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Christmas In Dark Places

It used to be summer when Christmas came round. 
Underneath tall southern skies
over sun scorched ground.
With the backyard cricket, the barbies, the beach,
and munching on mangoes to watch the Queen’s Speech.
The slathering of sunscreen, the glorious glare
And toasting the glow in the warm evening air.

It used to be summer when I was young.
A golden age in a land far flung.
But there came a point, I crossed a divide,
went up in the world and summer had died.
December is dark now, the nights close in.
So we huddle together as kith and as kin.

It’s winter now when Christmas rolls round,
We celebrate still though with different surrounds.
We mull the wine and strike the matches,
Light the fires, batten the hatches,
Gather around the warming beam
Of family love or a TV screen.
So safe inside, no place to go,
we toast marshmallows and let it snow.

Our summer’s gone, if you’ve been around,
you’ve felt the fall: life’s run aground.
We’ve gone up in the world, seen summer die.
So what’s our hope? The dark defy?
Stoke the hearth? Retreat indoors?
Rug up warm with you and yours?
The shadow reaches even here,
But this is the place for Christmas cheer.

It’s dark in the Bible when Christmas is spoken.
Always a bolt from the blue for the broken.
It’s the valley of shadow, the land of the dead,
It’s, “No place in the inn,” so He stoops to the shed.
He’s born to the shameful, bends to the weak,
becomes the lowly: the God who can’t speak!

And yet, what a Word, this Saviour who comes,
Our dismal, abysmal depths He plumbs.
Through crib and then cross, to compass our life.
To carry and conquer. Our Brother in strife.
He became what we are: our failures He shouldered,
To bring us to His life: forever enfolded.
He took on our frailty, He took on all-comers,
To turn all our winters to glorious summers.

It’s Christmas now, whatever the weather,
Some soak in the sun, some huddle together.
But fair days or foul, our plight He embraces.
Real Christmas can shine in the darkest of places.

GLEN SCRIVENER

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