This time around there was no doubt;
The stars were watched, signs read aright,
And urgent messengers sent out
To find the new babe born that night.
Then, his precise location learned,
All of the earth's great leaders went
To see the Saviour who'd returned;
Both CEO and President,
Dictators, UN delegates,
Church clerics with their solemn prayers,
Fund managers and heads of states,
And all the Forbes list billionaires.
While to the east and west was beamed
The breaking news: "Christ born again!"
With updates and live footage streamed
To YouTube and to CNN;
Then -- the announcer's voice here broke --
Before the crib they humbly knelt
And, Teleprompted, smoothly spoke
In tones sincere and truly felt;
"O Child, both light and life you bring --
O Child, what would you have us do?
What gifts to give, what hymns to sing
To reverence and honor you?"
"O, bring to me no gems or gold,
But honor others in their need
And freely give the wealth you hold,
To vanquish now your ravening greed;
And sing no hymn, but rather hear
From all around the desperate cries;
Go forth to help both far and near
The multitudes that you despise;
No more exploit, but fairly pay
Each of the workers you employ
And let all children learn and play,
So each may know a life of joy.
And let the air be fresh and clean,
And let my creatures freely roam,
And turn your ravaged wastes to green
So all may share this world as home.
All conflict cease, all debts forgive;
Seek those you've scorned to make amends;
And from this day forth truly live
The precepts each of you pretends.
And speak no longer in my name
Nor put my image to misuse
For all your deeds of greatest shame
Have taken me as your excuse."
The simple words rang clear and stark;
Applause was heard worldwide -- but lo!
The faces of the kings grew dark
And all their tone was one of woe.
The angry mutters filled the room:
"Such sacrifice, such rapid change...
It's quite a lot that you presume.
What do you offer in exchange?
Indeed, an infant still (though crowned
By some quirk of astronomy) --
How could you know such things are bound
To wreck the world economy?"
"My Father's world so bright and fair
Was made not for your kind alone
But for my creatures everywhere;
How dare you claim it as your own?
How dare with casual cruelty take
My Father's gift of human life
And buy and barter it to make
A pawn in all your scheming strife?
Now, through the time of your own birth,
I offer you this chance unique:
Together make this fragile Earth
The longed-for paradise all seek.
Who heeds the warning that I bring?
Who comes in answer to my call?
For if you seek to be a king,
A servant you must be to all."
The seven billions rejoiced;
The lords all tore their clothes and wept
And ominous predictions voiced
As, innocent, the Christ Child slept,
And looking on without a word
The cleric who had found the place;
Head humbly bowed at what he'd heard,
A thoughtful smile upon his face.
The servers crashed, the press phones rang,
Stocks slumped, and Tweets flew thick and fast,
While in the streets the flash mobs sang
The ancient fallen age had passed;
And as the new dawn brilliant broke --
The cheers rose high, the chimes rang wild --
In slipped the one who never spoke
And silent slew the sleeping child.
Previous Advent Canticle entries:
Prelude (An Advent Canticle)
"He came without clamor" (December 1, An Advent Canticle)
"O in the fields the blossoms blow" (December 2, An Advent Canticle)
"It started in November" (December 3, An Advent Canticle)
"It was the usual tedious family gathering" (December 4, An Advent Canticle)
"It started with the news that Caspar brought." (December 5, An Advent Canticle)
"Varus, old boy, it's been a dreadful year." (December 6, An Advent Canticle)
"Lully, lullay, lullaby" (December 7, An Advent Canticle)
"And so at last diplomacy had failed..." (December 8, An Advent Canticle)
"Come, open your eyes..." (Prelude II, December 9, An Advent Canticle)
"And every year the weather gets more squirrely" (Dec. 10, An Advent Canticle)
"Fear Not!" (December 11, An Advent Canticle)
"I quit!" (December 12, An Advent Canticle)
"Midwinter Nocturne" (December 13, An Advent Canticle)
"Some say, on that first morning..." (December 14, An Advent Canticle)
"For the Children of the Sandy Hook Tragedy" (December 15, An Advent Canticle)
"On Employees Who Take Too Much Initiative" (December 16, An Advent Canticle)
"Sing a New Song..." (December 17, An Advent Canticle)