Wednesday, December 22, 2004

In the Bleak Midwinter

Now there’s nothing strange about that except that I hardly consider myself a Christian. The whole point of "The Incarnation" in traditional, mainline Christianity, is for God to become Man so He can be sacrificed for our sins (The Atonement). Well, I don’t believe in "The Atonement". One of these days I’ll explain why. I do, however, believe in "The Incarnation". I believe that in some unique, incomprehensible way Jesus was a manifestation of God made flesh. If there is a God (and I believe there is) then becoming human would be whole new experience for God, and neither God nor humanity will ever be the same.
One of the things that I love most is Christmas music. One of my favorites is by the Pre-Raphaelite poet Christina Rossetti. In her poem "In the Bleak Midwinter" we recognize our world and find a Jesus we can relate to.


In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Words: , 1872; she wrote these words in response to a request from the magazine Scribner’s Monthly for a Christmas poem. Music: "Cranham," , 1906 will link you to the most common melody by Gustav Holst.

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