Chosen Impotence

NOTE: Inspired by the beautiful Easter hymns I’ve been reading this week, I revised a “poem” I wrote a couple years ago. Just think of it as word-dabbling, not real poetry. I wrote this at Christmas time after I saw my first blown-up nylon Nativity scene.

Another lawn-nativity,

This one inflated,

Blown air shaping colored cloth

Into Mary and Joseph, the wise men, the shepherds.


I am reminded of the Michelin Man or Pillsbury Doughboy.

But distaste aside,

The smallest blob of puffed nylon,

Decked with a curved-line smile and dots for eyes,

Is still meant to represent

My Christ.

My Christ,

How incredibly helpless He chose to be,

in the form of a baby’s helpless body,

A feeble cry the only tool He had

To summon needs and desires.

How UN-omnipotent he seems.


Winter gives way to new spring.

A different icon dots church fronts, some yards,

Fewer places than the last.

And, generally, of sturdier material.

No nylon certainly.

Yet the central subject is the same,

But isn’t.

The infant flesh is grown, and

Covers a man’s sinews, bones and muscles


This Christ, though, is also frail, with

Only a thin line between Him and destruction.

He dangles from punctured wrists,

Pushes on destroyed ankles to get breath,

Bleeds from head and back and side.


Another image of impotence:

He cries,

He suffers,

He dies,


The Babe and the Crucified One,

These two,

Celebrated every year.

Is this what God desires?

Could He want monuments to His vulnerability?

These are not the statues human rulers would covet,

No depictions of parade glory and iron-fisted might.

These are moments when the fallen one

Must have breathed victory in the air,

Must have thought himself powerful in comparison.

Could God, with ways higher—and deeper—

Than our own

Be unconcerned with this display of humility?

Be willing to leave us to wonder and seek

This paradox God,

His strength perfected in weakness,

His justice satisfied with the sacrifice of Himself,

His revolution accomplished by love—

With no destruction other than

the single, willing life of its leader

And the symbolic ripping of a temple cloth?


A birth, a life, a death—

A chosen impotence


The redemption of mankind.

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