Nov 15, 2008

The Gift of Gifts

November 15th marks the first day of the Nativity Fast for the Eastern Orthodox Church.  As with the Great Fast that precedes Pascha (Easter), this is a time (40 days) of abstinence and spiritual reflection in preparation for the Nativity of Christ on December 25th.  So my thoughts turn toward Christmas.

One of my favorite books through the years has been a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions entitled The Valley of Vision. I have been reading one of the selections each day during my evening prayers.  How fitting that the one I read two days ago was about the Gift of Christ himself.mpj038474500001

O Source of All Good,
What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts,
thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
his self-emptying incomprehensible,
his infinity of love beyond the heart's grasp.
Herein is wonder of wonders:
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him.
Herein is love:
when I cannot rise to him he draws near on wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.
Herein is power:
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
he united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.
Herein is wisdom:
when I was undone, with no will to return to him, and no intellect to devise recovery,
he came, God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost,
as man to die my death, to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.
O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds, and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer's face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his.
In him thou hast given me so much
that heaven can give no more.