Tag Archives: christmas
Extract from “Cider with Rosie” by Laurie Lee
Mile after mile we went, fighting against the wind, falling into snowdrifts, and navigating by the lights of the houses. And yet we never saw our audience. We called at house after house; we sang in courtyards and porches, outside windows, or in the damp gloom of hallways; we heard voices from hidden rooms; we smelt rich clothes and strange hot food; we saw maids bearing in dishes or carrying away coffee cups; we received nuts, cakes, figs, preserved ginger, dates, cough-drops and money; but we never once saw our patrons.
Eventually we approached our last house high up on the hill, the place of Joseph the farmer. For him we had chosen a special carol, which was about the other Joseph, so that we always felt that singing it added a spicy cheek to the night.
We grouped ourselves round the farmhouse porch. The sky cleared and broad streams of stars ran down over the valley and away to Wales. On Slad’s white slopes, seen through the black sticks of its woods, some red lamps burned in the windows.
Everything was quiet: everywhere there was the faint crackling silence of the winter night. We started singing, and we were all moved by the words and the sudden trueness of our voices. Pure, very clear, and breathless we sang:
|‘As Joseph was a-walking
He heard an angel sing;
‘This night shall be the birth-time
Of Christ the Heavenly King.
He neither shall be born
In Housen nor in hall
Not in a place of paradise
But in an ox’s stall …..
And two thousand Christmases became real to us then; The houses, the halls, the places of paradise had all been visited; The stars were bright to guide the Kings through the snow; and across the farmyard we could hear the beasts in their stalls. We were given roast apples and hot mince pies, in our nostrils were spices like myrrh, and in our wooden box, as we headed back for the village, there were golden gifts for all
An old Russian tale tells of Prince Alexis
He lived in a luxurious palace, while all around him the peasantry existed in squalor, poverty, and misery.
Alexis was moved with compassion at their plight, and wanted to help in some way.
He left his luxurious surroundings, and walked amongst them, but he had no point of real contact. They were in awe of him, and treated him with great deference and respect.
Therefore, he could not win their confidence or affection.
His visit to them proved futile, and he returned to the palace, a defeated and disappointed man.
Some time later, a very different man came among the people. He was rough and ready, with no airs or graces. He was a doctor who wanted to devote his life to helping the poor.
He rented a vermin-infested shack, and lived amongst them. He wore old and tattered clothes. He ate plain, simple, peasant food, and, most times, he did not know where his next meal would come from.
He made no money because he treated the people free, and gave away his medicines.
Consequently, he won great respect and was loved by the people in quite a different way to their Prince, Alexis.
He was one of them. And he managed to transform the place. Not only did he minister to them as their doctor; he also settled quarrels and reconciled enemies. He helped make better lives.
Eventually, of course, his secret was discovered. The doctor was none other then Prince Alexis himself. Alexis had deliberately abandoned the palace and gone down to the people and lived amongst them……to fully identify with them in their need and in their suffering, in order to help them and make their lives happier and stronger.
Jesus said ‘I have come to give life, life in all its fullness, life in abundance.’ In Jesus Christ, God left his lofty heavenly home, to come down into the human condition – to be like us – to be for us and with us…..God Incarnate….Emmanuel…..whose coming we greet at this Holy time.