the advent series (2007)
The earth was baptized with water once,
In the ancient days when it was still young,
To wash away the crimson stains of humanity’s bloodied hands,
But those eight and the two by twos
Were saved in the ark of a rainbow covenant–
When they passed through the waters, the Lord Himself was with them.
And one day the world will be baptized with fire
To burn away the straw houses we took our refuge in,
But like the Hebrew children we’ll not be singed,
But will rise up to meet Him in the air
Like incense smoke before our God,
Like moths drawn to the beautiful flame–
When we pass through the fire, the Lord will be with us.
And in the in-between, the already-but-not-yet,
He is now with us in the flood and flame,
As He was and will be.
For He passed through the water of a virgin’s womb
When He took on our flesh and blood,
And He passed through the fire of a holy wrath
When that flesh was broken and that blood spilled.
Yes, by His Word and Spirit, by which He makes us clean,
Emmanuel is with us even now.
here’s the thing about God:
when He says, “the kingdom is near,”
we don’t expect (or want) it
to be prefaced by a “repent, for”
because we hear “kingdom”
and hear not poverty of spirit,
but flares and trumpets and glory,
the construction of an abiding city,
and, well, that’s what we get…
He builds up a city of outcasts and oddballs–
a camel-wearing, locust-eating hermit shouts aloud
the coming of a carpenter king,
the teachers of the people go mute,
old ladies have babies,
virgins tell their fiances, “honey, i’m pregnant.”
not quite what we were expecting.
and He uproots the trees of our self-righteousness,
fills in the low valleys of our self-pity,
and cuts down the mountains of self-exaltation,
to make straight His own highway,
to prepare a way into our hearts–
He builds a kingdom by tearing down.
not quite what we were thinking of.
but His ways aren’t like ours,
His thoughts are not our thoughts–
the old give birth to voice,
the young bring forth a Word,
the kingdom comes out to the wilderness.
and when it comes,
the Father shines His face on us,
the Son is lit with glory,
the Spirit comes in peace like a dove.
not anything we could imagine,
but everything we need.
So we all know the song:
The one that proclaims joy to the world,
For the Lord is come,
But no one–or hardly anyone–
Sings the third verse,*
Which is a shame, because it tells us
The great and glorious truth
That the Lord also comes to make His blessings known
Far as, far as the curse is found–
Everywhere sin and satan have made their marks,
In hearts, in minds, in bodies, in matter.
So when He comes,
The blind see His face, the deaf hear His voice,
Lepers feel His touch, the lame dance to His song,
Minds are mended, lives are brought back from the grave,
Faith is given, sins are forgiven.
But what about those who live
In the dark places, in the four walls
Of their doubt and despair?
Does the kingdom come to the persecuted,
To the suffering, the dying, the mourning?
When it looks like God goes to everyone else,
It’s all too easy to take offense at Him.
But He says that the kingdom is yours,
You poor in spirit,
You persecuted for His sake;
Even if it does not seem to chase
Away the darkness of your dark night,
Know this: That the light of the world still shines on you,
If only as a flame now, then the bright sun of a day to come.
So wait for it like watchmen for the morning,
And joy will be yours indeed.
Saints and sinners, whores and adulterers,
Have sons and daughters, marry and give in marriage,
Through long and longer days of waiting in
Slavery and judgment
Until a lost son of royalty, a Nazarene carpenter,
Has visions like his namesake of old,
A young man dreams dreams of the kingdom coming,
And he, like the patriarch, suddenly sees
That what looks like evil may be God working for good.
So this righteous son of David marries a
Daughter of Zion who carries now
Not David’s son but David’s Lord–
A new Adam to bring paradise,
A new Abraham to make sacrifice,
A new Moses to give and keep the law,
A new Joshua to conquer for us all–
The generations of Jacob’s children finding their
Fulfillment in one who now rests inside Mary’s womb.