Bethlehem, sitting on the West Bank, remains a difficult place to get to. The photo above shows not a manger but a chaotic presence of a border wall which surrounds the city making it difficult and dangerous to travel to, as one has to pass through Israeli border checks! This photograph does not grace our Christmas cards nor our Christmas Nativity! The Walled Off hotel has been created by the artist Banksy to highlight a very real crisis. More on the hotel can be found using the link https://walledoffhotel.com/
I promised that I would return to John Donne’s Holy Sonnets, La Crona, a series of 7 sonnets. Today I use the third in the series. Remember Donne (1572-1631) uses the last line of the previous sonnet to be the first line of the next sonnet. We are fortunate to hear for a second time that powerful line of immense truth “Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb”
Nativity by John Donne
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.
A Prayer for Christmas Day:
Today, O God,
the soles of your feet
have touched the earth.
the backstreet, the forgotten place
have been lit up with significance.
the households of earth
welcome the King of heaven.
For you have come among us.
So may our songs rise to surround your throne
as our knees bend to salute your cradle. Amen.
(from Book of Common Worship of The Church of Scotland)