God Among Us: A Crown He Bore



The obstetrical term for the final moment of labor
prior to delivery when the topmost portion of the
baby’s head may be seen externally

At the moment of his birth
this baby wore his mother upside down,
wore her ‘round his head like a huge soft hat.

Later, of course, she would see him
under another bloody crown
and they would both be suffering.
But for the time being, it was Mary who labored,
completing the terrible risk of her confinement,
bearing her pain, and her blood.
From within the dark interior of her distress
she was unaware
that she was the crown he bore.
~John Shaw

For what is our hope, our joy,
or the crown in which we will glory
in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes?
Is it not you?
Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

1 Thessalonians 2: 19-20


At that moment of crowning,
that exquisite pain known by every mother,
there is a sense of inevitability,
of no turning back
and starting over
for deliverer
and delivered.

He is coming,
in glory,
in such certainty,
wearing us
as His crown.


O Savior of our fallen race,
O Brightness of the Father’s face,
O Son who shared the Father’s might
Before the world knew day or night,
O Jesus, very Light of light,
Our constant star in sin’s deep night:
Now hear the prayers Your people pray
Throughout the world this holy day.

Remind us Lord of life and grace
How once, to save our fallen race,
You put our human vesture on
And came to us as Mary’s son.
Today, as year by year its light
Brings to our world a promise bright
One precious truth outshines the sun:
Salvation comes from You alone.

For from the Father’s throne You came,
His banished children to reclaim;
And earth and sea and sky revere
The love of Him who sent You here.
And we are jubilant today,
For You have washed our guilt away.
O hear the glad new song we sing
On this, the birth of Christ our King!

O Savior of our fallen race,
The world will see Your radiant face
For You who came to us before
Will come again and all restore.
Let songs of praise Your name adorn,
O Christ, Redeemer, virgin-born
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Spirit evermore. Alleluia!
~6th century Latin Hymn, adapted by Keith and Kristyn Getty

There is no rose of such virtue
As is the Rose that bore Jesu:
For in this rose was contained
Heaven and earth in a small space.
Wondrous thing. Res miranda.
By that rose we may well see
There is one God in persons three.
Equally formed. Pares forma.
The angels sang; the shepherds, too:
Glory to God in the highest!
Let us rejoice. Gaudeamus.
Leave we all these worldly cares
And follow we this joyful birth.
Let us be transformed. Transeamus.
~Benjamin Britten “There is no rose” from “Ceremony of the Carols”1943


4 thoughts on “God Among Us: A Crown He Bore

  1. Thank you, Emily, for John Shaw’s beautifully realistic poem and for your knowing experiential comment about the birthing event of the Incarnate Jesus.

    This is a welcome change from what we have read about this story and what must have been the reality in the circumstances surrounding this account of the coming among humanity of the Son of Man in human form through the body of a young Jewish teenage girl.

    No longer are we limited to considering a ‘sanitized’ version. Instead, we are presented with a vivid picture of what actually would have occurred. We acknowledge the reality of the searing pain, the copious blood, the ‘crowning’ of His precious head as He prepares for His life outside the warmth and safety of His mother’s womb. And finally we see the severing of the umbilical cord that connected Him to His mother, freeing Him now to begin His journey and the mission for which He came among us.

    This ‘new’ way of viewing this sacred event makes me love Mary and Joseph that much more and to appreciate the courageous humility of the Son of God as He allows Himself to become of us, to walk with us, to show us the way to His Father and eternal life with Him.

    (A little of what I have written here has been paraphrased from two excerpts from a book by the late John O’Donohue titled “Conamara Blues” – ‘The Nativity,’ p.38; and ‘Placenta,’ p.60.
    New York: HarperCollins, 2001.)


  2. emily, your photos and writing, as well as fellow commenters, never fail to bless my soul. and i love the snow falling! thanks again for enriching my days!


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