He’s also a good writer and savvy theologian. I wanted to share his Christmas sonnets here before 3 Kings Day hits.
These poems are to be read like toasts, in good cheer. They’re all based on “types” of Christ in the manner of Christological typology–an ancient interpretive tool understanding Christ as the fulfillment of God’s activity throughout salvation history. Christ is the new Adam, the new Isaac, the new Moses, etc. Ideally, these could be read as a part of a feast. Perhaps a 12-course meal on January 5th, the 12th night of Christmas? Each course could start or end with one of these toasts. You’d be sure to have drunk the full breadth of Christmastide–good to the last drop. I’ve never tried that… Maybe next year.
1. To Christ the New Adam
To Christ the Lord a brand new Adam, he
The Breath of Life into our our dust re-breathed,
To him all laud and honor be assigned,
Humanity’s designer now designed.
Once Adam and his counterpart would walk
The garden every evening for a talk
Til temptation’s taste God’s grace betrayed.
These friends of God were naked and afraid.
This Adam is our ancestor and kin,
But now true human life again begins.
Old Adam’s peace with God, as friend,
Is why this re-cast Adam does descend.
Old Adam’s story, our disgraceful fall.
New Adam’s life, and death, redeems us all.
2. To Christ the New Noah
To mind, as friendly beasts around Christ stood,
There springs a tale of water, beasts, and wood,
Of Noah called to build for God an ark
As storm clouds gathered, ominous and dark.
The Holy family in a stable hid
As Noah and his family also did.
God tried to wash all fallenness away
From death’s deep wake, to dawn a better day.
God chose to never try the flood again,
And here is where our dear Christ enters in.
For him, the wood: The manger, then the cross.
Baptismal waters wash away our dross.
His Spirit is the dove on Calv’ry perched
The Christ-constructed arc is now the church.
3. To Christ the New Isaac
To Christ the Lord, a brand new Isaac, he
A shoot from Jesse’s Abrahamic tree.
Old Abe was promised kids at ninety-one,
Young Isaac was his Sarah’s firstborn son.
And he was their beloved pride and joy,
But God asked Abe to sacrifice his boy.
In faithfulness and fear Abe acquiesced
I still can’t see how this was heaven-blessed.
Then God stopped Abe and proved in Isaac’s life
That this is not God’s kind of sacrifice.
The faithful need not sacrifice another
We need not separate a child and mother.
Instead the sacrifice New Isaac gives
Is off’ring his own life so all may live.
4. To Christ the New Joseph
Imagine Christ the youngest of 12 brothers
His swaddling cloth a coat of many colors.
Eleven brothers did, as Judas will,
Sell Joseph out, a perfect plan, until,
Cast out he finds himself in Pharoah’s court.
The nascent Christ is Joseph, of a sort.
A dreamer, to be sure, but fully wise,
By his own tribal kin likewise despised.
The technicolor curtain to be torn,
To conquer o’er the grave is Christ now born.
Seek solace from this famine-fallowed land.
New Joseph sits enthroned at God’s right hand.
From siblings’ malintented cross of wood.
Came resurrection, God’s intended good.
5. To Christ the New Moses
To Christ the Lord, a brand new Moses, he
Has come to finally set all people free
To break the chains, the bars, the whip, the rod,
To bring for all earth’s Pharoahs signs that God
Has heard the cries of slaves to greed and might.
He recapitulates Passover night.
In Moses’ basket, Mary lays I AM
Who gives himself to be our Paschal Lamb.
And as in desert wilderness they saw
The gifts of water, manna, and the law
So Christ brings streams of mercy, bread of peace,
And to those held in bondage, sweet release.
As Moses brought commandments from above,
Christ’s new commandment, as his name, is Love.
6. To Christ the New David
To Christ the Lord, a new King David, he
Has come to rule the world with equity.
From Bethlehem, the Lord’s Davidic home,
Behold he comes to mount his manger throne.
Though Samuel warned a king was a mistake,
As all they do is take and take and take,
The people Israel insisted still
To be like other nations was their will.
