31 December 2008

A Little O.P. for New Year's Eve

Sanctuary at Midnight

The last candle burned gently on the altar... Beyond the dark windows the midnight was already alive with bells and whistles, but here they seemed now like sounds from a lost world... In a sudden wind from the sacristy door the candle flickered forward and threw into bold relief the face on the crucifix... Shadows played over the red wounds, and in the eyes in which pain had been a prisoner these nineteen hundred years there was darkness... At the foot of the sanctuary steps stood the tree and the manger... The place of His birth was in the gloom, the place of His death was in the light... All the years of His way from the Manger to the Cross were in the brief steps up the sanctuary, up to the Everlasting Altar... Here were beginning and end... Not by the years could His Life and Power be measured, nor by the dust of centuries, but only by the wounds still red against the white dominion of His throne...

Was it the darkness or the hour which seemed to move His patient face in pity?... Surely no sculptor had caught the moment of "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"... That was so very long ago... The bells and whistles beyond me in the dark were marking the end of another year between His heaven and my world... There had been many of them now - almost twice as many as the number of His days before the eyes of men... Strange that all our years should be measured by His days and all the time of man by one day when, in darkness and pain, God was making eternity ready and history was preparing for B.C. and A.D.... Strange, too, with the wonder of heaven and hope, that I can repeat His prayer tonight... "Father, forgive."... Forgive me - for the lost but unforgotten hours of the dying year, for the erring way and barren heart... The pivot of the year is too brief to say more than the one word which makes the years an altar stair and the time of life the lifting of the angelic trumpets... Midnight is lonely now with lonely bells, and my candle of prayer burns low... There is only one cross on the altar tonight... On the hill there were three, but the children of the man on the cross to the left are blowing whistles tonight, and the children of the man on the right are in sanctuaries the world over... His time was short, perhaps shorter than mine, but his prayer was good, much better than mine... Remember me... Make my failures Thy victories and the years of my sins the eternity of Thy grace... Remember me... Thy footsteps grow brighter as the years grow dim, and no calendar can limit Thy power... Remember me... This moment, not of yesterday nor of tomorrow, is Thine just as the years are Thine...

There are other voices in the sanctuary now, the waiting saints made perfect at last and the great multitude past human numbering who have been remembered at altars in heaven and on earth... In a little while we shall be wise as they whose wisdom is a song: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."...

The Pilgrim, pp. 23, 24

6 comments:

Jeremy Loesch said...

Will, Happy New Year! That was a very lovely snippet and it put some moving images in my mind. It's a good way to begin 2009- we'll anticipate what our gracious God will bring to us all. Blessings on your year and thanks for all that you post.

Jeremy

Jeremy Loesch said...

Will, I meant to ask earlier, "Who, or what, is O.P?"

FB, SSP said...

O.P. Kretzmann?

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

The students at Valpo were blessed to have Dr. Kretzmann's words added to The Cresset.

William Weedon said...

Yes, Dr. O.P. Kretzmann. Amazing writer, preacher, and teacher. Nope, I never knew him. I only have read his little book *The Pilgrim*, which I devour more than once a year - and always come away refreshed. Have begged CPH to republish, but no bites so far.

David Clapper said...

There are 4 copies available on ABEBooks. That's how I got mine.

Try this URL ==> http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=o+p+kretzmann&kn=pilgrim&x=60&y=15