Tuesday, December 18, 2007

December 18: O Lord of Freedom

Today is day two of the “O” days: O Adonai, O Lord of might, O Lord of Israel.

From the hymnal:
O come, O come, thou Lord of might, who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height in ancient times didst give the Law, in cloud, in majesty, and awe.

A more literal translation:
O come, O come, great Lord of Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
Who gave him the holy Law on Sinai mountain,
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

It’s about freedom, always has been and always will be. Even the Law was and is about freedom, i.e., this is how you can be free together.

“Adonai” was and is one of the many names of God for Israel: the Mighty One. Our prayers frequently begin, “Almighty God.” As I’ve said in other contexts, don’t miss the irony. God’s “might” is different than our conceptions of might. It is power over nothing but tyranny, because it is also the empowerment of freedom, and, therefore, on God’s part (wait, wait, here comes the irony) massive vulnerability. “For freedom Christ has set us free,” says St. Paul to the Galatians, “do not therefore submit yourselves again to a yoke of slavery.” Not even to God.

Here’s a wonderful take on what freedom means by W.H. Auden, a favorite poet of mine:

Blessed Woman,
Excellent Man,
Redeem for the dull the
Average Way,
That common ungifted
Natures may
Believe that their normal
Vision can
Walk to perfection.

Come, Adonai, stretch out your mighty had to set us free.

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