels
Twinkling from window, from lawn and public plaza;
Christmas, with mailbags bulging with greetings,
With carols ringing through the frosty air.
Christmas, with Santa Claus laden with parcels,
Gaily-wrapped toys heaped high in every home...

Toys, of course, for the children - dozens of them;
More than they can ever possibly play with;
Toys that will be broken in the morning, and forgotten - 
So many that the youngsters cannot even remember
Where they came from.

Gifts for the grown-ups...
Rich smoking jackets for men who have not time to relax;
Satin lounging robes and expensive cosmetics
For women who work so hard 
Striving to keep their youth
That they have not time to enjoy it;
Lovely, useless luxuries for young folks;
Work-saving devices for people who have not enough to do;
Costly hobby-craft for folks
Who have never really earned
The right to leisure.

Christmas! With jam-packed streetcars and nerve-wracked drivers;
With inhumanly crowded shops
And frantic buying,
And utterly exhausted salesgirls.
Christmas - with loaded tables:
Great turkeys and rich mince pies, plum pudding and fruitcake,
With confections of every kind, beyond any mortal need or want.
Christmas - with wines and liquors and cocktails,
With toasts to the season, to good health, prosperity and happiness - 
With screeching brakes
And the blood and broken bodies
Of old folks and little children.

Christmas! With too much to spend, too much to wear,
Too much to eat and drink,
Too many places to go,
And not enough satisfaction in anything.
In the time-honoured, traditional manner,
We must keep Christmas!
And the wide world over,
Famine and Want stalk grimly through the lands, 
Reaping their awful harvest of despair,
Of death, disease, and nameless degradation.
Unhoused bodies, unclad limbs, empty stomachs and unfed souls
Of numberless men and women
Cry out in desperation
For such pitiful scraps of the barest essentials of living
As we would scorn to toss to our dogs or our horses.

They have no words to voice their cruel want,
Their dire necessity. Only their eyes,
Speechless with need, look on
While we keep Christmas.

"In the name of Christ!" They seem to plead with us mutely...
They stare for a while, then turn away slowly
And die in the shadows.

And Christ looks on
With burning eyes
Where glows the agony and love
Of Bethlehem and Calvary,
Then turns from the tinsel and jazz of our pagan celebration
Of His Holy Day,
And goes to keep His Christmas
In the hunger-ridden haunts
Of the refugees.

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