God Among Us: Space for the Uncontained God

annunciation
The Annunciation by Henry Owassa Tanner (Philadelphia Art Museum)

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary…”
Luke 1: 28-30, 38

 

Rejoice, you through whom joy shall shine forth.
Rejoice, O Star revealing the Sun.
Rejoice, O Womb of divine Incarnation.
Rejoice, you through whom creation is renewed.
Rejoice, you through whom the Creator is born a Babe.

‘Hail, space for the uncontained God’
from Akathistos Hymn, translated from Greek

…to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power –
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.

Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love –

but who was God.
~Denise Levertov from “Annunciation”

______________________

The uncontained contained
the infinite made finite
the Deliverer delivered
the Eternal here and now.
_________________________

The angel Gabriel from heaven came
His wings as drifted snow
His eyes as flame
“All hail” said he “thou lowly maiden Mary
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria, Gloria

“For known a blessed mother thou shalt be
All generations laud and honor thee
Thy Son shall be Emanuel
By seers foretold
Most highly favored maid,” Gloria, Gloria

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name.”
Most highly favored lady, Gloria, Gloria
~Lyrics “Gabriel’s Message” 

 

Annunciation --James Tissot
Annunciation –James Tissot

How do you capture the wind on the water?
How do you count all the stars in the sky?
How do you measure the love of a mother
Or how can you write down a baby’s first cry?

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Silent night, holy night, all is calm and all is bright
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

Shepherds and wise men will kneel and adore him
Seraphim round him their vigil will keep
Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Saviour
But Mary will hold him and sing him to sleep

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Silent night, holy night, all is calm and all is bright
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger
Christ our Redeemer asleep in the hay
Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation
A child with his mother that first Christmas Day

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Silent night, holy night, all is calm and all is bright
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

 

 

God Among Us: A Crown He Bore

puffsunset3

 

Crowning
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
bloodied
as His crown.
EPG

 

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:
Alleluia.
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

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