Sunday, 18 December 2016


For this Sunday, a poem by John V Taylor, former Bishop of Winchester, from his “Christmas Sequence”. It is a wonderfully textured poem, with meanings to be teased out by the reader. It is not perhaps, something one would expect from a Bishop of Winchester, but Taylor was a poet, priest and prophet.

I've selected as the photo this still from the BBC Nativity where Gabriel comes to Mary. It is done in a very naturalistic way, and yet in some subtle means that it is hard to pin down, gives the viewer the knowledge that this is somehow not an ordinary encounter: the extraordinary breaks in through the ordinary. And something of that quality, I think, is captured in John Taylor's poem.

By John V Taylor

But don't imagine you were the only
highly favoured one. There's no security
against this breaking and entering. We too
have felt the press, that excess
of presence cramming the breathless room
and, afterwards, the millstone of a new
life to be nurtured in secret.
The months mantled as prophets shuffled
past, scanning in sharper outline
the predicted flesh this God had taken
of concept, enterprise, or song.

All we lacked was your strength. Some chose
to terminate the obsession and make
out with mourning ghosts, while those
grown big with beauty crying to be told,
wrestled in sweat and groped to take
hold and thrust it into the light,
knowing before the end that what they
carried was a dead thing. Mother of God,
now and at the hour of his birth,
pray that we see alive between your hands
the poem we did not write.

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