This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future’s
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.
And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.
Before Christ – BC:AD – Anno Domini (the year of the Lord) or before and after as U.A. Fanthorpe puts it in her poem. And her before and after focuses on that infinitesimal nanosecond between the two ‘when nothing happened’ and the Romans had nothing better to do than count heads, and yet is the point at which Jesus was born and everything happened to the point that the reckoning of time in the then known world changed. What an amazing moment when God came to earth and was born as a helpless baby and yet for most people at the time it was just another moment when nothing happened.
Much is being discussed on the media of whether Christmas can be celebrated this year but most people today only celebrate the social trappings that have become associated with the festival and have become traditional in a relatively short space of time: the exact opposite of Fanthorpe’s description of Jesus’ birth. What a contrast of the non-celebration of the most amazing nanosecond in history and the obscenely extravagant celebrations of nothing in most people’s lives. With the benefit of hind-sight we can celebrate that amazing moment in history, not with an overspend on excesses of food and drink and unwanted gifts, but with real rejoicing in our hearts, with joy in our voices in well-known carols as our minds remember again God’s gift of Hope, Jesus, come to save us. Let us share it with everyone we come into contact with, as and when we can!