Parable of the Old Man and the Young

Last Saturday we went downtown for our anniversary. We caught part of a performance at Millennium Park of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. It incorporates poetry from WWI era poet Wilfred Owen. It is a musical masterpiece exploring the inglorious side of war. At the completion of its first performance the audience sat stunned before erupting in applause. While I’m not a full-blown pacifist, I found this section to be powerfully moving. Hopefully the biblical allusion is clear:

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Ultimately, of course, the substitutionary Ram the Lord has provided is Christ. He is our Sacrifice. But to take hold of Him does involve, in a sense, sacrificing our pride. And if we won’t, the result is unfathomable destruction.


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