Sunday, April 5, 2015

Last Cup: Easter Night

The following prayer-poem was written for Easter 2011 and offered
at Park Place Church of God on Easter Sunday morning that year. After this good
and rich day of praise and table-ing, I offer this prayer again in
praise and thanksgiving to the God who brings us from the dead daily:

Oh astonishing God, endlessly Creator,
breaker of patterns, lover of mystery,
God who hides eggs in plain sight,
ever surprising....

You, deep, deep down in the mystery
of the darkest night of sealed and guarded rock, lit,
first, a spark, then a
flame, sudden forest fire of raging light
enough to wake the dead—O light of life,
eyes, windows of the soul,
opened and, like Bartimaeus, one blind sees.

You, deep, deep down in the dark of
sealed tomb, stagnant, fetid air, first,
stone cracks, earth stirs, then,
sudden abyss shattering quake—stone
rolls, air and light rush in
breath sucked back, returned
into the lungs on one three days dead:
new Adam.

You, life giving God, acted and one,
three days dead, "up from the grave
he arose, a mighty triumph o’er is foes..."

You, Astonishing God, on this Easter morning,
this first Sunday,
this new day dawning, this new era,
this new Eden, a world
reborn, hope reborn, despair answered, made
sure that nothing
will ever be the same again,

Crack open our self-dug tombs
roll back our self-protective stones and
let fresh air, clear light, new life
flow into our sorry hiding places

Into the deep, deep dark of our dark despair,
Into the dark, dark deep of our foolish fears,
Into the stagnant air of our self-created tombs,
Breathe, O Breath, the fresh air of your life;
Breathe, O Breath, the fresh air of your love;
Breathe, O Breath, the fresh air of your light;


Revive us again
Fill our hearts with thy love
Rekindle each soul with fire from above
Hallelujah, thine the glory
Hallelujah, amen
Hallelujah, thine the glory
Revive us again.

["Up from the Grave He Arose" by Robert Lowry;
"Revise Us Again" by William P. Mackay]

Saturday, April 4, 2015

THIRD CUP: Holy Saturday

Two reflections on this often ignored day....

Once so many generations, millennia, ago the
Angel of Death crossed the liminal divide and
how many died of the first born of a whole nation.
Death visited; an appointment, that might
have been avoided, was kept. How many died?

Later, much later, no angel this time, but armed
soldiers bearing state sponsored writ, descended
across literal space, from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.
Death visited; fear driven massacre, killing how many?
One escaped, forewarned, until

now, lowered carefully, can we say despondently,
certainly sadly, family and a few friends; he lays
across his mother’s lap as she once suckled
him, he lies beyond life. Somewhere. In a
borrowed tomb. Hastily wrapped and spiced—

conventions must be observed—the memory of
that earlier angel is still alive, and the rescue
he brought still worth remembering. Kairos:
all death joined in one death. Liminal space
created afresh and Passover now threshold,
no longer only memory,
thanks, this one time, to this one death.

+ + +++ + +

“As the waters of a lake dwindle, or as a river shrinks and runs dry,
so mortal man lies down, never to rise until the very sky splits open.
If a man dies, can he live again” (Job 14:11-2).

“You have a guard,” said [Pilate]; “go and make the grave
as secure as you can” (Matthew 27:65, emphasis mine).

One can only speculate at the soul-deep abyss
the disciples stood on the edge of, watching their
Lord and friend die—humiliating death that it was;
the reality was, “He is dead and buried.”

A dark night—a dark night of the soul.
Abandoned. Alone. Struggling with
their own perfidy, with the
Betrayal, wondering as humans do, if Judas
were the only traitor—fearful, then,
of every knock at the door behind which
they hid; "cowered" is the more appropriate word.
Apparently they didn’t even hang around to help
Joseph entomb the Body. This secret disciple
of Jesus, now more brave than the Eleven, who
goes to Pilate—he outs himself, we would say—
Let me have the Body.

Paralyzed with fear. They hide in the room
behind locked door. Probably with a password.
What did they talk of? Did they talk at all?
Perhaps sitting in corners, or at the table where,
Hours before, they ate together with him, staring,
furtive, darting glances,
recriminating looks—or did they simply stare,
deep into the darkest abyss: their souls...or into
the floor or ceiling—What now?
Did any hope linger? Were there those
fleeting, sudden flashes of light, of memory,
a heart-beating moment when a word
he spoke rose into their conscious mind—
In three days?

Friday, April 3, 2015



A poem about a cross on a certain
Day in a certain part of the world far
Removed from where the poet sits
And wonders how to write a poem
Like this. All the words that can be
Said have been said. There is no
Middle ground: either understated
Or hyperbole—but neither comes
Close to the reality of this certain cross
On a certain day in a certain part of the world
Far removed from where this poet sits.

The poet feels he should write a poem—he
Thinks a poem about what is one of the
Two or three singularly most important
Days in the history of the world; he should
Be able to write such a poem; then, he
Rabbits off about what the other events
Might be, all of which, apparently, lead
To or from this certain cross on this certain
Day—the day he sits wondering why
He is moved so far beyond adequacy
That it feels like writer’s block.

Certain cross on this certain day was
Located just outside a certain city—the
Base of that cross was set with certainty
In the grounds of a certain hill with a
Certain name. It was a certain hill
Close enough to the certain city to,
Certainly, be unavoidable. Certain
People—some, like ambulance chasers—were
Drawn there; some there with great
Purpose and others, certainly,
just doing their job;
others, casually out For a stroll
on this certain day,
just happened to see this certain cross
On which hung this certain man who,
Even in his dying, attracted attention—
Certain kinds of attention: fear, certainly;
Derision, of course; the other certain kind
Of fear—awe; a certain sense of well,
We’ve solved this problem and now we
Can get on with our business and now we
Can wash our hands and turn back to the
Certain business of empire and temple;
also, a certain sense of well, I guess that’s that—
so glad I have a fall back safety net—I go fishing.

That certain ground shook that day, rocked
The certainties of that world then and
Certainly continues to shake the rock solid
Certainties of all time and this time and
That time and this place. This poet’s heart,
certainly, shaken Beyond certainties
wondering whether it is
Even possible to write a poem about
Certainly the singularly most horrible and
Most wonderful death the world knows.