the 12th day of Christmas

Today is the 12th Day of Christmas. Here it’s Drei-Königs-Tag (Three Kings Day), and for most people the close of the Christmas season. (Though, for the Orthodox Church, tonight is Christmas Eve!)  Students head back to school tomorrow, and Christbäume (Christmas trees) will disappear from windows and plazas. However, before the holidays are completely past, I’ll send Christmas and New Year’s greetings in the form of a couple poems….

Der Christbaum

What is this speck of Dust, this humble Grain,
That’s sown in secret, sewn in depths of earth?*
Who knows this Kernel’s value, weighs its worth,
Or grasps Divine descent to Man’s terrain? 
Great marvel – that God as Man, in Man, would deign 
To come, take root, in clay. In lowly birth
He joins the human scape – its mirth, its dearth – 
A Seed that dies, that others life may gain.**
Oh, Seed of the Woman,*** promised, concealed, revealed, 
Take root in me. Stem doubt, uproot my pride. 
My fear supplant with faith! Afield, I’d yield. 
Though soiled, sapped, let me in Vine abide.****
Bear fruit in me, till that day – sealed, healed – 
I join the Harvest on throne-fed river’s side.***** 

The Christ-tree 

Was ist der Staubesfleck, der demutige Sam‘n, 
Heimlich gesät, genäht in den Tiefen der Erde?
Wer kennt den Wert des Kerns, das Gewicht des Schatzes, 
Versteht den göttlichen Abstieg in sterblichen Raum? 
Welch Wunder – dass Gott als Mensch, in Menschen, kam 
Zu leben, leiden, lieben. In niedriger Geburt 
Nahm Platz bei uns – uns‘r Glück, uns‘re Armut.
Bevor sein‘ Zweige lebten, starb er am Baum!  
Du, Sam‘n der Frau, versproch‘n, verborg‘n, off‘nbart,
Schlag Wurzeln in mir. Hemm Zweif’ln, Hochmut halt,   
Mein‘ Angst ersetz mit Glaub‘n.  Was hart, mach zart. 
Ich möchte in der Rebe bleib‘n. Wenn Winter kalt 
Versteckt den Wuchs, gib Kraft, auf dich zu wart‘n. 
Die Frücht‘ Du gibst – dein‘ Erbe, Ernte bald.******

*“My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body…” (Psalm 139:15,16). 

**“’…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life’” (John 12:24,25).

***“’…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel’” (Genesis 3:15).
****“’I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing’” (John 15:5).

*****“Then the angel showed me the river of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1,2).  

******Thanks to flatmate Rachel for being my German consultant!


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