Thursday, December 22, 2011

O Rex Gentium

Note: This post is the sixth in a series of posts on the "O Antiphons" that I wrote two years ago. I'm reposting them here this year as we head towards Christmas.

O King of the nations, and their desire, 
the cornerstone making both one: 
Come and save the human race, 
which you fashioned from clay. 

We are all just clay, after all. We seem to do everything we can to forget that fact. We wrap ourselves in fancy clothes, strive to own nice cars and houses, to have powerful and impressive jobs—anything we can think of to hide the fact that we are just clay.

We form ourselves into ethnic groups, tribes, states, nations, so that we can point at other clay and say how much better we are than them. We go to war to protect the illusion that we're more than clay. We get offended whenever anyone even suggests we might be less than what we want to believe we are.

We want so desperately to believe we're more than clay.

O come, Desire of nations, 
bind in one the hearts of all mankind; 
bid thou our sad divisions cease, 
and be thyself our King of Peace. 

The children of Israel were God's chosen people. God pointed at them in their clay-ness and said, “I choose you.” They often thought that meant that they weren't clay, and so they got into all sorts of trouble. In actuality, though, God chose Israel to be a light to the nations, to clarify once and for all that being clay was not a bad thing... but that it was the most beautiful thing in the world. Israel was meant to display the glory of being just clay so that all nations could see their true nature. Because prophets and sages told Israel the truth: they were beloved clay.

One of my professors from Sewanee recently published a book. I haven't read it yet, it's on my bookshelf waiting for me, but I absolutely adore the title: Beloved Dust. We are all beloved dust. We are all beloved clay.

God sees us in our weakness and loves us dearly, not in spite of our weakness, but right through to the depths of our weakness. Saint Paul knew this, that's why he wrote the arguing and schismatic church in Corinth, reminding them that there was a profound treasure in their clay-ness. The treasure of being beloved of God.

God loves us in our weakness. All of the things in our lives we anxiously try to paint over, God caresses with the hand of the Potter, transforming our weakness into God's divine intention. And thus our weakness is beautiful. Nations war and rage. The Spirit whispers, “Peace. You are all beloved.”

Groups split and split, each claiming superiority over the other. The cornerstone reaches out and grasps the two bitterly divided groups and joins them. Remember, it was the stone that the builders rejected that has become the cornerstone. The builders thought it was weak and clay, but in that weakness God's glory was revealed. In that weakness, the stone has lovingly connected with the weakness of all humanity, drawing all things together into one new structure. And every stone therein is beloved of God.

War and rage no longer. Put down your need to prove yourself. Discover that you are beloved and that the Other is beloved as well. The King of all beloved clay is coming and our hearts will be bound into one.

O Rex Gentium.


Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

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