I was introduced this year to a poem by G. K. Chesterton that is written through the eyes of the Magi. It serves well as a meditation on the incredible humility we must have in approaching the realities of Christmas. For Christ, this world was not safe, but a place in which He would be a man of sorrows and well acquainted with suffering. But Christ was not safe for this world, but one who would bring down all things lifted up against the character of God.
We are called to walk a similar path. In His name we must embark upon a mission of mercy into a perilous world that will often be neither kind nor safe to the ambassadors of the Messiah. But we are not going unarmed. We carry with us the honorable message of the Gospel which is powerful to save men and women from the darkest crevices of a fallen world.
Let this poem be a challenge for us to…
see the wood among the trees,
call sin by its simplest name,
perceive the furies behind our passions,
mark the violence behind our lauded philosophies,
and unmask the evil schemes of Satan put forward as the right side of history.
With mercy as plain as bread, and honor as hard as stone, may we have the courage to…
find the place where men can pray,
gaze upon what is too big for sight,
humble ourselves in unfeigned truth,
and laugh this Christmas with all the shocking, surging hope of Aslan’s roar.
The Wise Men
by G.K. Chesterton
Step softly, under snow or rain,
To find the place where men can pray;
The way is all so very plain
That we may lose the way.
Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore
On tortured puzzles from our youth,
We know all labyrinthine lore,
We are the three wise men of yore,
And we know all things but the truth.
We have gone round and round the hill
And lost the wood among the trees,
And learnt long names for every ill,
And served the mad gods, naming still
The furies the Eumenides.
The gods of violence took the veil
Of vision and philosophy,
The Serpent that brought all men bale,
He bites his own accursed tail,
And calls himself Eternity.
Go humbly…it has hailed and snowed…
With voices low and lanterns lit;
So very simple is the road,
That we may stray from it.
The world grows terrible and white,
And blinding white the breaking day;
We walk bewildered in the light,
For something is too large for sight,
And something much too plain to say.
The Child that was ere worlds begun
(…We need but walk a little way,
We need but see a latch undone…)
The Child that played with moon and sun
Is playing with a little hay.
The house from which the heavens are fed,
The old strange house that is our own,
Where trick of words are never said,
And Mercy is as plain as bread,
And Honour is as hard as stone.
Go humbly, humble are the skies,
And low and large and fierce the Star;
So very near the Manger lies
That we may travel far.
Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain.
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again,
And we are little children walking
Through the snow and rain.