[The Incarnation is like] a wave of the sea which,
rushing up on the flat beach,
runs out, even thinner and more transparent,
and does not return to its source but sinks into the sand and disappears.
~Hans Urs von Balthasar from Origen: Spirit and Fire
The Word became flesh.
Ultimate Mystery born with a skull you could crush one-handed.
It is not tame.
It is not beautiful.
It is uninhabitable terror.
It is unthinkable darkness riven with unbearable light.
Agonized laboring led to it,
vast upheavals of intergalactic space,
time split apart,
a wrenching and tearing of the very sinews of reality itself.
You can only cover your eyes and shudder before it, before this:
“God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God… who for us and for our salvation,” as the Nicene Creed puts it, “came down from heaven.”
Only then do we dare uncover our eyes and see what we can see.
It is the Resurrection and the Life she holds in her arms.
It is the bitterness of death he takes at her breast.
~Frederick Buechner from Whistling in the Dark
Down he came from up,
and in from out,
and here from there.
A long leap,
an incandescent fall
to naked, frail, small,
into our chill night air,
shrunk, in infant grace,
to our damp, cramped
the shivering sheep.
And now, after all,
there he lies,
~Luci Shaw “Descent” from Accompanied By Angels
Perhaps it is the mystery of the thing that brings us back,
again and again, to read the story of
how God came down and disappeared into us.
How can this be?
God appearing on earth first to animals,
then the most humble of humans.
How can He be?
Through the will of the Father and the breath of the Spirit,
the Son was, and is and yet to be.
O great mystery beyond all understanding.
This year’s Barnstorming Advent theme “… the Beginning shall remind us of the End” is taken from the final lines in T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Cultivation of Christmas Trees”
O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum.
O great mystery and wondrous sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord lying in their Manger!
Blessed is the Virgin
whose womb was worthy to bear the Lord Jesus Christ.
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