Posted by: Phoebe | December 17, 2009

Annunciation: The spark of the moment when God became Man

I tend to take a while to post things because I am a perfectionist. Advent is also a challenge for my perfectionism because I feel that I should plumb the depths, seek God whole-heartedly and meditate on his mysteries with perfect zeal. Well, needless to say I never live up to it. I fall short of all those things and tend to encounter Christmas guiltily, with much more luke-warm-ness than I would like. That is ironic, because in reality Christmas is the time when we remember that because of Jesus, guilt is no more, and grace is forevermore. 

There are moments in the midst of my luke-warm-ness, glorious moments, when I taste the mystery of Christmas and am humbled by God’s goodness. This poem is one of them. Read it at least three times. The first time to get the feeling of it, the second time to understand it, and the third and fourth times to let it imprint the facets of its beauty on your heart. The beauty of the Incarnation, God becoming Man, occurring by that strange mystery, the virgin birth.

The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner


By John Donne (1572-1631)


Salvation to all that will is nigh;

That All, which always is All every where,

Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,

Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,

Lo, faithful Virgin, yields himself to lie

In prison, in thy womb; and though he there

Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet he will wear

Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.

Ere by the spheres time was created, thou

Wast in his mind, who is thy Son, and Brother;

Whom thou conceiv’st, conceived; yea thou art now

Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother;

Thou hast light in dark; and shut’st in little room,

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.


How can Jesus be 100% man and 100% God? How can he be sinless and yet understand what it is to be a human struggler? How can the immortal die? Immensity be shrunk into flesh? As I meditated in an earlier post, these paradoxes are contained in Jesus, Emmanuel. These paradoxes are the richness behind Christmas that I strive to savour.  Jesus, receive my imperfect worship.


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