Sunday, 16 December 2012

Third Sunday of Advent - Advent 1955 by John Betjeman


The Advent wind begins to stir
With sea-like sounds in our Scotch fir, 
It's dark at breakfast, dark at tea,
And in between we only see
Clouds hurrying across the sky
And rain-wet roads the wind blows dry 
And branches bending to the gale 
Against great skies all silver pale
The world seems travelling into space,
 And travelling at a faster pace
Than in the leisured summer weather 
When we and it sit out together,
For now we feel the world spin round 
On some momentous journey bound 
- Journey to what? to whom? to where? 
The Advent bells call out 'Prepare, 
Your world is journeying to the birth
Of God made Man for us on earth.' 
And how, in fact, do we prepare
The great day that waits us there – 
For the twenty-fifth day of December, 
The birth of Christ? 
For some it means 
An interchange of hunting scenes
On coloured cards, And I remember 
Last year I sent out twenty yards, 
Laid end to end, of Christmas cards 
To people that I scarcely know – 
They'd sent a card to me, and so
I had to send one back. Oh dear!
Is this a form of Christmas cheer?
Or is it, which is less surprising,
My pride gone in for advertising?
The only cards that really count
Are that extremely small amount
From real friends who keep in touch 
And are not rich but love us much 
Some ways indeed are very odd
By which we hail the birth of God. 
We raise the price of things in shops,
We give plain boxes fancy tops 

And lines which traders cannot sell
Thus parcell'd go extremely well
We dole out bribes we call a present
To those to whom we must be pleasant
For business reasons. Our defence is 
These bribes are charged against expenses 
And bring relief in Income Tax 
Enough of these unworthy cracks!
'The time draws near the birth of Christ'. 
A present that cannot be priced
Given two thousand years ago
Yet if God had not given so
He still would be a distant stranger
And not the Baby in the manger. 

John Betjeman


I love this poem, it starts with the most beautiful description of our winter, and as I am writing this it hasn't really reached proper daylight all day, and with  wind and the rain, it fits beautifully, but then we are lead through the reminder of where our journey is going and the challenges, the commercialism, the traditions and things we do because we ought, not because we want to. But just as you are wondering about why we do the things we do he brings us back to the reality of the precious gift given to us all, the Baby in the manger.


Dear Lord
In the midst of the advertising
In the opening of cards and round robins,
We thank you that the true excitement is in the 
Gift given all those years ago
Your Son, on earth. 

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