Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Advent Poem #7: Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi(Body of Christ)
by Virginia Knowles
Advent 2007

He, eternal and radiant Creator
Became a human mother’s son, a humble babe
Promised and anointed one
Ambassador from Heaven to Earth
Not in resplendent majesty befitting Celestial Royalty
But in an earthly body like ours
A body like ours?

Yes, a body!

A body with eyes to seek out scattered and wounded ones
Eyes that weep, eyes that sleep but do not sleep
Ever searching, ever watching
Eyes that pierce our straying sinner-souls with gracious gaze
Eyes that shepherd us safely home again
So angels can rejoice with our Father in Heaven

A body with ears to hear quiet sighs
And frantic cries of desperation (Lord, have mercy!)
As well as words profane and cruel, uttered by fools
His ears hear not only what we hear
But the very echoes of our silent thoughts and intentions
He hears this evidence that we are all fools
We need not only wisdom but redemption

A body with a mind that senses, muses, keenly understands
All beauty he had designed
Ruined by Adam’s Eden fall: Paradise Lost
All that was, he remembers still
And all that will be, he already foresees
Untangles twisted circumstances and chaotic confusions
Even when we know not ourselves
He knows and cares and plans: Paradise Regained
Is anything too difficult for him
Whose thoughts are high above the heavens?

A body with a mouth to teach the way of life
Sermons to the simple and to the sophisticated, parables and pearls
Soul seeds to blossom in hearts of those who have ears to hear
A mouth to proclaim truth and justice
Yet speak forth mercy to those who do not deserve it
To answer with probing questions
Warning those Pharisees who use their mouths to snare
A mouth to bless children and all who are old yet childlike still
And this man-child’s mouth thanks his Father
Prays: “Not my will, but Yours be done”

A body with hands: gentle yet tough are those hands
Which created this world we call home
Hands to work hard, stuff of daily life
Built with carpenter’s nails and beams of wood
Hands to heal, stretched forth in victory over pain and decay
Hands to break the meager bread and fish
Multiply in abundance to feed the hungry multitude
Busy hands, yet not too busy to embrace a wee child
To ruffle matted hair, to wash dirty feet
Or to scribble words of pardon in the sand
For a damsel in distress: no stone thrown

And a body with feet, walking from village to village,
House to house, soul to soul
In dusty sandals we mortals are unworthy to untie
Walking on waves amidst the stormy sea
(His feet are not for soil alone)
He traverses the land, announcing the Kingdom of God-With-Us
Among those who do not yet recognize his benevolent dominion
He goes to those who will not come on their own, in mercy
Chases those who run headlong toward the brink of destruction:
Hound of Heaven

Yes, a body!
Yet he did not just live in this body merely as an example
So we could know how to be good
But offered it as a sacrifice because
We could not, would not, attain to any goodness in ourselves
A body crucified, stretched out to die
Pierced with carpenter’s nails on beams of wood
Pierced with spear until blood and water flow
Willingly punished for our iniquities, not his own
(Only a perfect sacrifice can obtain atonement for sins of others)
Then taken down and laid in borrowed tomb, but not for long
Mortal once, yet immortal always, resurrected in power and glory
Walking and talking again among men and women
So their eyes could see, hearts believe
What had been foretold from ages past by prophets of old:
God in a body like ours, yet not like ours, victorious over death!
(O Death, where is your sting? We are raised with him!)

Yes, a body!
But where is this body now?
The Son ascended again to his Father’s side
Intercedes on our behalf, pleads for his Bride, his Church
Whom he purified with his own blood once for all
Prepares glorious mansions for us, a wedding feast for us
Who deserved his cross and grave and wrath instead
Yet he has not left us bereft as we wait
He has poured out his Holy Spirit: fill us, empower us, guide us
Why? Because we, we who believe and follow
Are now the Body of Christ on earth:
Our eyes shall seek out the lost and guide them home
See, really notice, then meet earthy needs meanwhile
Our ears shall listen to their cries, questions, doubts, confusions,
Confessions, prayers, testimonies at last
Our minds navigate mazes and minefields of life
Solve riddles to serve mankind, strategize, plan
Our mouths proclaim good news, call sinners to repent and believe
Teach the Jesus way, always pray
Our hands serve and heal, wash and feed, build and embrace
(Gentle always, please)
Our feet go out for the King and his Kingdom
Around the globe or down the street
Our body, his body, working together to do as he has done
Laboring with all his strength under his sovereign command
Ambassadors of Heaven to Earth
Corpus Christi

"Corpus Christi" is a poem in my Advent series. Written in 2007, it was inspired by the excellent book Holy Available: What If Holiness Is about More Than What We Don't Do? (previously titled The Beautiful Fight: Surrendering to the Transforming Presence of God Every Day of Your Life) by Gary Thomas and was also posted on his web site for a while. Click here to read my review: Holy Available. The poem is also based on the following Scriptures:

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:24-25 (ESV)

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16 (ESV)

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…” Colossians 1:15-24 (ESV)

“And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.” Hebrews 10:10-13 (ESV)

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:3-13 (ESV)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails