Broken Praise (12/2016)

This is a poem I wrote for my Church’s annual Christmas Eve Candlight Service this year. I’ve been writing and sharing a poem since I was in my early teens. 

This year, I finally found my inspiration on Christmas Eve when I was at my grandparents. (It’s become a bit of tradition for friends to ask when I finally wrote it. This time I was in the car heading home from my grandparents, less than an hour before I needed to be at the church.) 

My grandfather said something that kept going around in my head. He was speaking of his mother, my great grandmother, who would nearly shout when praying. When he asked her why she always prayed so loudly, she answered, “I am so insignificant. I have to shake the rafters in heaven so I’m heard.”

It was something that itched my brain. Because that is the beauty of God. God doesn’t need your shouts to be heard, he listens to that quiet plea in the depths of the silence, when you have no words, he still hears you. The angels are said to rejoice when someone comes to Christ (Like 15: 10). That there is so much excitement in heaven that the very angels share it with each other.

We humans are not insignificant. God is so eager to have that relationship with us, that his messengers understand and rejoice with him when one comes back to him. We are not insignificant to God, we don’t need to shout. He hears us.

Broken Praise  (RKG 12/2016)
The rafters shook in Heaven today.
A shout was heard as the angels came
Rejoicing at the foot of Heaven’s throne.
Martyrs cried out with joy and saints danced with the Heavenly host.
The angels celebrated as Satan groaned.
Another one found is Satan’s loss.
The rafters in Heaven shook today.
The barest whisper of sound swept through Heaven with the force of a hurricane.
It had the power to close the gates of Hell and throw open the pearly ones.
It snatched from Satan’s grasp, one so lost that she found the light.
Her breathless plea, a whisper of hope, shook the rafters of Heaven today.
Lost in fear, betrayed by man, she took a leap and found faith again.
Never alone, always held, Emmanuel, God with us.
The Shepherd gathers his lost sheep, one by one.
The rafters shook in Heaven today.
A shout rang out and angels rejoiced around the Heavenly throne.
His cry was heard in the darkened room, despair so thick trying to suck him in.
But light abounded and darkness fled, salvation found, peace within hand.
A warrior’s cry so loud within his broken whisper, that demons quivered in fear.
Abused and hated, homeless and hungry, he took a leap and grabbed the hand of Salvation.
Never alone, always held, Emmanuel, God with us.
The Shepherd gathers his lost sheep, one by one.
The rafters shook in Heaven today.
The power of a broken praise that can heal hearts and find the lost.
Amazing the grace when love is given and hope restored.
The angels rejoice and martyrs cry with joy when one more is snatched from the grasp of Hell.
When Satan groaned, life is found.
When a birth foretold, and death chained the beast, Heaven’s rafters shook and a curtain tore, the joy poured out no longer contained.
Angels stood amazed as the Gospel was told, the love found in the act of sacrifice too great to bear.
My prayer so loud in my chaotic mind, shame pushed aside and grace found.
No longer condemned, I stand free.
I, I, shook the rafters in Heaven today, pleading to be taken out of the pit to live in the light of righteousness.
O come, O come, Emmanuel, take my hand and pull me free. Set me on the mountain high, out of this pit take me now.
Break the grasping talons of Satan now, shatter my chains, no longer enslaved.
Coat me in the sacrifice of love, wash me in the river of life, let me live in your perfect light.
My broken praise, my gift to you.
My rejoicing joined the angels today, as I was found in the darkness.
My Shepherd led me forth to the light, to drink deeply of the never ending life-giving water, never to thirst again.
The rafters shook in Heaven today.
Satan raged while the angels rejoiced.
I found my God when all was lost.
The gates of Hell slammed shut while Heaven celebrated.
One who was lost was found.


Why the Manger matters

So, now we know why I, at least, think the Wise Men and the Shepherds matter in the Nativity narrative. So, what is the big deal about the Messiah being born in a manger?

The Manger is so important to the narrative. It is the marked difference between earthly kings and a Heavenly One.

What the manger shows is the sheer contempt that God has for the riches of this world. Where all other kings gather riches and comfort to themselves, almost always to the detriment of their people, the King of Kings decides to be born with no comfort beyond hay and a rough trough made out of stone. The Son of Man became the poorest of the poor, and the manger reminds us of this, for Jesus was to live through human suffering and wretchedness.

What the manger shows is that even at his birth, the Savior was not wanted by the world. Where the average baby was born in a home, surrounded by loving parents and family members eager to welcome the new child in, Jesus Christ was born with just his parents in attendance.

What the manger shows is that even in the Savior’s birth, the world despised him. Being turned away from the innkeeper, a pregnant Mary had no recourse but to give birth in this shelter for animals. Not only at his birth did the world turn their back on Jesus, but he was placed upon a rough wooden cross to die and then was buried in a borrowed tomb. The world has showed it’s contempt for the Messiah since the very beginning of his earthly life.

What the manger shows is the world does not know how to handle a Heavenly King. Everything a earthly king would have gotten when born was denied to the Son of God, and He came of His own free will to save us.

There is unimaginable beauty in the fact that a Godly King chose to be born as a baby to a virgin mother and a father who worked with his hands, creating. There is beauty that even when denied the adoration demanded of a kingly birth, nature and heaven still praised him. The lowly shepherds and the pagan wise men were the only ones who knew true deity when they saw it. They were the only ones to pay the earthly adoration demanded and were the only ones to bow before the newborn King.

Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Savior of all mankind, was born in a stable. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a rough stone manger, making his bed among the animals. He came to save the world of it’s sins, and not one person opened their home to his mother, who was in need.

Would you have opened the door that night?

Take a moment and thank God for the manger your Savior was laid in. For even though God held in contempt the riches of the world, he did not hold us in that same distaste.

This is what a manger would have looked like when Jesus was born. It wouldn't be these wooden ones that are so prevalent in today's pictures of the birth. Rather it would be stone, so strong hungry animals couldn't push it over.  Not very comfy looking even filled with hay, huh?

This is what a manger would have looked like when Jesus was born. It wouldn’t be these wooden ones that are so prevalent in today’s pictures of the birth. Rather it would be stone, so strong hungry animals couldn’t push it over.
Not very comfy looking even filled with hay, huh?

Luke 2 

The Birth of Jesus

 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough (a manger)—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.