At the census in the city – We welcome Christmas Day

1	At the census in the city, 
	at the crossing place of life, 
	where the homeless and abandoned 
	share the scars of human strife; 
	mid the rubble and the ruins 
	shedding God's prophetic light
	see, a star is softly shining 
	through the horror of the night.

2	In the cross of shifting shadows 
	see a mother and her child, 
	see the wetness of his features, 
	freshly born, so not yet filed. 
	In a world of cold statistics 
	yet another mouth to feed, 
	for the parents' love holds tension 
	with a calling, crying need.

3	So from Bethlehem in history 
	to this present place and time, 
	God has entered human anguish, 
	sung in tune to human rhyme; 
	yes, the baby that we welcome, 
	yes, the Christ of Palestine, 
	are as one, we seal remembrance 
	in a feast of bread and wine. 	
        [signature of love's design.]* 

4	For the ruin of the manger, 
	this prefig'ring of the cross, 
	offers Christ as our relation 
	in our chaos and our loss, 
	puts the Christ into the present, 
	places God in human hands, 
	tests our loving and our living 
	here in this and every land.

*for use when there is no communion

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2003 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd
Metre: 8 7 8 7 D
Tunes: BETHANY (Smart); ABBOTS LEIGH

Preparing for Christmas…a hymn…Christmas is real…

Today (Monday 20th of December) as I prepared to post this hymn it seemed especially pertinent. Though written over twelve years ago I still need the help of the revelation of Christmas to erase my selfishness. Then I heard the news of rising COVID being interrupted by reports of dead children, the  reminder of killings in Myanmar and a typhoon having caused many deaths in the Philippines some days ago. News I’d rather not hear, but in all my celebration, ought not to ignore.

Christmas is real when the cost that we measure
reaches the manger and touches the skies,
shop fronts give way to divine revelation,
God is among us and selfishness dies.
	
Christmas is real when the gifts that are given
mirror the love of this God upon earth,
God who is known in self-giving and loving 
crowning our poverty, coming to birth.
	
Christmas still echoed when screams of the children, 
slaughtered by Herod inflamed people's fear.
Christmas remains when the trees and the tinsel 
make way for news that we'd rather not hear.
	
Christmas is real when we enter the squalor
mirrored in Bethlehem so long ago; 
off'ring the love that was seen in the God-head, 
total self-giving not baubles and show.

Andrew E. Pratt
Words © 2008 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd
Metre:11 10 11 10
Tune: EPIPHANY HYMN

As we celebrate Christmas may we be open to the need around about us, and let us continue our journey through Holy Innocents, Epiphany and Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple.