four Easter meditations in a time of isolation

1. Maundy Thursday: mandatum

It is spoken
It is written
It is given
It is finished
The law of love completed

The Christ's commandment: love
The Master's mantle: humility
The Saviour's statement: sacrifice

He has spoken - 
breathed life into us
imprinted imago dei 
on our souls

He has written  -
inscribed a not so secret cipher 
the story of eternity 
deep within our hearts

He has given - 
all He could give: Himself
to sign His Name guarantor
clearing our debts
paying the price for my life

He has finished - 
Uttered the definitive word
the once and now and always verb

The first of the new birth
that we too may be reborn
returned home from our exile
reinstated to our true place
welcomed again to the embrace of the family
where we were born to belong

Once more defined 
by the purpose He designed
that we might live fully aligned

To the Saviour's statement: sacrifice
To the Master's mandate: humility
To the Christ's commandment:

So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you. For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.

John 13:34 (The Passion)

2. Good Friday: speechless

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

-“O Sacred Head Now Wounded” attr. Bernard of Clairvaux, trs James W. Alexander
How can I say it?
I could summon sounds from the four winds
from all corners of my imagination
ensnare my ideas into thoughts
my thoughts into sentences
phrases, words

I can cite the great authors
who write so much more
than me
The bards and poets and singers
whose songs go on ringing round the globe
proclaiming praise
golden glories
from age to age
chorales of Christendom
heralding the Kingdom
honouring the King

It will never be enough

Not every word of every song
and every story
piled together 
heaped up into a mountain
of emotions made explicit
to expressively elicit
from every mouth and every pen
in all the languages of angels and of men
welded into a glittering citadel
our utmost art to tell
who You are
what You've done

But I stand in silence 

For beside You
oh Majesty
it is all futility

That shining fortress of acclaim
all falls down around me in confusion
it's just another Babel
and I kneel in the rubble

Oh Jesus
my Lord and my God
have mercy on me 
a speechless sinner

for You are the only Word I need

How can I reply to You? I’ll cover my mouth with my hand, for I’ve already said too much. 

Job 40:4 (The VOICE)

3. Holy Saturday: liminal

Was it quiet?
As You waited in the dark
after Friday,
before Sunday?

Were You still and patient and peaceful,
abiding the pause
before the appointed moment?

Before the angels came to You,
rolled up their sleeves 
and got cracking on the stone shifting?

Or were You restless in some way;
for though atonement's day
had dawned 
and died
as crucified
You settled all accounts;
yet now You lay
in silent earth
all too ready for the morning,
for that holy second birth?

Or did you not 
spend much time there at all 
a trumpet call
outside the boundaries of the world
as You stormed the enemy
cast down the gates of Hell
defanged Death
ripped out the venom and the sting
of mortality
to make it but a simple passageway
between Friday
and Sunday?

Not only for Yourself
but for all who follow Your way.

Oh Lord Christ
You who waited in that liminal space
between was and will be
teach me, show me
how to live my moments between;
When it's dark and quiet,
still and confined;
When I am blind
but restless for the light,
may it be Your whisper
speaking to my spirit
that guides me on that pathway
after Friday,
toward Sunday,
ready for the dawn.

Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness, I am not overcome by fear. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted.

Psalm 23:4 (The VOICE)

4. Easter Sunday: blindside

In every adventure there comes a moment, 
a critical juncture,
where it looks bleak:
it's all over bar the shouting 
all is lost

The company teeters on the brink of defeat;
the hero falls to his knees,
sword knocked from his hand;
the onlookers gasp collectively in horror and dismay 
awaiting the coup de grace

Until at the eleventh hour something shifts:
blindside plot twist,
with a flick of the wrist the champion arises,
disarms the enemy -
Behold, miraculous victory!

But Sunday
Your eleventh hour finale
was like and yet unlike this tale;
opening with a dawn so pale
no chance of intervention, 
so it seemed to your people;
for our Hope was not only dead
but buried deep behind boulders
hostile guards 
and bleak despair 

Then Your eleventh hour 
indeed the glorious deus ex machina
that unexpected acceleration in the drama
Hope unlooked for 
He is risen!

But shouldn't we have been looking?
After all, Hope had been instructing us for years:
the script made plain, the secret ambush public knowledge;
the great plot twists of history
laid out in prophecy
for all to see
if only we'd the eyes  

And just in case we'd missed it, the Word repeated:
The Son of Man has come
not to overthrow a King, but to die as one
My time is near but do not fear - 
Wait, there's more!

We should not have been surprised
and yet we were - and are - 
so often

At the work of the Master of the penultimate pivot
turning defeat into triumph
loss in gain
death into life -
why such surprise

And yet again there is more:
for the true eleventh hour has not yet been reached;
may we truly sustain our hope this time
so we are met not with a blindside,
stunned and disbelieving
(save that one for the enemy,
and even he
should know better by now)

May we be found in a shout of welcome surprise
Christus Victor!
as in joyous recognition
we too shall rise

Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.

Luke 24:5-7 (NLT)

One thought on “yesterday, today, tomorrow and after

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