THIS POEM ORIGINALLY APPEARED AS PART OF AN ADVENT SERIES ON THE EMMAUS CHURCH BLOG. YOU CAN FIND IT HERE. THE FEATURED IMAGE IS AN ORIGINAL BY KATIE STOUT. I HAVE ALSO INCLUDED A FANTASTIC PROSE PIECE BY MATT NEIDIG.
Christmas is about glory. Without an understanding of the eternal glory of Jesus Christ the Son, the manger is robbed of its poignance and power. There is no wonder in the lowly stable without the contrast of the magnificence of heaven. The magi and shepherds come to worship not just a baby, but also a glorious Son. But without God’s help, how can we comprehend the beauty of Jesus? All we see is a baby, meek and mild. We need revelation — as the shepherds heard the heavenly choir and the magi saw the heavenly star — in order to understand the weight of incarnation. God must make his glory know to us. I wanted my poem about glory to make the reader feel this need for divine revelation.
I’ve attempted to do this by telling a simple narrative with an unknown actor. The sonnet form chosen is written in iambic pentameter to bring form and structure to the poem (a symbol of the perfect nature of glory), and its two stanzas help move the narrative along by providing a distinct turn in tone. In the first stanza (called the octave, because of its eight lines), we are introduced to a anonymous inquisitor, taken aback by something he has heard. By comparing his perception of Christ to other god-like figures of Orion, and Father Time/Chronos, I illustrate how the speaker is confused at how this God-man could be both above time and above the universe itself, author of ages and God of gods. It all seems too much to be true, too much glory to synthesize down into one being.
The sestet (last six lines) changes tone from skeptical to enraptured. Suddenly the speaker’s eyes perceive that this man he has heard of is in fact the Christ, glorious beyond all compare. What happens to make this so? Well, it starts with the introduction of his name, “The Word”, in line 8. Keen readers will notice that lines 10-11 are a paraphrase of John 1:1-4. Only with the introduction of direct Scriptural language can the poem switch from rumor to revelation. The glory of the son is not just explained to our speaker, it is shown to him in the Bible. We see, then, in lines 13-14, that God is a God who reveals himself. His purpose is known only when he allows us to see. Part of the beauty of Christmas is that the glory that we have only heard of and long for becomes a glory we can glimpse. As God reveals himself in his sent Son, we are offered in Christ new life with new eyes. No longer is his glory strange and confusing, it is to be comprehended with awe and worship.
There is a Man whose flesh came second, I’ve heard.
Some say He holds the stars, as if His will
Grants Orion’s bow to sing and kill.
By second, they hint mortality deferred,
The lines of now and then and soon all blurred.
That is, great Time to Him tips his tall bill,
For ages move when He undrys his quill.
Strange still, I ask His name? They say “The Word”.
Mystery, and yet, informed by all this glory!
With God, was God, is God — ‘Ere moon ‘ere sun,
His life spilt and spelt Light for man’s story;
This is the Christ, begot from Heav’n, the Son.
As He makes bright Himself, clearly I see
He comes, first born, to offer birth to me.
by Matt Neidig
Take a minute, church, and ponder the boundless beauty of Jesus.
He authored all origins. He clocked-in the entire cosmos. He permitted time to begin ticking. He has no ancestors, no roots, no source, no predecessors. He simply is, and has always been. He introduced time and space to one another. He inaugurated the entire universe. He is the founder of all foundations and beginnings – the first cause, the primary mover. No number can begin to quantify his eternality. It is impossible to wrap your mind around how long he has existed. But try to! Then sit in awe of the God-ness of your King.
This is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and God Himself.
He is the sustainer. He has always, for all time, held everything together – by His Word. He prepared and baked all laws of physics and thermodynamics and relativity, which continue to baffle the most brilliant brains in all of humanity. And He holds together the fibers of their brains while baffling them. Actually, He upholds every fiber of every object that ever existed. Just try to comprehend that last sentence. Every fiber. Every object. That ever existed. Adam and Eve’s bodies, your body, and everyone in between. Mountains, oceans, subatomic particles, and the manger he was born into. He sustains them all. Try to comprehend this, church! No wonder the heavenly beings have been singing to him for ages.
“Holy, holy, holy”, this is their song. This is the everlasting cadence of the beings of highest order. They surround Him, and cover their faces and prostrate themselves – which is the only proper response to His immeasurable glory and majesty. He is absolutely perfect. No accusation of sin can stick to Him. No ounce of imperfection has ever come from Him. He is totally pure. No sin has ever breached the barrier of His home in Heaven. He is unscathed, unstained and untouched by the ugliness of ungodliness. He has always been this way – from as long as time can remember and before.
Their song contains the correct lyrics — he is holy; wholly holy.
This glorious, heavenly, eternal Jesus became infant Jesus. He had the opposite of a humble background. His resume, as a helpless baby, reads, “Creator of all things,” and “Sustainer of all life.” He is who made the Holy Night holy. He is the true Light. In him there is no darkness. At all. All darkness evacuates at the whisper of His name. It always has, for all time. Nothing can eclipse the radiance of His glory. Nothing. Try to wrap your brain around that thought! Darkness has never done anything but flee from Jesus. It is accustomed to it. Our Jesus — Jesus Christ, the true Light.
And this true Light came into the world.
Whatever is beautiful, majestic, powerful, and worthy of commendation can be summed up in Jesus Christ. See this Jesus, praise this Jesus, prostrate yourself before this Jesus.
Take a minute, church, and ponder the boundless beauty and glory of Jesus.