In the Bleak Midwinter


Christina Georgina Rossetti was born this day in London in 1830.  Her poem, “In the Bleak Midwinter,” has also become a Christmas Carol.

Herbert Brokering wrote 40 Advent Christmas devotions based on her poem. Of her opening line, “In the Bleak mid-winter” he began with winter in Nebraska, “The best window paintings of all were by Jack Frost, who painted all night to amaze us with frosted glass in the morning.”  I remember those paintings on the windows of our farmhouse in northern Wisconsin.

Brokering continued: “Winter was not a night for a baby to be born outside in a barn, in Nebraska or in Bethlehem.  Not even in the warm barn old Pastor Geyer had built for his six horses that we now had for our two cows and winter cats.  (Brokering’s father was a pastor.)

Incarnation is about God in the real world, God in a birth in the cold. God in a barn in a manger bed. God wrapped in a midwinter, bleak long winter wrapped around cold feet and hands, cold spirits, cold hearts…God in the cold with any nation or person or baby when it is way too cold too long.  God in the cold.  Advent means God is coming in bleak midwinter, when things are far too cold.

Now stay us, O God, near the stable

When hearts are too brittle and cold

To wrap us in winter’s cold arms

Which in your old spring times unfold.


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