Andrew Roycroft is a pastor and poet from Northern Ireland. New Irish Arts commissioned this poem this year, and artist Ross Wilson contributed a new painting for it. Merry Christmas from the Rabbit Room. God is with us.
Darkness, unspeakable and unspeaking Darkness. Silence, not of contemplation, Nor of craning, halt-breathed expectation, But silence of the now non-verbal God, Void quiet, out-of-form condemnation. This is all, for generation after Generation, ten times over, silence, Darkness, a people un-peopled, distant.
Now, over the deep of barren gloom, over The depths of a barren womb, life breathes again. An angel breaking rank speaks, “Zechariah! Your wife will bear a son, even now when Tears of youth have dried in age, acceptance Must now give way, for the Messiah will Have one to speak his name – like the gathering Of light in glowering clouds before the sun Casts off the shroud of night, and breaks a Day Whose only end will be consummation On the Final Day. John must speak these things.”
This child, unexpected, now new-expected Leaps to greet the One in Mary’s womb to Whom he will witness among darkened minds; Leaps at the sheer presence of this Other, The incarnate God, who now is woven, Worked into human form within his mother’s form.
But still, darkness. The keen-eyed Simeon Who will not see death til he sees the Son, Waits in faith amidst the oblivion Of broken law, and these stricken lives Who know no mercy, only sacrifice. And Anna, rising every day, shuffles Through the Temple bounds, praying, that the Lord Would ground these redemption words, long left off.
Light, unspoken and unspeakable light Breaks now. The Word at last made flesh, he comes, He comes, the Son of God eternal comes! Into the broken yards of drought-dry bones Into the blasphemy of our godless scraping by, Into our hearts he comes, transcendent God, The Son, the majestic uncompounded Lord, He comes, the timeless One unbounded, The world-by-his-word forming King Can now be found at an address, in the mess Of our neighbourhood, in the flesh of our Personhood, he comes the one who is wholly, Holy Other, he comes to be our Saviour Our Messiah, our Lamb and Lion Lord and light, our deliverer Who will carry our shame though not ashamed To call us brothers. He comes, and all our Words though wide as worlds, and all our songs Though voiced in grandest composition Can never carry the incomparable weight Of this one who comes, whose incarnation Is our hope, our joy, heaven’s confirmation That though light from us was long withheld God has shattered the sin that was our hell He comes, he has come, Immanuel.
Painting by Ross Wilson