The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song. The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent. Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.” Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.
Day 21: Mary’s Treasure
A meditation in poem on Luke 2:19
History tells us the tales of men,
Who seek their treasures
On mountain peaks, in ocean depths,
In trade and craft, in caves and vales;
All seeking, some finding, none satisfied.
The gleam of gold, the shine of silver,
The sparkle of jewels in dazzling light.
These objects of beauty and desire,
Perishable though they may be,
Yet bought by the lives of men.
But it is birth which gives us our greatest treasures:
Tiny hands and warm breath,
Searching eyes and breathless sighs,
The hint of father, and mention of mother,
All, the closest thing we can call our own.
So it must have been for the virgin Mary,
When light and song danced in the depths
Of a soul touched by the Spirit of God.
Eyes gazing, arms holding,
This promised child, sleeping at her breast.
When did she know He belonged not to her,
But to the world? A gift from God few would believe,
She alone must bear the joy, and the sorrow,
Always the two, wrapped together,
Between the swaddling clothes.
He was a gift to be sure,
This helpless babe, needing warmth and mother’s milk,
Lying, resting, in the humblest of beds,
Yet, eternal Creator of all things,
And Savior of the world.
He was a gift to Mary,
Favored of God and faithful to God,
Whose womb bore the promise of angels and men;
Flesh of her flesh, a firstborn son,
That she could call her own.
He was a gift to Joseph,
Betrothed of Mary, the righteous man
Whose righteousness could never merit
The gift that only grace could give:
To adopt the Son of God as his own.
He was a gift to the shepherds,
Keeping watch over their flocks by night,
Eyes on their sheep, then to the fire,
Then to the visitor in their midst,
And to the glory shining ‘round about them.
And He was a gift to us,
Though we did not ask, nor did we seek.
Still, God has given, and opened our eyes,
And we come, broken and poor,
Now inheritors with Him of all things.
So we turn our eyes towards Mary’s treasure:
Worshipped by shepherds, hailed by magi,
Promised by prophets, sought out by kings.
And we turn our eyes towards our own treasures,
And forsake all to call Him our own.
Happy Birthday, King Jesus!
For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.
A meditation in poem on Good Friday (Matthew 27, Luke 23).
The morning came before sleep,
My eyes held open in hazy fear,
Body tense, and spirit quenched,
Fists holding tightly to nothing,
As if time could be restrained in the palm of my hand.
Death was in the air, and coming for me.
My sentence ringing in my ears,
As the bell of my fate chimed clear within,
The loneliness that filled my heart surpassed only by
The anger I felt for my lot in life.
“You are a thief,” came a voice from inside,
“But you don’t deserve this,” and I believed the voice.
I stole, but I am more than a thief. I am a man,
A good man, not perfect, but good,
And not deserving of this fate.
The voice grew quieter, whispering in faint tones,
But vanished as the locks cracked,
And the guards came to bring us into the light,
Where we would begin the long, slow walk,
Into the dawn that would end with our dusk.
We joined the procession behind the man,
Who was always surrounded by crowds,
Pressing ‘round to see or to touch.
Some watching, some shouting,
Others mocking, others weeping.
He first, another behind,
And me, watching and wondering at this strange scene.
A man of God, this prophet, this teacher,
Now condemned to die
Like a common criminal.
We came to the place they had prepared
For three criminals to be hung,
As symbols of justice,
And targets for insult,
And warnings to all who would see and would hear.
I watched as they laid him upon the wood,
My eyes turning as they readied his hands,
And listened as the hammer struck nail,
Piercing silence and flesh, the sound mixing
With the groan that arose from the crowd.
My eyes followed his as they raised him high
His, never rising, mine, never blinking
And the voice inside whispered softly
To pity him, no, to despise him,
Though I know not why.
I looked aside to see the cross
That would ferry me through final breaths
To the end that had filled my thoughts for days.
I felt hands moving me forward,
My steps and my heart both pounding in fear.
Time seemed to stop, or moved quickly forward,
Interrupted by pain that should have been sharp,
But one dulled by the daze
Of heat and sweat and tears
And sounds of the ropes and the groans of the soldiers below.
Then sky turned to horizon, and horizon to earth,
And earth to the eyes I could see
Now fixed on the man hanging at my side.
And I heard them whisper in one another’s ears,
The murmuring broke finally by a shout.
“Come down,” one cried, “If you are God’s Son.”
And the silence that held court that morning,
Became laughter and spite as their boldness grew firm.
“He saved others, but he can’t save himself,”
Nails meant to pierce not hands but his soul.
Their words met my heart in an angry embrace,
And the voice inside became words on my tongue
As I joined in the chorus that continued to rise,
To his right, to his left, and below,
Whilst above, there was but silence.
We mocked and we spit and we cried,
Because of how it made us feel:
Powerful, whole, and right.
This man who claimed things no man should claim,
Now no better than a thief.
But then darkness came,
First to the sky, then to my soul,
As my waning thoughts and breath,
Were quickened by the fear and dread,
Not of death, but of my sin.
I saw my own soul, dead, in the ground,
The reward of my deeds was mine.
And this man I had mocked by my side,
Reaching to take my hand,
Leaning down to breathe upon my face.
I turned my gaze anew to this man.
“Jesus,” I cried. “Remember me!”
And He turned His head as my soul arose,
His gaze meeting mine as new light poured like living water,
Giving strength within as my body grew weak.
There was now something different, marvelously different.
