Following Yonder Star

The Three Wise Men by James McConnell


Following Yonder Star

“…there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

When we first saw the star, we knew.
The whole of our lives we were waiting for signs,
And here was just such a clue –
And oh, what a clue !  How she shimmers and shines.
What is her news ?
A King of the Jews !
And just in time for the midwinter feast !
A saviour is born,
So set off at dawn,
And follow His star in the east.

As we followed that star, we thought
That our route would take us a strange way yet –
For if Judea were sought,
Then why does she lead us on into Tibet ?
But on we must trek
With the star as our check,
Until the ocean was stopping us dead.
So we chartered a ship
To continue our trip,
Because she was waiting ahead.

So we followed the star by sea –
Always due east would she lead our band,
Until we wise men three
Were finally washed on an unknown land.
And on we went
’Cross the continent
And strange were the people and customs upon.
Then at the next moat
We hadn’t a boat,
So we build one – and so we sailed on.

And we followed the star some more,
Across the African sands we were coming,
Until at last at the Jewish shore
We reached the land for which we were plumbing.
We took from our camels
Fine skins and enamels,
And spices and lapis, all fit for a priest,
And strange silks and feathers
We’d gathered together
From all of the lands of the east.

We knew we could trust her, we sighed,
She brought us all safe where we needed to be.
Now where is the child ?  we cried,
Where is the one who we travelled to see ?
We told the bazaar
How we followed the star
To the King of the Jews, of whom we bespeak.
Then up spoke an urchin –
“How long you been searching ?
They just nailed that guy up last week.”

Waiting for the Adoration

Nativity Scene by Craig Mitchell


Waiting for the Adoration

Twelve days waiting in a barn for them, we were,
For two weeks, nearly, with the horses.
Two weeks of waiting for a bit of gold and myrrh,
And a warning not to fall to Herod’s forces.

The shepherds came by early, but they couldn’t stay for long:
As they’d left their sheep all grazing in the pasture.
(I hoped the wolves weren’t prowling, nor the north-wind blowing strong,
And their truancy not noticed by their master.)

Surely now the census had been tallied up and done,
There must have been some room back in the inn ?
But there we slept, and waited, till the angel told us “Run”…
…Or was it we went home, back to our kin ?

And that, my lad, is how you spent a fortnight in a manger,
Upon the hay – or so we’ve always spun.
They must have used the Julian, those fine-attired strangers,
While you were pure Gregorian, my son !



The Seven Days of Christmas



The Seven Days of Christmas

On the first next day, I sent my sweetheart’s way
The final gift beneath the tree,
With label lost, its contents still a mystery.

On the next next day, I sent my sweetheart’s way
A pair of robins foraging,
To brighten up the garden ere the Spring.

On the third next-day, I sent my sweetheart’s way
Three late cards of season’s best –
There’s still just time to hang them with the rest.

On the fourth next day, I sent my sweetheart’s way
A four-log fire and easy chair,
And a draught-free door to shut the world out there.

On the fifth next day, I sent my sweetheart’s way
A five-petaled weed who thinks it June,
And flowers far too late, or far too soon.

On the last next day, I sent my sweetheart’s way
A half-a-dozen sugared dates,
To see the old year out while the new awaits.

On the new next day, I sent my sweetheart’s way
A day of rest and taking heart,
With a long-drawn breath for a brand new start.




candles celebration cutlery dining
Photo by Pixabay on



The days are so short, late of the year –
Won’t you come on in ?
When the sun is down, and the frost is near,
And the gales begin.
But there’s always a shelter under our gable,
There’s always an extra chair at the table
For any stray stranger who’s hungry, and able
To pay us with only a grin.

The weather gets cold, this time of year –
We’re chilled to the skin.
It gets so hard to volunteer
And rattle the tin.
But there’s always a welcome here in our home
To help turn the grey to polychrome,
For unlucky souls who unwillingly roam,
While the wheels of fortune spin.

The season gets busy, every year,
And we just can’t win,
With the thanks so small, and the price so dear,
And our patience thin.
But there’s always a place at the table that’s set
For the unbidden guest coming in from the wet,
In time to remind what we often forget:
That there’s always room at the inn.




person s holds brown gift box
Photo by Kim Stiver on



Sometimes, presents are boring,
And nothing more than a pair of socks,
And they never thought to keep the receipt –
So we leave them mint in the box.
And next year, when we’re short of a gift,
We cheat –

We pass the parcel,
Round and round,
Re-wrapped and tagged,
And tagged and wrapped,
Until a welcome home is found,
Or else it’s broken, lost, or scrapped.

Sometimes, presents are boring,
And nothing more than love and peace,
And sparing a thought to live-and-let-live.
So we leave them, tossed-aside and creased.
But next year, when they’re short of them both,
We give.

We pass the wishes,
Round and round,
Beyond the walls,
Across the rift,
Until the needed hope is found,
Within an unexpected gift.



Newton’s Cradle

Isaac Newton as a Child


Newton’s Cradle

A child is born in dead of winter,
Child to bring the summer in –
He teases rainbows from the sunshine,
Lets enlightenment begin.
He brings us universal laws –
For as above, then so below.
He shows the path that we must follow,
Teaches how the heavens go.

Brightly shines his star above
In both his eyepiece and his eyes –
His clockwork earth perturbs the sun,
His motion never dies.
He shows us how all things must love –
We all attract and all obey.
So promises the savant one
Who’s born on Christmas Day.

A child is born in dead of winter,
Child to set the world alight –
He mechanises all our fluids,
Magnifies the heavens bright.
He stands atop the giants’ shoulders,
Calculates the cosmic story –
From the leastest fractions upwards,
His the powers and the glory.

He wants to save the human genus
From the couterfeiter’s haul.
Apples are the fruit of learning –
Worlds shall rise to meet their fall.
He shows us how the warmth between us
Never really goes away –
Hark the one who keeps us burning,
Born on Christmas Day.



The True Meaning of Christmas



The True Meaning of Christmas

That moment children weigh the facts,
And work them through with careful thought,
To ponder if he really acts
The way their parents always taught.
To question all authority
And realise we told them lies,
Then suss their top priority
Is not to let us know they’re wise.

Never try to hold them back,
But let them grow –
For when the story starts to crack
Don’t heap on shams to stem the flow,
But cheer them on to think it through –
For this shall be, by all that’s true,
In all the days we each shall live,
The greatest gift we’ll ever give.

That moment when they favour fact
Above a charming fairytale
That they still wish could be intact,
But know must come to no avail.
To question all authority
And not be swayed, is when they take
Their first step to maturity
That tells the real from the fake.

Never try to hold them down,
But let them rise.
For buried in frustration’s frown
Are cogs and sparks and watching eyes.
So spur them on to think it straight,
To reason out and cogitate.
In all their days, this stands alone –
The greatest gift they’ll ever own.