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24 June 2012

Perhaps you think Me stooping


Perhaps you think Me stooping
I'm not ashamed of that
Christ -- stooped until He touched the Grave --
Do those at Sacrament

Commemorative Dishonor
Or love annealed of love
Until it bend as low as Death
Redignified, above?
                                                            F273 (1862)  833

The ecstasy of communion, honoring the physical body of Jesus
Sculptor: René de Saint-Marceaux
A slightly different version of this poem was sent to Samuel Bowles. That one has only one stanza – which makes more sense, I think; and in stead of “Redignified,” Christ is “Re-royalized” in heaven. “Redignified,” while not a word that trips off one’s tongue, goes down a bit more smoothly than “Re-royalized.” It is probably better theologically as well, as Jesus was probably not in danger of losing his status as part of the Holy Trinity.
            Both versions, however, maintain a slightly sarcastic tone. The narrator suggests she has been accused of abasing herself, or being overly humble – or “stooping.” She doesn’t deny it, but she turns that bug into a feature. Jesus himself stooped. He abased himself with decidedly imperfect and lowly humans, even stooping so low as dying and being buried.
            But is Jesus scorned for that, she asks? Far from it. At the sacrament of Communion, worshippers kneel and commemorate the “Dishonor.” “Love annealed of love”: this sacrificial love strengthens and purifies our own ability to feel love, even to death. This is what may seem like stooping in this life but will be rewarded in heaven.
            I’m not overly fond of this poem as I find little that is fresh in it and little of the poetic. It reads to me like a poet’s argument in her own defense. Nothing to take home from it.

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