I thought He may have changed,
Or perhaps it was me,
Once seeing a man upon a cross,
And now seeing my sin upon this cross.
I watched Him dying, and I heard Him cry out,
Not like the sound of a man or a beast,
But an anguish that could come only
From the throat of a god whose very soul
Bends beneath the weight of the world.
This was a cry that changes the world,
Where dead men are raised and rocks are split,
Where mortal earth cries out
As the divine tears in two for the briefest of moments,
When sinners are made right with a holy God.
My own darkness soon came, but before it did,
I saw the truth that my eyes had not seen.
I am a thief, but one loved.
And darkness came, and then light,
And I saw Him again, now forever His.
A meditation in poem on Luke 2:1-20
It’s strange we gather together on these days
To remember our moment of entering in,
And mark our place against the tide of time
That has been rising and falling
For countless ages before us.
A tide which will one day see the day
When we leave this world and go on.
Both days that are not of our choosing,
But days we face nevertheless,
Some with fear, others with longing, all with finality.
What a wonder then that the Maker of these tides
Would enter in as well, marking His own day of birth,
Beginning His march towards death,
Stepping with the seconds as they beat in rhythm
With the pounding of the tide on shore.
And thinking back to His first day, and the moment before,
He, standing in eternity, hand upon the door
That led into the dimness of our world,
And entering in Himself, wailing as the light and the air
Touched His eyes and skin for the first time.
Words cannot retell the mystery of that day,
When divinity met with humanity in an embrace
That none can understand or explain,
But only marvel at the deed, and say with the host,
“Glory to God in the highest!”
It must have been strange for Him to lie
That first night in a bed made of straw,
And as He turned His head to the side,
Sharp corners lightly pricked His brow,
Telling of the crown He would wear His last day;
The day His birth would be mourned
As a day that should never have been;
This life that was so full of promise,
Seems wasted on a Roman cross,
Because we did not understand.
But now we know, Good King,
Why you entered in that first day,
To become like us, and live, and die,
In our place, sinless as you were, but as our sin,
So we could become like you.
And we remember the gifts of the Magi,
Brought to prepare you for life and death,
But I am not as wise as they, and I have no gift
Suitable for a King who owns the world and all within it,
So I give myself, feeble, weak, half-hearted, but glad.
Happy Birthday, King Jesus!
A meditation in poem on John 1:1
Our lives are governed by countless seconds
That form into minutes which bleed into hours
That move into days and weeks and months
And years that speed quickly downhill
So that time becomes like gravity on our lives.
We fight against time with hopes and dreams
And all manner of science and striving,
But the fountain of youth has run dry,
Because there was never a fountain to begin with;
Only time ticking quickly in an empty well.
Were we to climb aboard these seconds
Like a ship and turn their bow to the east,
To travel back against the current of time
And make headway against the headwind of ages,
We would come to the horizon where time first flowed
Like a river filled by an explosion of water,
Bursting at its banks by the sheer power and force
Of a spring which has no limit to its depth.
But our ship would sail no more,
As the winds which had carried time for countless generations
Found the limit to their strength at time’s edge.
So we would rest at this precipice, oars to the water,
Unable to go further but unwilling to drift back to the west.
The veil we would stare into for night and day,
Though night and day would become only now,
Would not reveal what lay just beyond
In the outer reaches of everything there was
Before time began.
We would search in vain with our eyes
For a glimpse of anything outside of time
And beat our breasts in misery at the gnawing question
That lay on our hearts and our tongues:
Where does the beginning begin?
As we bowed our heads, crying tears of acceptance
That we had traveled as far as time would allow,
A voice would come softly through the veil
And dry our tears with the sweetness of its sound:
“I was there at the beginning.”
“Who are you, my Lord,” we might say,
Not intending deity but knowing no other title
To befit such a voice as this.
And silence would wait with us in anticipation to hear:
“I am the eternal Word.”
“I was there before the beginning,
When the love I shared with the Father
Was deep enough to be shared with the Spirit
That always existed between us,
And time never ticked as we enjoyed one another.”
“I was there at the beginning before words were spoken,
Then burst forth in light and glorious speed
When the Father’s mouth first took form
To say to nothing, ‘Become everything’
And nothing obeyed and did our bidding.”
“I was there at your beginning,
Which began well before you began
As I hung on the cross in the mind of the Father
With you in mind, to bring you to us
To share in the love we’ve always had.”
“And I will be there at the beginning
Of the real beginning we will share,
Enjoying the fullness of joy that will come
As you bask in the glory of my presence,
And time will be no more; only love.”
A meditation in poem on Proverbs 27:17
How hot the flame that first applied
It’s heat to lifeless elements,
Drawn from the ground and made alive
With power that was heaven sent.
As ore gave way to molten flow,
And iron rivers slowly cooled,
So rods that soon began to grow
Were fashioned into useful tools
To serve a cause t’was not their own,
But something larger than they knew,
And in this they were not alone
Yet acted like the chosen few.
Their own wisdom they did applaud
And boasted in their steely might,
Til they engaged another rod
And boasting turned its fists to fight.
They did not know their own weakness
And did not realize deep within
Were impurities that made them less
Useful in their Maker’s hand.
Yet not out of His control were
They ever for a moment’s pause,
For wielding them was His pleasure,
So edges rough would soften as
He brought them near to others like
Themselves, so heat inside would rise
And rid their core from impurity,
Which made them stronger in His eyes.
So was the Master Smelter’s plan:
His Spirit’s flame did first bring life
And continued burning from within
To sharpen His iron through holy strife.