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 resurrected The first of the new birth that we too may be reborn transformed 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: Love
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-“O Sacred Head Now Wounded” attr. Bernard of Clairvaux, trs James W. Alexander
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.
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 eloquently artfully 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 humbled 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 really 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 still At the work of the Master of the penultimate pivot turning defeat into triumph loss in gain death into life - why such surprise still? 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)