Saturday, April 11, 2009

It would have been enough!

A few days ago, the church that hosts Fiona's preschool was offering a Passover Seder for anyone who would like to come. We didn't go (I didn't know about it; it was my birthday, and I'd elected to go out to eat that night) but Deborah's curiosity was piqued, and she started Googling.

One of the pieces she came across was a Passover song, Dayenu. Dayenu means "It would have been enough," and starts its fifteen verses by outlining God's freeing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt:

If He had brought us out from Egypt,
and had not carried out judgments against them
— It would have been enough!

If He had carried out judgments against them,
and not against their idols
— It would have been enough!

If He had destroyed their idols,
and had not smitten their first-born
— It would have been enough!

If He had smitten their first-born,
and had not given us their wealth
— It would have been enough!

If He had given us their wealth,
and had not split the sea for us
— It would have been enough!

...and so on, covering five miracles and five meetings with God.

Christians, believing that the Messiah has come, would not want to stop with the building of the temple, but would want to go on (and here, I start making up my own verses):

If he had built the temple,
and had not accepted sacrifices
— It would have been enough!

If he had accepted sacrifices,
and had not given us Messiah
— It would have been enough!

If he had given us Messiah,
but had not let him die in our place
— It would have been enough!

If he had let him die in our place
but had not risen from the dead
— It would have been enough!

If he had risen from the dead
but had not given us the Holy Spirit
— It would have been enough!

It's tempting to stop there, and in practice, many Christians do: "Sure, God saved me from my sins, but what has he done for me lately?" I am as guilty as any man for letting the pressures and demands of life, work, family, and health get in the way of appreciating the spiritual. It's tempting to merely count one's blessings ("If he had given me a wife, but had not also given me three children...") which is good, too, but... but what? How do His blessings fit with His plan? Neither the theology nor the history are written in stone. The next five stanzas are harder to write:

If he had given us the Holy Spirit,
but did not have a plan for our lives
— It would have been enough!

If he had a plan for our lives,
but did not help us live it
— It would have been enough!

If he helped us to live it,
but did not encourage us in our walk
— It would have been enough!

If he encouraged us in our walk,
but did not also bless us beyond measure
— It would have been enough!

If he blessed us beyond measure,
but did not also promise us heaven
— It would have been enough!

It is enough! But we serve a exceedingly, blatantly generous God who goes far and above what's necessary. And that is the mystery to us: why a perfect God would look on imperfect man, and, instead of destroying us, he gives everything to bless us, and save us, and lift us up, and take us to be with Him.

Dayenu!

2 comments:

Carolina Kerr said...

This is a masterpiece.

Jonadab said...

And here I was thinking that one of the most important rules for the Passover Seder was that no Gentile may eat it.