Saturday, 26 November 2016
Our Christian country
Today is Advent Sunday, the start of the season of three to four weeks (depending on what day Christmas Day falls) when the church asks us to prepare, not for Christmas (though too many parsons don't seem to realise this, and Advent Calendars certainly don''t)) but for the Second Coming, Last Trump (now there's a thought), Day of Judgement, the End Times, or whatever you like to call it or them.
Oh for the days when parsons had the courage to stand out against populism and commercialism and forbid the singing of carols in church until Christmas Eve at the very earliest (though we choirboys could practise them of course.).
Our vicar, who is German (just one of the many "immigrants" who combine to make my life more stimulating, comfortable and convenient) introduced us last Sunday to this poem by Malcolm Guite:
Our King is calling from the hungry furrows
Whilst we are cruising through the aisles of plenty,
Our hoardings screen us from the man of sorrows,
Our soundtracks drown his murmur: ‘I am thirsty’.
He stands in line to sign in as a stranger
And seek a welcome from the world he made,
We see him only as a threat, a danger,
He asks for clothes, we strip-search him instead.
And if he should fall sick then we take care
That he does not infect our private health,
We lock him in the prisons of our fear
Lest he unlock the prison of our wealth.
But still on Sunday we shall stand and sing
The praises of our hidden Lord and King.
I hadn't heard of Mr Guite before but, although yet another immigrant, he seems to have his finger very accurately on the pulse of British life. The first 12 lines sum up the general population to a "T" and the final two twist the knife very accurately into that dwindling band of us who still turn up Sunday by Sunday and go through the motions. I often wonder if we follow the teachings and example of Jesus any more closely that anyone else. It worries me that so many church-goers read the Daily Mail.