Morning by Morning

"The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward." Isaiah 50:4-5

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lo! Newborn Jesus

Lo! Newborn Jesus
   Soft and small,
Wrapped in baby’s bands
By his mother’s hands,
   Lord God of all.

Lord God of Mary,
   Whom is lips caress
While he rocks to rest
On his mother’s breast
   In helplessness.

*  *  * *  *  *

Lo! Newborn Jesus
   Loving great and small.
Love’s free Sacrifice,
Opening men’s arms and eyes
   To one and all.

--Christina Rossetti, The Complete Poems, [London: Penguin, 2001]. P. 83, 84

How can a man comment on the Virgin Birth of Jesus?  Virginal Conception, Virgin Birth!  It takes a woman’s touch; a man by nature shies away from the soft intimacy of Christina Rossetti’s tender words. 

Joseph, the man, and all men by necessity stand on the outside looking in nervously on the birth event.  His world, and ours, is shattered by the trusting surrender of Mary to our God.  We men are bystanders, but the sword that pierces Mary’s heart will pierce ours also. 

“The busy world is hushed, the dear Christ enters in.”  The surrender of Mary calls for our own surrender, not just once, but many times.  It is the high and holy responsibility of Joseph to model and to teach the Christ child what it means to be a man in the midst of this wicked world.  In our own way, with children everywhere, we also in our small measure bear that same responsibility.  Mary cannot do that; it is neither her calling nor her gift.

Joseph, what has Mary done?  Her action will define the very calling on your life and ours.  None of us are left outside the stable door.  We kneel shoulder to shoulder with you beside the manger looking in and watching.

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