This is the first in a series of poems about Christmas, this Christmas. Through the framing device of the five Advent candles that mark the progression of the season in various Christian traditions, they will attempt to speak the truth about Christmas in congregant care, both to and from those experiencing it.
Prologue: Candles aren’t allowed here Not even at Christmastime There are too many bodies Making this group home a home. Everything is risky, These days, and that is why Everyone is home this year For Christmas without candles. We have those lights that flicker We have the fireplace channel But those can’t keep us warm So let’s do something else. If we can’t light the candles Or go to church to see them We’ll have to be the candles And say our names out loud: I. Faith Sometimes it seems like all We’ve done this year is try To keep the virus out And look! We mostly have. We have faith that this won’t last That this sickness will end In glory, not in death, but We know sometimes they’re the same. We have lost so many friends But we have faith that Jesus Knows just where to find them And there’s nowhere he won’t go.
And then Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Just imagine. You’re going to see your older relative, and you’re filled with this news that might be from God and also might have been a dream and might mean the end of your marriage that hasn’t even begun, and might mean your death (you could be stoned for having sex outside of marriage in those days). So, you, Mary, have no idea how to tell Elizabeth or what she will say. Maybe she will think you’re losing your mind and hallucinating. Maybe she will shun you like your religion says she should. Maybe however she responds will be a signal of how the rest of the world will respond. So Mary gets there, and she doesn’t say anything to Elizabeth about being pregnant. She simply says hello. As soon as she says hello, Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Elizabeth, without knowing that an angel has visited, without knowing any of the details, echoes the words the angel has spoken.