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Thursday, 17 December 2015

A Festive Crown of Thorns

"The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn."

Walking out in the half-light this morning and struck by an image. A door with four glass panels, and hung on a nail on the central cross of wood, a crown of thorns.

The analogy is not new, as the carol reminds us. A north European tree - symbol, so they say, of enduring life. An evergreen tree, carrying hope and life through the shortest days and darkest nights of the year.

And in bending those prickly branches to a welcoming circle, an everlasting truth and a horror is woven into being. A festive dance becomes an instrument of torture. A crown of thorns, through all centuries awaiting the coming of the true God, priest and king.

The berries - the things that give food to the birds of the air (whose very feathers are numbered). They carry the ones who feed on them through the dark times, shining bright even in snow and the hardest of frosts. They shine as red as wine. As red as holy blood on a Judean hillside.

And so they hang on the doors this expectant Advent morning. The thorns of pain, the bloodberries. A crown awaits the baby king before his birth.

And I walk down the lane, and in shadow each festive door carries its own, unknowing message of incarnation and sacrifice.

A crown of thorns
A crown of thorns
A crown of thorns.....

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