And is it true?

I already posted this on the BHT, but it’s worth posting here as well: one of my favourite Christmas poems, John Betjeman’s Christmas. The whole poem is worth reading, but here are the final three stanzas:

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?

And is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

The last two lines were something of a guilty pleasure when I didn’t believe in the real presence. Now, I think Betjeman is spot on in seeing the Lord’s Supper as an extension, not only of Good Friday and Easter, but also of Christmas: that the gospel message is not just that the incarnate Jesus was physically present in Palestine then, but that he is also physically present here today, for us.

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2 Responses to And is it true?

  1. Nick says:

    Merry Christmas, John! (or Workmas as we call it in Turkey).

  2. Pr. Alex Klages says:

    Blessed Feast of the Nativity! We’re off to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in about an hour.

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