In week two we discussed how poetry has the ability to transcend the paradoxes of theology in a way that prose often fails too. “Saying that someone, Jesus Christ, is both fully God and fully human, is something that rests uneasily within the bounds of ordinary theological prose but flies naturally when expressed in the expansive language of poetry.” Our goal was to meditate on how when our theology takes on poetic form, “it is theology that leads to awe and wonder, the bedrock of worship.”
Here is a profound example from Charles Wesley in his collection of hymns on the Incarnation (PDF).
Gaze on that helpless object
Of endless adoration!
Shall burst our bands,
And work out our salvation;
This simple verse (and you have to read the rest!) captures the physical reality of the new-born christ – born with fragile baby hands that moms love to hold. Yet hands that would one day heal wounds, feed thousands, take nails and ultimately burst the bands of sin and death.
Our assignment – In one stanza replicate Wesley’s attention to the fundamental paradox of the Incarnation by creative expression of one dimension of this paradox.
Eternal Son, Emmanuel born
Gave the Spirit flesh to wear
Took the flailing sin condition
In his divinity to bear
The bread of heaven, breastfed came
Spreading feasts for sick and lame
The Curse-pronouncer, cursed became
to crown us subjects of his fame
(c) 2011 Bruce Benedict