oops – forgot to post yesterday, so two offerings today. Here we are, Good Friday, remembering the darkest of days. We know the events through the bible and with hindsight. I cannot imagine how the mother of Jesus, or his friends felt at the crucifixion, not knowing what would follow.
I watched a much loved sister die over a relatively short period of time a few years ago. Sitting at her bedside, watching her lovely face grow thinner, seeing her slipping away in front of my eyes, was agonising. Yet I kept thinking about Mary, watching Jesus die before her eyes, an unimaginably more painful death with no pain relief, no nurses, and so alone.
He would have been naked, exposed, his skin gouged, his face beaten…publicly derided and humiliated. I cannot imagine watching that happen to a much loved son, to someone you loved more that yourself.
The Death Mary watched and wept as the torture proceeded not knowing that each and every savage, painful moment
drew You closer to home to the place where tears are tenderly wiped away and glory is inhaled with every breath.
Every step on the highway to death forged a path to a life that will never perish.
And when deepest blackness darkened the sky and utter bleakness stole Your soul that was the last grasp of evil’s fingers upon You.
Never again can the tentacles of death trap those in whom Your Spirit inhabits.
For we are free and more alive than we will ever know even while we die.
I will fear no evil. For the Good Shepherd is by my side.
Father forgive them, they know not what they do
The only certainty more sure than our past, present and future blind mindless murder of God
is His open arms offering free forgiveness to the killers.
Facing the unknown, when you are about to approach something difficult, be it a parting, a difficult journey, or a course of unpleasant medical treatment, is difficult. It would be much harder to face these same things, whilst knowing fully what they would entail. Which of us has not said at some time ‘if I knew this would happen, I wouldn’t come this way’.
I believe Jesus knew what lay ahead. He knew that betrayal, torment, agony and death were coming. For the person of God to ‘become sin’ – this too, lay ahead, and is a darkness beyond our understanding, yet he walked into that too, with eyes open. Jesus knew what would happen, why else would he pray, ‘If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.’
Is there anything on this earth that can console a person in such grief, facing the loss of body, soul and spirit? Perhaps only not to face it alone. Yet that was the point at which Jesus’s friends slept. Those same friends whom he had nurtured, taught and loved for 3 years. those same friends would flee, leaving him to face the terror alone.
How easily the word Forgiveness trips off my tongue. Yet as I consider the depth of the betrayal of Jesus and the agony of the cross, the grace of His quiet forgiveness strikes me anew. How quick I am to take offence if I feel slightly ignored or badly treated by people I don’t know, let alone by friends. Yet He foreknew what would happen, and did not forbid Judas to come to the last supper or turn away from the fake kiss.
Were we so shocked and traumatised that we did not believe that you meant what you said when you told us this temple will be raised just 3 days after it has been destroyed?
Were we so blind that we did not see you by our side until you broke the bread and gave it to us?
Were our minds so dull that all the prophecies meant nothing until you patiently unpacked them?
Were our hearts so cold that we did not know you walked with us until so much later?
Am I so tossed by life that your promises and life itself seem empty? Am I so blind that I do not see you in every sky, tree or insect I pass? Am I so deaf that I do not hear your voice in the wind and the word? Is my heart so cold that I do not feel you by my side?
The joyous wedding
Longed for as a child, it became yours.
Life looking good
Except the womb lay empty
And until your husband snatched away.
Seven years of almost perfect
Enough memories to tear at your heart
As now you slept alone.
And who would want a barren woman as a wife?
So what to do? And how to live?
A step madein the direction of the temple.
A life dedicated to quiet service
To cleaning and candle lighting
To prayer and worship
A friend of God
And not abandoning hope.
Seventy seven long years
Living in God’s presence
Sleeping in His temple
Speaking his words.
Childless you remainedUntil a suddenly when
The Child was here and
Placed in your arms.
As you had entrusted your life, your self to Him
So He came to You and placed himself in Your arms.
A glorious eternal moment
When God lay in your arms and looked you in the eyes.
The arms that had been empty
Love was yours. Forever.