Bethlehem, Year Zero (An Advent Poem)

As 2020 comes to a close, I’ve noticed many folks make a comparison between the imperfections of our Christmas plans this year, and the difficulties of the first Advent. This poem is my attempt to capture something of that (YouTube version here):

This year none of the pieces are in place,
no finishing touch,
just the rush,
to make the best of things –
more make-do, than make-believe,
a clambering to retrieve
family under one roof,
to pluck some safety from the dragon’s teeth,
to make a place for joy again,
long looked for after labour pains,
the grace to hold our griefs
in one hand,
and with the other, just hold on.

This year has no precedent,
just more numbers from the government,
just more bitterness of argument,
sick hearts retching on hope deferred,
reading tight between the lines
for a Word
that might flare across the firmament
and speak deliverance.

But this year, we have made the best of things,
found shelter here against the odds,
adapted what has come to hand
rested in the grander plan
that underwrites this circumstance,
sees grace instead of blinded chance,
and lays in this manger ark
the Best beside the worst,
the Light amidst the dark,
the King among the filth.
And Mary cradles at her breast
the head of one who from obscurity
will carry heaven’s destiny
through thorn to crown,
dandles with her hand the heel
that, promised from eternity,
will crush King Death into the ground.

This year, we have no normal,
new or old,
but a different day,
a dawn,
a moment long foretold,
now here,
this year.


  1. Andrew, I would like your permission to share this with the congregation I serve. Blessings, Tom



    1. Hi Tom. Many thanks for your message and thanks for checking. Please feel free to use this poem. There is a video version now on YouTube, or I can email you the HD file if you need it. Lord bless, Andrew


  2. And capture it you have. Beautifully composed. Thank you.

    Could I have permission to share this with members of my prayer fellowship? I would give full acknowledgement of you as the writer and also mention Thinking Pastorally.


  3. Thank you for this. You made a beautiful comparison of the 2020 advent to the first advent, in a beautiful form.
    May I share this and link the YouTube video on my personal Facebook page? I have reader friends who would be greatly encouraged and blessed by it.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!


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