A Poem for Today, Advent II
This week The Christian Century published something remarkable. “Forty New O Antiphons: One Winter” by the poet Diane Tucker.
Most of us are familiar with the “O Antiphon” form from the Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Christians have been singing the O antiphons during Advent since the 8th century. As the Century’s editors explain, “Each antiphon contains both a name of Christ and a call for God to break into the world. Each one is a message of both longing and hope that speaks during a time when the sunlight dims and we wait for new light to dawn.”
I accompany these with a photo from a hike I took this week in the Cascades. If you look carefully on the upper right you will see the morning light just touching the highest peak in an otherwise shadowed and snowy scene. Adventish.
I’ve selected three of Tucker’s forty O Antiphons as our poem for today. May Tucker’s work bless you as it has me.
“O Red-Faced Jesus of the Upset Tables, keep relieving us of our religious greed. Please topple to the ground our self-salvations. Tear up our moral scorecards and one-upmanship. Bless us with true poverty of spirit that we may flock into your house of prayer, bringing nothing but our yawning need.”
“O Loud and Lavish Lover of the awkward, the shy and scared, the socially inept, open our eyes to all their silent beauties. May we not miss the faithful hearts among us, not full of many words, but big with love. May we never idolize exalted speech. Bless us in our stuttering wordlessness.”
“O Jesus Christ, down in the winter solstice, the dark pit of the year, the lowest low, be with us in our waiting and lamenting. Assure us that our cold hearts are not dead, but dormant now, only to wake anew. Help our emptiness believe you’re filling. Crushed by this world, embrace our sighing souls.”
Aren’t those just something? I chose the second of them thinking of Joe Biden and his experience with stuttering.
A final note regarding the photo. It was taken by a young lady, Lisa, who I met at the head of the trail around the lake.
“Are you going around,” I asked her? “I’m not sure,” she said. “I’m from Mississippi and a little uncomfortable with snow.” I said, “Well, strength in numbers, you’re welcome to join me.” “Okay, I will.”
As we walked the trail around the lake I tried to take a picture or two, but my phone camera wasn’t cooperating. Lisa from Mississippi offered to text me her photos when she got home, which she did. So this photo counts as a special gift of Advent grace.