The Third Sunday of Advent: to Bethlehem the town of David by Jeremiah Brown

Today at the Cathedral View More
8:00am Morning Prayer
8:30am Doors open for sightseeing
8:30am Eucharist
12:30pm Eucharist
4:00pm Last entry for sightseeing
5:00pm Solemn Vespers sung by the Choir of Westminster Cathedral for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
5:30pm Cathedral closes

The Third Sunday of Advent: to Bethlehem the town of David by Jeremiah Brown

The Third Sunday in Advent - 16 December

to Bethlehem the town of David
by Jeremiah Brown

Jeremiah ‘SugarJ’ Brown is a Croydon based poet. He has performed at a range of venues including the Roundhouse, Southbank Centre, and Birmingham NEC Arena. He is a Barbican Young Poet, a member of Spit The Atom poetry collective and one of the faces of Nationwide’s ‘Voices’ ad campaign. Other commissions include St Paul’s Cathedral and Totally Thames. His poetry has taken him to several festivals including Lovebox, Citadel and Walthamstow Garden Party.

In the beginning my eyes were formless
all around me was dark,
and the Spirit of God hovered on amniotic waters.

Maybe we travelled by donkey
maybe that’s what the rhythm, the movement was.

Two voices spoke to me,
a soft rumble and one more musical.
“We are travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem” they said.
“Caesar Augustus has decreed a census” they said.
“His name means exalted” they said.
“His empire is the world” they said.

Abba works in mysterious ways.
They called it a census, for their taxes and wars.
It is divine, providence, Father’s plan.
Did they not know? Had they not heard?
Out of Bethlehem was to come a ruler.
By Caesar’s acts Micah was justified,
through a pagan the prophet’s words were fulfilled.

The rhythm of our journey went in cycles,
we moved when the sun pushed
then rested when the moon tugged.

“Augustus means exalted” said the rumble
one night before we were pulled into rest,
that “his empire is the world.”

Strange are the things you hear in the dark.
A man’s kingdom cannot stretch further than God’s.

The things of that empire passed away
but in its lowliest parts eternity was born.


The rhythm of our journey went in cycles. 

Like the baby Jesus still in Mary’s womb, our journey is often not of our own volition, but we are carried for the purposes of others. How many of us now live in towns and cities other than those in which we were born? How many in a country, in a language, in a culture different from that which our parents knew? Sometimes the journey isn’t physical, a change of circumstances, of status, of confidence, of health, of opportunity. We hope for the soft and musical voices of those we love, because even a change for the better is frightening in its possibilities, in its unknown-ness. And we wait, for the sun, the moon, the next cycle, we wait. Strange are the things you hear in the dark, when distractions of the light are gone and it is only you and God left, to talk. Am I on the right path? What happens next? Please, the strength to see this through. Please, the strength to wait. Thank you. Abba works in mysterious ways, what comes next is often not what we expected, what we wanted, what we thought we wanted. In the lowliest part of a great Empire eternity was born.

In this time of Advent we can pause and reflect on the journeys in our own lives. To allow the larger picture into focus, to remind ourselves how far we have come, not just have much further we still have to go. To remember that it isn’t always the grand gesture, the big moment, that makes the difference but the quiet ones, the unexpected ones, the surprise. To allow ourselves to be open to the next step, no matter how difficult or unlikely it may seem. To wait, in faith, for the next cycle.