Heart-broken over this unfaithful bride,
Their God in perfect patience did provide.
And though King David reigns the Hall of Fame,
This day three Kings bow down at Jesus’ name.
While most kings only take and take some more,
This Christ, new-born, is gracious evermore.
7. To Christ the New Ruth
To Christ, a recast Ruth, the nearlywed,
We raise a toast as they lay down their head.
Our Christ, like Ruth (Naomi’s foreign friend)
Committed to a promise, without end.
As Ruth was loyal in the midst of grief,
So Christ shows faithfulness, beyond belief.
They both attest, “Where e’er you go, I’ll be,
And, “We will one forever-fam’ly be.”
From boundless fruitful freedom, now enfleshed,
The firstborn of the harvest to be threshed.
To gather in the sheaves of broken dreams,
Our broken, banished-barley souls to glean,
In Christ, a Ruth, to us God self-entrusts
That none can put asunder God and us.
8. To Christ the New Jonah
To Naughty Nineveh God sent him out.
“You must repent or else,” he was to shout.
But Jonah ran from God and said “No way!”
Aboard a ship he slipped into the spray.
While playing possum, fleeing from the Lord,
His fellow sailors tossed him overboard.
Like Nineveh, our world is sick with sin
But Christ will walk where Jonah fell right in.
Once, Jonah prayed for 3 days in a fish
Then hurled ashore, he granted God’s own wish.
Where Jonah feared, our Christ was thrice as brave:
And for our sake was swallowed by the grave.
To Christ the Lord, a brand new Jonah, see?
Plunged into death he rose to victory.
9. To Christ the New Way (Based on writings of the prophet Isaiah)
To Christ the Lord, the Newly-Lighted Way
Isaiah’s glimpse foretold is here today.
In desert exile from the garden, we
Have prayed in shadow bent on feeble knee.
Arise and shine because the Light has come.
The lion and the lamb at last are one.
So walk in light and shout the great Amen.
Our Zion king instructs from Bethlehem.
The good and level road is ready now.
Convert your weapons, dare to share the plow.
Come ruler, president, and governor
And meet your lowly subjects’ comforter.
Trade evil for the Good, do not delay.
For this is Christ’s inauguration day.
10. To Mary Bearer of God
If Eve is mother to our wanton shame
Then Mary is a mother free from blame
So ponder with me now this “mother mild”
At once both meek and mighty, like her child.
A pregnant teenaged girl true wisdom had
Contemplative but fierce and shocked but glad
Tis she who births our Savior full of grace,
In labor’s pain rebirths the human race.
Her babe is firstborn of creation, true,
Which means, in theory, she’s our mother too.
The Theotokos is her name in Greek
The bearer of the one the wisest seek.
She bears God into life, and so, may we
Be bearers of the Light we long to see.
11. To Christ our Sin
Let us who know our sin now raise a glass,
To Christ the scapegoat flanked by ox and ass,
Our asses for to save, he takes on skin,
The guiltless bears our guilt, becomes our sin.
By faith, through tears, he downs a poisoned chalice,
His body filled with all our lust and malice.
Who Peter once denied, becomes denial.
The righteous judge endures the time of trial.
Who Judas once betrayed becomes betrayal
Consumes the murderous rage by Cain enabled.
The depths of all our evil, sin, and death,
Is crucified in flesh by holiness.
And can it be? Let all our tongues employ!
The wrath of God has sin in Christ destroyed.
12. To Christ the Word Made Flesh (John 1)
To Christ the Word made flesh now let us sing
As we behold the poe’try of this thing
This Word was with and was what Wonder wrought
This wondrous Word without which we were naught
Mere mortals mystified by elf on shelf,
This Light now lit is light that lights itself!
The True Light that enlightens everyone
As if there is no shadow, only sun
Unbowed, unbent, unbound by time and space,
From faithful fullness giv’n as grace on grace
He deigns to dine despite those that deny
This life that lives so all of death may die.
So in the name of Light and Word again,
I wish you Merry Christmas, friends. Amen.