John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Advent 2009: St. Stephen's Day

December 25 is Christmas pretty much everywhere, but the day after Christmas goes by many different names: Boxing Day in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, Wren Day in Ireland, Proclamation Day in South Australia, and Thanksgiving in the Solomon Islands, the Day of Goodwill in South Africa, Independence and Unity Day in Slovenia, the first day of Kwanzaa, and Christmas After Day. That last one is probably used only by me. It's also St. Stephen's day in the western church. Stephen was the protomartyr, the very first person put to death for his faith. He was stoned to death by an angry mob in Jerusalem; see Acts 6-7 if you want the details.

For my part, I'm spending Christmas After Day relaxing after a busy Christmas Eve and Christmas. I got home from my third Christmas Even service around 1:30 AM or so, then got a few hours sleep before picking up my nephew David and driving up to Gettysburg to my brother's house for gift opening and hanging out with the family. From there we were off to Chambersburg to my sister-in-law's sister's house for a later Christmas lunch and a little more gift opening. Then it was off to Lebanon to see one more member of the family and to open more gifts. Then, a three-hour drive home. Phew! But fun.

St. Stephen's Day

Yesterday the gentle
Story; the summoning star,
Shepherd and beast and king
In the enchanted ring,
The moment still with awe.

Shepherd and beast and king
Wince at a cry:
It is no newborn cry
For he is asleep,
But a cry alerting night.

Who saw the hanging star
Shudder and fall?
I, Stephen, saw
Fragments of hot stone
Whistle down, smite the earth.

Stones thud on flesh,
The bestial mob howls,
No kings are here to witness.
Yesterday birth blood,
Today pulped flesh and death blood

Streaming from broken eyes:
Yet the triumphant cry
I see my God.
So was the first day
After the gentle birth.

Patric Dickinson (1914–1994)

Previous Advent posts:

2003: The Jesus Room
2004: Pax with a Miniature of the Nativity
2005: Happy Chanukah!
2006: All's Noel That Ends Noel; Or, Incompatibility is the Spice of Christmas
2007: Madonna and Child
2008: Good King Wenceslas

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Tags: poet's corner
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