Come to the Manger

Image from Pixabay

Come to the manger all you sweet wanderers with disconnected memories and synapses that do not quite link up any more, like frayed cables lashing blindly in the wind. Come and worship the one newly born from and to wholeness. Where your ends do not meet he will find you, somewhere in the middle. All will come flooding back to your heart, if not your mind. Remembering is now done in the stillness of your soul and the integrity of ideas does not matter here.

Come and sit by the crib, all you dear and desperate ones, clinging to difficult pasts or fragments of yourself because it is all you have to go on in the jigsaw of life. The unknowing and the heart-breaking urgency to belong somewhere, anywhere, will come to rest here. This place is your storm harbour, and your safety. Find your identity here, sat on sacred ground, be it cold and stony. He knows who you are, even when you do not.

Come, blessed hearts, to the stable, all you anxious and traumatised, troubled and sobbing. Here is the Prince of your Peace, bring him all you have, the flashbacks and the anger, the deep desire to forgive and forget the terrible. The longing to have a future free from angst. Come weeping and gnashing and find your soothing lullaby here in a cradle of heaven’s heart.

Come near, you beloved, to the soft golden straw, you unsure of your own senses, hearing the voices and the commands of harm and horror. The fog of uncertainty surrounds and taints all things and the promptings are powerful, but here in the love-light you will see the mist clearly dissipate, hear the dark declarations silenced this quiet night. For the Good Shepherd sleeps and softly gurgles here, and you will know his voice as it quells those other tides.

Come now, the cherished, drawn to the light of the candles, you claimed forgotten, clenched and exhausted, abandoned by sleep and joy, left dwelling in dark clouds and unable to feel your way to any happy thought. Despair and disappointment have long been your companions, their constancy too strong to fight and too hard to bear. This is the home of hope, this small and perfect beginning. The glow can start again for us all, the flame rekindled.

Come all you treasured edge-dwellers, to Bethlehem, you precious peerers around corners, you unworthy ones who cringe and cower if someone notices your difference, your bare brokenness. Do not cover your eyes here or hide your shape that appears so unseemly to your skewed vision. Here is the reflection of your true self that is able to look at its image and smile. This tiny form contains you as beloved and acceptance is yours to receive.

We all come, we scarred and smashed, we broken and battered, we weary and wounded. We adored. There is miraculously room for all to gaze and know, in one awestruck moment of seeing, that this baby boy is our centre, the middle of all things, the stone dropped in the centre of the ocean of the universe, rippling out in waves of wonder that will captivate us and draw us in to love.

Mary’s Robe

Mary and Joseph

White lily sepalled in blue linen, the moon and stars swaddled by sky, you sing to us of innocence and grace, of fierce obedience and the greatest “Yes,” ever given. May it be as you have said. Let the lowly come crowding in, hailing your sweet fragrance, and the rich and mighty leave with nothing. First holy host, round and glowing, we await the birthing of God’s son from you, even as we wait upon our own mustard seeds of faith to grow to fullness. May you always be wrapped in the majestic colour of lapis lazuli that adorns the throne room floor, and be fitted as the Queen of Heaven.

Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt  Composite art “Mary and Joseph” by R R Wyatt  © used with permission.

On Christmas


It’s Christmas Eve, and all over the house, not a creature is stirring, apart from parents desperately trying to wrap everything, get as much prepared for the feast as possible, not wake the kids and make sure everything is perfect. They might flop into bed for a few snatched hours before the children rise bright eyed and expectant, sweet for a little while, but soon to become sugar-fuelled tornadoes.

Christmas has become a sort of monster, a festive mouth yawning wide with tinselled teeth, waiting to devour all our time, money and energy. For many in the west, it has become a time when we are surrounded by abundance, and yet cannot find the peace or the joy at the heart of it all. We know it’s there somewhere, maybe it’s the present that is buried right at the back of the tree, under all the piles.

For others, there will not be enough this year. There might be fewer presents. Someone who should be here is not. A job, or an opportunity may have got lost somewhere along the year, and honestly, it’s a miracle there’s even a bag of sprouts. Others are all alone, facing another special day with only the tv for company and a ready meal for one as their feast. Still others are too ill to enjoy anything, or are in hospital or deployed in another country.

Even for those who seem to have it all sorted, no matter how bright the lights, how big the turkey, how tall the tree, something is not quite right with all this. There is an emptiness at the heart of it all. We’ve forgotten why we are doing  it, and we all feel as though we are missing out.

I think we have been got at by the spirit of Anti-Christmas, which seeks to wrap nothing very much in a swathe of santa paper and glitter, to con us with tinsel, to distract us with bargains until we are dizzy with the meaningless expense of it all.

Oh, we all know what it’s supposed to be about, the joy of the saviour’s arrival, a little baby born in a stable, we know the nativity story and we might even be singing, or watching our children sing, some of the festive carols. We bluster about keeping Christ in Christmas and we bristle when we are made to say Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings, but do we have any real idea why?

The real scandal of Christmas, the truth that the enemy cannot stand, the reason that he tries to draw our eyes away with schmaltz and sparkle, is that the Christmas story is about the upside down kingdom of God. Christmas is about the impossible made real, the scandal of God incarnate screaming his new lungs out in an animal trough, the scandal, really of God’s grace, the foolishness of giving the world his heart on a plate, the unspeakable risk of it, the audacious vulnerability of birthing himself into poverty, into a place where the world will seek almost immediately to murder him: the pouring himself forth into our poor, stricken, greedy, violent lives.

It is ludicrous, and yet it makes perfect sense. Our holy God, accepting such smallness, the infinite restricting himself to the tiny. The Word becoming a speechless child. It paves the way for the Prince of Peace to be violently killed. It tells us that we serve a self-emptying, obedient, impossibly loving God who will risk everything, suffer everything, with us. Immanuel, the incarnation, born of a poor maiden, into a world that can’t even be bothered to make room for him.

The wonder of it is too much for our hardened hearts to understand, most of the time. We never come close to grasping it. We could meditate on it all year round and still be left shaking our heads in perplexed awe.

I don’t know how we can pass up the trappings and frippery of Christmas in order to actually focus on the real gift we are being given. Maybe we don’t need to, some of them, after all, are fun, and Jesus is certainly something worth celebrating! “What about the children?” or “We are doing if for the children!” is what we cry out in defence of our traditions. Well, that’s fine. But lets’ do the right things for the right reasons, for our children. Maybe we can simplify things a little, so that there is more time. Maybe we can give gifts where they are really needed. There are a million blogs out there today that will tell you how. I’m not concerned about that. We can all celebrate how we would like to.

All I want for Christmas is for people to be released from the pressure of the fantasy of the “perfect” Christmas, and into the truth that God is with us and God is for us. God is prepared to burst screaming onto a hay-strewn floor, prepared to learn to walk and talk, prepared to spend time with us, prepared to be vulnerable, patient, loving, kind, generous, in the face of our selfishness, prepared to suffer, prepared to die for us, prepared to give himself up for love even if nobody ever notices or even thanks him. He is prepared to be the child born to a couple far from home behind a hotel. He is even prepared to be the unseen miracle at the heart of a winter feast. May we each of us catch a glimpse of his holy humility this Christmas.  God bless us, every one.


”In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:


Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!


Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.


(Philippians 2: 5-11 NIV)

Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt, photo from Pixabay