As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Emmanuel and Elmanuim

The people who were wandering in darkness cried out to heaven, 0
"Great God, come quickly to our aid! Loving Lord, hasten to help us!" 1
Hearing their prayers, God took counsel with Himself.
In a three-fold voice He said, "It is time," and the heavens hushed in wonder.

So the Son stripped Himself of His robes of glory.
He removed His regal crown
His power and wealth were set aside.
And while all things were in quiet silence,
and night was in the midst of her swift course,
the Almighty Word, leapt down out of His royal throne. 2, 3

He came to us in such a poor, pitiful state,
devoid of crown, throne, robes and power; 4
and coming He asked us what we had to give Him.

"My children, I have no clothes, for I have set them aside for love of you.
What have you to give me, to cover my nakedness?"
"We have only the womb of a Virgin. Of her you may take our flesh
though it is diseased with death and stained with sin."
"This will I take," He replied.
Yet, in the taking, He made the flesh clean and living.

"My children, I have no house, for I have left My Father for love of you.
What home have you to give me, to shelter me from the wind?"
"We have only the stable of this Inn, where the sheep and oxen sleep."
"This will I take," He replied.
Yet, in the taking, He made that stable the palace of the wide world and high heavens.

"My children, I have no throne, for I have set aside My seat for love of you.
What throne have you to give me, from which I may administer justice and peace?"
"We have only this manger, the feeding place of ox and donkey."
"This will I take," He replied.
Yet, in the taking, He made that manger more holy than the Ark of the Covenant.

"My children, I have no way to travel, for I who was once all places
have bound myself to this one place for love of you.
What steed have you to give me, that I might ride to your rescue?"
"We have only this donkey, who is used to bear the burdens of his owner."
"This will I take," He replied.
Yet, in the taking, He made that donkey the bearer of the most noble Son of God.

"My children, I have no food, for I who once had no need have made myself needful for love of you.
What meal have you to give me, that I might be nourished for the great battle?"
"We have only this bread and this wine, which will be used for Passover."
"This will I take," He replied.
Yet, in the taking, He made it His broken Body and His blessed Blood.

"My children, I have no crown, for I have laid aside my diadem for love of you.
What crown have you to give me, to show that I am your King?"
"We have only this crown of thorns, which will pierce your brow."
"This will I take," He replied.
Yet, in the taking, He made it more noble than any golden laurel that ever adorned a Caesar.

"My children, I have no sword, for I have laid aside all my power for love of you.
What weapon have you to give me, that I might free you from your oppressors?"
"We have only this cross, on which to hang you."
"This will I take," He replied.
Yet, in the taking, He defeated both death and sin.

"My children, I have no bed, for I Who was once tireless have become tired in my labors to free you.
What resting place have you to give me, that I may take my Sabbath?"
"We have only this borrowed barrow, the grave of a stranger."
"This will I take," He replied.
Yet, in the taking, He made it the doorway to harrowed Hell and hallowed Heaven.

And the people who had walked in darkness saw the great Light.
God had become naked for them.
God had become homeless for them.
God had become throneless for them.
God had become limited for them.
God had become hungry for them.
God had become thirsty for them.
God had become crownless for them.
God had become weaponless for them.
God had died for them.
God had become one of them.
And they said, "We call Him Emmanuel, for God is truly with us."

And so it was that, in obedience and humility, the Son took all that He was given and made it blessed.
And all that had been laid aside was returned to Him, power, throne, crown, robes and glory. 6
He turned again to earth and said,

"My children, you have no gifts, for all that was once Mine is restored to me.
What tribute have you to give me, that I may know of your love?"
"We have only our failing flesh, our weak wills and our poor hearts,
but we give them to You to do with as you would."
"These will I take," He replied.
Yet, in the taking, God-with-us changed our names to we-with-God.

I wrote this poem for my father's Christmas Cantata, to go between two versions of Veni, Veni Emmanuel (one for Christmas and one for Holy Week). It was meant to bridge the Cradle and the Cross. I melded three things together for the final product. The first is an Orthodox Vespers prayer for Christmas Night:
What shall we offer thee, O Christ,
Who for our sakes hast appeared on earth as man?
Every creature made by thee offers thee thanks.
The angels offer thee a hymn;
The heavens a star;
The magi, gifts;
The shepherds, their wonder;
The earth, its cave;
The wilderness, the manger:
And we offer thee a Virgin Mother.
O God from everlasting, have mercy upon us.
The second is the Good Friday Reproaches, spoken by Christ on the Cross to His people:
My people, What have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

I led you out of Egypt; but you led your Savior to the Cross.
For forty years I led you safely through the desert,
I fed you with manna from heaven,
and brought you to the land of plenty;
But you led your Savior to the Cross.

O, My people!
What have I done to you that you should testify against me?
Holy God. Holy God. Holy Mighty One. Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.
The final is the final verse of In the Bleak Midwinter:
What then shall I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would give a lamb.
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part.
But what I can I give Him, give Him my heart.
...

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1 Comments:

Anonymous TheBrooke said...

Thank you. It's beautiful!

1:15 AM  

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