Tag Archives: Bethlehem
The “Coventry Carol ” is a Christmas Carol dating from the 16th century. The carol was performed in Coventry in England as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story from chapter two in the Gospel of Matthew. The carol refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants two years old and under inBethlehem to be killed. The lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother’s lament for her doomed child. It is the only carol that has survived from this play. The author is unknown. The oldest known text was written down by Robert Croo in 1534, and the oldest known printing of the melody dates from 1591. The carol is traditionally sung a cappella.
Joseph and Mary can’t make it to Bethlehem, on Banksy’s Christmas card
Today in Bethlehem
Today in Bethlehem, today in Bethlehem
(there is) merry news
That the pure Maiden, that the pure Maiden
Has borne a son
Christ is born
He’s going to deliver us
The angels are playing (music)
The kings are bidding welcome
The shepherds are singing
The cattle are kneeling
Wonders, wonders do they announce
Mary the Maiden, Mary the Maiden
Is nursing the child
And Saint Joseph and Saint Joseph
He’s taking care of Her
Although in a little barn, although in a little barn
The Maiden is bearing Her son
After all He’ll soon, after all He’ll soon
deliver the people
And the Three Kings, and the Three Kings
arrived from the east
and they gathered precious
gifts for the Lord, gifts for the Lord
Let’s go, too, let’s go, too
and bid welcome to Jesus
King of Kings, King of Kings
to adore Jesus
“Say it with flowers!” I’m sure florists all over the land have been inundated during the last few days with orders for bouquets, sprays, and posies.
Today, of course, is Mothering Sunday, and what symbolises the love we feel today, and the joy we feel today, than the beautiful gift of a flower….and particularly that of a rose…
“Enough the rose was heaven to smell” – that’s a fine line….
…yes, there is something special, beautiful, almost heavenly about a rose.
It is a thing of beauty; a thing of joy. Roses and rejoicing go well together.
The Prophet Isaiah when talking of the future glory of Zion writes:
The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose
He seems to link the rejoicing of the people with the blossoming of the rose.
The rose – it symbolises fertility, joy, success – it is something to be prized.
It’s not new, however, this giving of a rose to a worthy recipient at this time of year, you know
On the fourth Sunday in Lent, a Golden Rose, an ornament was given by the Roman Catholic Church to worthy women as well as men as a mark of special favour – rather like the Oscars of their day.
It’s said that the tradition dates back a long way to the time of the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, when, supposedly, a bud or flower sprouted on Joseph’s staff or rod – an indication that he was the man Mary should become engaged to & a fulfilment of the prophesy:
There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him
Somewhere along the line, this tale got less concerned with the birth of the Saviour and more with his mother. Artists in the Middle Ages liked to depict the happy couple, Mary & Joseph, together at the scene of their betrothal – rod, bud, flower and all. And a caption was often to be found beneath the picture: “She is the flower, she is the rose” referring, of course, to Mary
The Rose….in her were the virtues of the rose – sensitivity, beauty, serenity.
Think of her life – a life of love, a life of piety
Think on these early years – told that she had been chosen to give birth to God’s own son;
then the journey to Bethlehem;
and the flight to Egypt –
– all done calmly, faithfully – for the love of God and of her child.
Then think of all the times when Jesus did or said things that she couldn’t comprehend – and on occasion said things that must have hurt her very much
But the love was still there in Mary’s heart
The whole Jesus-story must have seemed like a ghastly riddle to which there was no clue. But she accepted it all – in love, in faith.
A mother’s love never dies. It goes on even to the point of death, even when the crowds and the laughter and the support of the people are gone. There she stands at the foot of the Cross, love still blossoming in her heart.
We learn a lot about love from our mothers. Jesus would learn about love – not only through our Heavenly Father’s Spirit – but also at his mother’s knee From Mary the Rose – Jesus was much indebted…perhaps more than we would credit him for.
And his too was a love that never died just as Mary’s before him. Love does indeed conquer all. Love never gives up.
Let me finish with two different pieces of verse.
The first a stanza from a song which was in a movie called ‘The Rose’ It’s talking about love of a different kind, but we may use it for our own purposes here:
“When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long;
When you think that love is only
For the lucky and for the strong –
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose”
And this – a 16th Century carol:
Lo, how a rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesus’ lineage coming
As men of old have sung.
It came a flower-et bright
Amid the cold of winter
When half spent was the night
The Rose Love It may seemed buried and dead But the seed is always there, ready to burst forth in blossom, in all its glory. And after every Good Friday comes Easter morn.
Some years ago this happened on a London-bound train
A ticket inspector came across an elderly man – shabbily dressed and somewhat disreputable looking – sitting in a first-class compartment of the train.
This was OBVIOUSLY not a first-class traveller, and, indeed, when asked for his ticket, the old fellow fumbled in his pocket for a few minutes – but without finding it.
The inspector then told the man that he’d give him five more minutes to find it. He then left the compartment, but instead of checking out the other passengers, he waited at the end of the corridor, certain that the old chap would make a sharp exit at the next station.
But he didn’t. When next approached, the old man was full of apologies as he produced the necessary ticket.
On arrival at Euston, the inspector spotted him on the platform, beckoning to a porter to help him with his luggage.
But, when halfway towards him, the porter suddenly changed direction to take the luggage of a very smart and expensively dressed woman.
Seeing this happen, and feeling ashamed of misjudging the elderly shabbily dressed man, the inspector volunteered to carry his cases.
At the taxi rank, the old man took out his wallet and handed the inspector a very generous tip.
Then he said, ‘Do me a favour – tell that porter what I gave you for carrying my luggage, and then tell him never to judge a book by its cover’
The inspector agreed, found the porter, and told him what had happened.
‘Well,’ replied the porter, ‘should you see that gentleman again, tell him that the well dressed lady, whose case I carried, is blind.
‘She’s a regular traveller, and, whenever I’m free, I help her and NEVER take a penny for it. Tell him to apply his words to himself!’
How often we reach quick and easy conclusions – so often based on how a person looks or behaves or where he or she comes from – and how often we get it wrong.
We are too quick, too ready, to rush to judgement
If the reapers in Christ’s parable had had their way, they would have tried to tear out the weeds – and that would have meant tearing out the good wheat with them.
Judgement, says Jesus, should be left to the final harvest – in God’s time.
The only person to judge is God himself.
There’s a story told in the Old Testament about Samuel, who was directed by God to find and anoint a new King for Israel.
Samuel went to Bethlehem to look at the sons of a man named Jesse. He looked at all of them, and some we’re told were handsome and strong and the likeliest of candidates…but, in the end, it was Jesse’s youngest son, a boy called David who was out in the fields looking after the sheep, who was to be God’s favourite. The least likely son became King.
But, as that Old Testament story tells us ‘Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart’