THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
By Gary Naler
You say you want to have
A birthday party for me?
Well, let me tell you all, my friends,
About this body I see.
People gather around
A cake and presents too,
And blow out candles numbered by years.
But what is that to you?
Why is it you rejoice
For another year displace,
When you are bound within a vessel
That limits you to this time and place?
When Paul declared within God's word,
"Wretched man that I am,"
'Twas the body of man Paul did bemoan—
The seat of sin and shame.
If Paul declared, "O wretched man,"
Am I to celebrate him
Who gives me so much trouble
And makes my life so grim?
"Who will set me free
From the body of this death?,"
Is the fervent cry of every man
Whose heart's for righteousness.
I find then that I'm a man
Whose heart and mind desire good,
But the members of this body
Make me a prisoner to do things not I should.
Let candle one upon infernoed cake
Be a reminder to you as why,
A birthday celebration for a "wretched man"
Should not be happy, but cause to cry.
What does this body have to offer us,
And why do we celebrate it dear,
When according to the word of God
Its wretchedness is clear?
This wretched man that's been given me
Was cursed 6,000 years ago—
To work by the sweat of the brow to serve,
A task I do most loath!
'Tis most my waking hours
Are spent working for its gain—
To feed, clothe, comfort, and transport it,
My labors for it to maintain.
It serves me well and transports me
Only if I serve it first,
And give it all my attention due
In food and rest and thirst.
Withhold from it in abstinence
Any of its kingly demand,
And rebel it most certainly will
Until you'll find it not to stand.
It must have its way of course,
For if it gets out of sorts
Then you'll be left alone with it,
Bed-bound, and nightgown one sports.
And what else must we say
Does this vessel hold so true,
As the body we've all been given
For me and for you?
Is it a companion and a friend
That gives me counsel true—
Instructing me in righteousness
In all I say and do?
Is it my true and faithful one
Who'll see me to the end?
Do I call it wise counselor,
My faithful comrade and friend?
No indeed, 'tis none of these,
My body is to me.
For within my members, with Scriptures I must agree:
It is a different dreadful law I see!
'Tis a law of hatred, sin, and shame,
In my members I do bare:
Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh,
And boastful pride of life I share!
These deeds of this flesh are none to my advantage,
But often render me errant;
Immorality, impurity, sensuality, enmity, and all—
The kingdom of God I'll soon not inherit.
'Tis this candle-two should remind you of,
Not a second year to gain,
But within these members we do bear
The tormenting flesh of sinful tempt that leads us all to pain.
And can we then look at candle three
And in its light agree,
There be another pain besides temptation
This body brings to me?
'Tis the pain of sickness, sorrow, and death—
A very, very loathsome lot—
This "dear" body brings to me;
A very test so hot!
Can I rejoice and celebrate
That this body brings to me,
Feverful nights and endless days,
And in age blurred vision so I not see?
Of fruitless days from doubling pain
That harbors within my back,
Or the claws of crippling arthritis,
So my sorrows they not lack.
Who can begin to account the pains
And with poem to list all the woes,
Of tormented and afflicted bodies
That soon become our foes?
Bodies so frail and stature so weak,
That a germ so small I cannot even see,
Can enter into this castle of mine
To defeat and torment me.
Who can number, and dare we should,
All the pains and affliction
That are visited upon the body of man—
This place of his addiction!
My mind is a-whirl, speeding fast,
Troubled with a cyclone of torments,
That befall and come unto man,
To this body in swells of torrents.
"Whoa, hold them back!,"
Is our desperate cry and efforts;
Yet come they still from dawn to dawn
For under the curse this body suffers.
A thousand candles could be added here
To this flaming birthday cake,
For all our pains this body yields
And all our belly aches.
And some candles are so blue
And memories are so dark,
That best they be time forgotten
For the pains that they impart.
The sorrows of a son whose body
Simply could not handle
The grinding crash of cars colliding,
For this there best be no candle.
Oh the pains that come to us
From silent days gone by,
When eyes draw closed and bodies give way,
And in weakness they do die.
And oh the sorrows that come to us
When youthful years pass by,
And aging turns to agony,
And death lingers in the shadow of life.
This body that has been with me
Then becomes my cell,
And holds me aged captive there,
And memories past are all I tell.
Now let me ask, if I might please,
I see no room for deliberating:
If by it my entrance into this state I received,
Then why is my flesh worth celebrating?
Tell me now, am I to suppose
That as a partaker of all this trouble,
That I should celebrate receiving this body
That my sorrows it doth double?
Solomon king excelling in wisdom
Declared to you and me,
That to our way of viewing a birthday celebration,
He certainly did not agree.
For as it is written, in certain truth,
By a man who sought and did all,
That the outcome of death is desired over birth,
To be set free from sin's sorrows befall.
"The day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth,"
Is the wisdom of Solomon for us.
Then why do we hold as being so dear
That birthday of bother and fuss?
And we might consider and ponder afresh
Birthdays in a different view,
If in Scriptures we seek and realize
That celebrated birthdays were only two.
Herod Anitpas celebrated his birth,
And from it one became dead,
For when the daughter of Herodias performed her dance,
John that day lost his head.
And the second account of a birthday we see,
Making total of two,
Was when Pharaoh held a birthday feast for servants all,
And cupbearer went up, but baker's neck got a noose.
Two men with birthdays from Scriptures we see
Who celebrated them as oh so dear;
And two men also fell to death by neck—
A testimony we all should most fear!
Give me not a birthday cake
And remind me of my dread,
For on that day John and baker bemoaned
And at party entered the dead.
Give me not a reminder constant
That one more year has passed.
I've faced and faced the onslaught of carnal existence—
A value I hold not fast!
Passover Feast is a time of celebrating
Deliverance from Egypt's cruel hand—
Deliverance from bondage and loathsome labor,
To enter the Promised Land.
Do you think there'd be a celebration
For their loathsome labors in Egypt?
Would party dear be held to remember
The day they entered the bondage that keepeth?
Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles too
Were all commanded by Yahweh—
Paths of progress and days to remember;
But never a feast for their bondage!
So tell me my friend, when it's time to recall
Deliverance from bondage we gain,
Will we look back and celebrate with thanksgiving
Our birthday to this bondage of flesh and pain?
No more than do we celebrate now
An Egyptian bondage remembrance;
But the day of celebration that we will all take note
Will be when from this body we gain our deliverance!
So give me Passover to mark my days,
And from there I'll remember my beginning;
But a birthday of my bondage in Egypt land
Is a celebration of loathsome afflicting!
Deliverance from body of bondage in "Egypt"
Is a day that will be worth my celebration—
A day that will be long, long worth remembering,
'Tis my awaited Passover resurrection!
A year of life then in this carnal flesh
Is something that should be our dread;
But rather look and hope towards resurrection life—
Putting off this flesh instead.
So if you want to celebrate a birth,
Then let it not be for this one!
For the day draws near, yet till now no one's entered,
And birth from above yields body glistened.
A birth from dust is all we have—
Still cursed by Adam's flee.
But yet remains a day to come
For a body new reserved in heaven for me.
"You must be born from above," Yahshua did say.
But what is it He did mean?
That a birth yet lay before us still—
From Jerusalem above we glean!
One born of dust—a flesh to corrupt—
Is nothing to celebrate for;
But one to come that dust doth not corrupt—
For this I'll praise and adore!
So keep your cake and candles too;
They have no part with me.
A birthday celebrating life in the flesh
Is something I hold not with glee.
Jerusalem above I beckon you,
Prepare for me a place—
That body new, and old has gone,
And I look into His face.
In resurrection-first let me be,
I detest the state I'm in—
Filled with temptation, troubles, and sorrows anew—
Oh, let me enter in!
Let me be set free from these bonds of clay
That hold me fast each day,
And separate me from You
To look into Your face.
In seeing You, I long to know
As truly I've been known;
When scales of darkness fall from my eyes,
And darkness leaves with a groan!
If you think it queer I think this way,
That birthday celebrations not be unfurled,
Then, my friend, let me remind you dear
That in thought and actions we're not to be of this world.
The carnal flesh is clearly of this world—
"That which is of the flesh is flesh"—
So why should in it I celebrate my existence,
When "born of the Spirit" is to be my abiding place?
These are the days I'll hold so dear—
When death gives way to life—
And birthday from above becomes worth noting then,
A candle man cannot light.