In the title of his poem “Blind Noel” Welsh poet R.S. Thomas puts together two words we do not expect to see together and so alerts us to what we might not be prepared for as we read. And yet we can grasp this strange imagery if we live in a place where any given Christmas could bring a blinding snowstorm.

Blind Noel

Christmas; the themes are exhausted.

Yet there is always room

on the heart for another

snowflake to reveal a pattern.

Love knocks with such frosted fingers.

I look out. In the shadow

of so vast a God I shiver, unable

to detect the child for the whiteness.

The poem reminds me that behind the snug manger scene and all the well-worn Christmas themes is a vast and blinding God of raw power. Not a tame or safe God, but one who should evoke awe if we really peer into his vastness.

God, please give your people a fresh vision of Christmas. Please do not let us settle into the cozy warmth of Christmas tree lights, candles, eggnog, ceramic crèche on the mantelpiece, and “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” on TV. These are comforting themes, but please do not let us fall asleep in our chair there. Knock with frosted fingers on our door. Knock until we wake up, get out of the chair, go to the door and open it. And may we shiver at what we see – your vastness, blinding white as a snowstorm, obscuring the manager for a moment so we can see what is behind.

And yet what knocks with frosted fingers is love! Your love is behind all this blinding power. Your love is behind this just-birthed baby.

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