Rembrandt van Rijn – Adoration of the Shepherds
The child interrupts
the daily graze of life,
of a quiet night in the fields.
The child demands
following the angel’s call
in evening disquiet.
The child enters
the simple: cries, shivers,
needs food and warmth,
yet transforms it all.
The child fulfils
of longing, of waiting:
consoles, answers, pierces;
a sword, a king, a child.
Will God allow our disobedience and idolatry to go unpunished?
No, every sin is against the sovereignty, holiness, and goodness of God, and against his righteous law, and God is righteously angry with our sins and will punish them in his just judgment both in this life, and in the life to come.
(New City Catechism)
Goodness, then, is broken –
innocence lost –
Order, now disrupted, tends to judgment.
All creation groans;
its creatures turn
against us now.
Righteous truth burns us when it shines.
We hide among the leaves
yet storms will snap
and fire will reveal
what the life to come cannot contain.
Eden fractured, life stained:
what did we expect
who had all good
at fingertips and crushed it with greed?
And it will reveal
who has taken talents, hid
them in the frugal field,
who has sown what has been given
and let small things grow.
And it will reveal
the hearts of those who plant and reap,
the hearts of servants great
and small, the motives of the heart’s
dark countries. The light
will reveal, it will
shine into chasms, abscesses,
show forth the truth of what
we did while left unto our own
devices and desires. Let
the truth shine brightly in.
Look, the son comes;
the farmers steam at the sight.
The vineyard is theirs! He has no place.
Stone the son; kill the heir.
The vineyard is red with blood.
Look, the Son comes;
the farmers quake at the sight.
Rejected, now the cornerstone:
the vineyard’s his. He takes His place.
The blood-red Son ascends.
Detail from Rembrandt van Rijn, “Christ Driving Money Changes from the Temple”
The blind, the lame, are let inside;
the cursed now are blessed.
The king in triumph rides upon
a humble donkey’s colt.
The temple tables overturned,
the mind thrown into chaos,
prophecies are rendered true
in ways that chill our hearts.
The unexpected king burns bright
with anger at the sham.
He knows the depths of truest Law
and dies to see it kept.
And what is this that we now hear?
The workers who arrived too late –
the lazy, the beggars, the weak, the lame –
have won the Master’s favour and
have earned equal pay.
What is this that he proclaims,
this carpenter with hands of dust?
The children step aside while dogs
who surely are not fit for crumbs
have places at the feast.
The first are last, the last are first;
grumbles sound in stony hearts.
But broken hearts which yawn and weep
abound in joy, and even stone
can soon be rolled away.