Saturday, December 1, 2012

Beyond the Nativity: A Christmas Poem

Last year, when I started this blog with stuff from my journal back then (including a review of The Christmas Cottage and a bit of hero worship for it's subject Thomas Kincade, linked here and here), I also including in my journal, but not my blog, my annual Christmas poem.  I had written "The Woman and the Dragon: A Christmas Revelation" first (linked here), a poetic retelling of Revelation Chapter 12, the story of what was taking place behind the scenes, but being based on the language of Apocalyptic literature used in the final Bible book, it was very difficult to comprehend, just like the actual chapter, and final book, of the Bible.  This poem was my attempt to soften it and explain it a bit more, and make it more accessible and enjoyable.  See if you don't agree?  

Beyond the Nativity

by Gary Van Buren

A child in a manger, and no room at the inn
Such a humble way for the Savior to begin
With wise men and angels, this miracle would start
Details of the Christmas tale we all now know by heart

Yet if “all the world’s a stage,” as Shakespeare once did write
There must be more behind the scenes that adds a little light
So look into the Holy Book for sacred confirmation:
Isaiah’s prophecies and a peek in Revelation

For there we find foretelling and many future claims
A Savior, from a virgin birth, with many sacred names
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and thus
Prince of Peace, Immanuel, which translates “God with Us”

And if into the book of Revelation we should delve
We’re greeted by symbolic visions there in chapter twelve
A beastly, crimson dragon with loathsome heads of seven
Is actually the devil, as he was cast from heaven

Then a vision of a woman, perfectly defined
Clothed with the sun and moon, she represents mankind
Pursued by the dragon/devil, ready to give birth
Revealed when God sent his Son to be a man on earth

So much more was happening than we can see and hear
Things that chill your blood; things that angels fear
Things that are exposed when, like the Wizard of Oz
We peek behind the curtain to see the unseen cause

And there we find the love of God, who loves us all so much
That through the sacrifice of Christ, we gain God’s Holy Touch
This Christmas play’s not over yet, for Satan will be defeated
Christ’s birth and death and resurrection has God’s plan completed

Eternal paradise with God is where all of this leads
For God looks into our hearts; he knows our thoughts and needs
And Jesus will come once again to those who believe and obey
This glimpse behind the scenes unveils He is the only way

Christmas 2011

     So as I said last week in this blog, my previous attempt at this concept was simply too long, and too deep, taking the whole of Revelation: Chapter 12 and writing it out in poetic form with a single stanza introduction and the dual stanza conclusion.  The whole thing was 13 stanzas long, which is 52 lines!  Not only is it as deep and as difficult to understand as the actual chapter from Revelation it came from, and rivaling my longest poem to date, “A Purpose Driven Mass For Christ,” but because of this, the font had to be quite small to fit it onto a single page.  There’s nothing like making your poetry nearly inaccessible to anyone, especially those people who tend to love my poetry the most.  I mean, even my brothers and sister, who I consider to be thoroughly theological and political, might put it aside and never really get back to it.  There is a place for this poem, of course, but I would agree with my sister Kim, after some convincing, that sending it out as my annual Christmas poem would have been a mistake.  It’s just too lengthy and theological for the, shall we say less theological, people I send my poem to every year or hand out at work (and I did make a special trip there this year just for that purpose, even after I was let go, and being extra careful to avoid the two people there I don’t ever want to see again).
     So I took it upon myself to simplify the theme and the message.  Instead of rewriting an entire, hard to comprehend chapter of the apocalyptic writing found in the book of Revelation, I instead focused more on what the story there means, and what the images represent.  It matters little that the woman in the story eludes the dragon by being given the wings of an eagle where she will reside in the desert for “a time, times, and half a time.”  Comprehending this is a game best left to Christian scholars.  What matters is not this “letter of the law” but the essence.  What matters is that the woman represents mankind, the people of earth, and that the dragon represents Satan, and that God provided a way.

I grew up in Sunday school / I memorized the Golden Rule
And how Jesus came to set the sinner free
I know the story inside-out / And I can tell you all about
The path that led Him up to Calvary
But ask me why He loves me / And I don't know what to say
But I'll never be the same because He changed my life when He became

Everything to Me / He's more than a story / More than words on a page of history
He's the Air that I breathe / The Water I thirst for / And the Ground beneath my feet
He's Everything / Everything to Me
[ Lyrics from: ]
We're living in uncertain times / And more and more I find
That I'm aware of just how fragile life can be
I want to tell the world I've found / A love that turned my life around
They need to know that they can taste and see
Now every day, I'm praying / Just to give my heart away
I want to live for Jesus / So that someone else might see that He is…

And looking back over my life at the end / I'm gonna meet You / Saying You've been
Everything to Me / You're more than a story / More than words on a page of history

You're Everything to Me / You're more than a story / More than words on a page of history
You're the Air that I breathe / The Water I thirst for / And the Ground beneath my feet --
You're Everything / Lord, You're Everything to Me...

You’re Everything to me, Jesus…
The Air I Breathe / The Song that I sing…
You’re my Life, my Love /  Everything

            - “Everything to Me”

1 comment:

  1. Isaiah and Revelation have been the traditional readings for Advent. They help us remember what we are celebrating.