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Christmas Sonnet 2018—Humble Exemplar

For this year’s Christmas prayer sonnet I thought Philippians 2:6–9 would be a good seed text. It’s not strictly a “Christmas text,” but it is definitely about the incarnation, and, significantly, about our response to it, as Paul suggests earlier in the chapter: Humble perseverance in the face of God’s sovereign dispensation yields effective love and divine exaltation.

Though Christ Jesus existed in the form of God, he did not regard being equal with God something to be held on to for his advantage. Rather, he emptied himself, in that he took on the form of a slave. Then, when he had assumed human appearance and adopted human behavioral patterns, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death on the cross. Therefore God highly exalted him. Philippians 2:6–9

You did not grasp divine advantages
Or hold yourself above us with disdain;
You did not claim your royal priv’leges
Or keep yourself from feeling all our pain.
Instead, you took a humble servant’s form,
Assumed the outward mode of flesh and bone,
And, as a human, made yourself conform
Your life to that which each of us must own.
But you were not the same in ev’ry way;
You trusted humbly in God’s sov’reign will;
Obeying in the face of death’s dismay,
Your life became a beacon on a hill.
Exalted now, a savior for the earth,
We celebrate the story of your birth!


[If you like this poem prayer, you can find it and many others like it in my book: Prayers of Praise & Celebration.]


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