Peace In Wolverhampton As Count Down To Christmas Begins

The Poet in Residence of Wolverhampton`s radio station, WCR FM, is on a mission to spread the message of peace this Christmas.

“Each Sunday a candle is lit for Advent”, explained Poet in Residence Ian Henery “leading up to the celebration of Christmas.  These 4 candles represent the themes of hope, peace, joy and love are important in all faiths as well as those of none.  This tradition`s roots started during the Middle Ages, perhaps as far back as the 4th or 5th century AD, but the tradition we`ve come to know today has solid historical origins from the 1800s onwards”.

Ian Henery will write a poem for each of the 4 Advent candles in the count down to Christmas.  Every week each of the 4 poems will be broadcast on WCR FM in Wolverhampton which broadcasts on 101.8 FM, online, Spotify and Listen Again.

“Last week I wrote about hope at Christmas” explained Ian Henery “but this week it`s about peace.  Alot of people will remember Paul McCartney`s song “Pipes of Peace” from the album of the same name.  It was released as a single in December 1983 and reached number 1 in the UK single charts for 2 weeks.”

The video for the song depicted the famous 1914 Christmas Day Truce between British and German troops.  It portrays a British and German soldier, both played by Paul McCartney, who meet up in No Man`s Land and exchange photos of their loved ones while other soldiers fraternise and play football.  When a shell blast forces the 2 armies to retreat to their own trenches both men realise that they still have each other`s pictures.

At Christmas 2014, to mark the centenary of the event, supermarket chain Sainsburys, in partnership with the Royal British Legion, produced a Christmas advert based on Paul McCartney`s “Pipes of Peace” video.  When the British and German soldiers return to their trenches they discover they have inadvertently swapped their gifts from home.

The song “All Together Now” by Liverpool band The Farm also took it`s inspiration from the Christmas Day Truce.  The song was re-recorded by The Peace Collective for release in December 2014 to mark the centenary of the event.

“At Christmas we must look for peace” explained Ian Henery “and look at others through heaven`s eyes.  We need peace, trust and faith despite the dark, scary world around us.”

According to Ian Henery one of the hallmarks of Christmas is peace.  “According to the Christmas story”, he said, “the angels appeared to the shepherds and proclaimed “Peace on Earth”.  The Christmas story tells us that we can also have the peace of mind knowing that this broken world can be healed through love.”

Ian Henery believes the soldiers in the Christmas Day Truce got it right.  “Christmas is about peace” he said “and making peace with others.  We put aside our differences.  The Hebrew word for peace is “Shalom” and goes far beyond not fighting.  Shalom is how things are meant to be: a slice of heaven”.

A Question At Christmas (for Emily who always asks questions)

  “Please, Miss, does Santa Claus exist?

We don`t have what`s called a “chimney”

But I always get my wish list.

Carrots and whiskey disappear

After silly Dad goes to bed.

I know it`s him every year.

Please, Miss, reindeers don`t really fly!

Santa`s sleigh can`t land on our roof!

It`s Dad who eats all the mince pies;

Burglar alarm always set.

My Dad is most particular,

At Christmas he wouldn`t forget”.

  “Please, Miss, what`s the Christmas Story?”

Winter Festival or Solstice?

A baby born to God`s glory?

There`s lots of stuff I want to ask:

We`re bombarded with images.

Tell me – are you up to the task?”

“Lots of questions in one so small,

I was trained for this at college

But how can I answer them all?”

(Thinks – you are how old?

Only 8? Is that the time?  It`s getting late!)

“Please, Miss, what is Christmas about?

The eating, drinking and binges

And afterwards – grown-ups just – shout!”

“”Miss, I know when stockings are filled

It all goes on credit card bills;

Added to this Christmas expense

Is 24 hours of suspense

For the Big Guy in the red suit

Fur-lined, be-whiskered and in boots”.

“WHATS IT ALL ABOUT, MISS?”

“Good gracious – let me have a think:

Ask the audience, call a friend?

50/50?  I need a drink,

A strong coffee and not mulled wine;

These are good questions from a child

Needing answers at Christmas time”.

“Forget the trappings of glitter;

Children die in wars so bitter.

Homeless wander in streets, forlorn;

On streets, unloved babies are born,

Refugees roam across our world –

And for this – festive banners unfurl?”

  “What`s the message?  I will tell you!

Bells are ringing, not just for lunch;

Above all else, this much is true:

Jesus was born, the angels sing

Of peace on Earth and God`s great love:

This is the message Christmas brings”.

  Ian Henery www.ianhenerypoet.com

Mayor of Walsall`s Poet Laureate 2021 – 2022

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