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Paschal Meditation (II)

It felt cold this morning. Oh, the hot sun came up as usual, but I shivered nonetheless.
Yesterday’s unnatural darkness seems to have left a pall over my soul. Or maybe—
        maybe it’s the fact he died. He hung there, and died.

I thought he wouldn’t. I expected another miracle. Call me a fool, but after all this time—
        after a hundred times of watching him do the impossible—
        I really thought somehow he’d do what he was here to do.
        What is Rome compared to the Messiah, to God’s anointed one?

But now I don’t even know what to think. Sure, he claimed to be the one we’d all expected.
Or did he? I mean, that’s certainly what I understood, with all the times he dropped hints—
        no, more than hints!—
        all the times he admitted it when we asked,
        all the times he nodded, smiling,
        all the times he let us believe he was going to deliver us.

But he just took the beatings the soldiers threw at him. And then he just hung there.
Let the Roman soldiers hurl insults and mockery and derision.
I could hardly bear to stand there, watching him die.
        Die.
Not just a trick, not some hopeful sham that would let us know he was still with us. He died.
Blood pouring out of his side,
        and water, in a foul mix I thought would make me wretch.
Instead, I just
        watched, cold, broken, all my faith shattered.

Who was he? An impostor? Demon-possessed, like the priests said, months ago?
He was my friend. But—
        he was not the Son of God.
And how can he have truly been
         my friend? How could he have led us all astray?

Was it power-hunger? The lust for fame and attention?
Was his teaching—the mighty sermons on the hillsides, the indictments of the religious fools—
        was it all just a sham in his quest for others to worship him?
But then, where did the miracles come from?

None of this even matters anymore. It’s pointless nattering in the dark.
I threw my life away for him, and he died. He gave it all away, and for what?
None of it makes sense.

My soul is cold, and empty. Tomorrow, I suppose I will try to make my way back
        to Galilee. Maybe some of the others will come with me.
What a horrible Sabbath. What a horrid end to Passover. What a
        waste.

Paschal Meditation (I)

Sun-bleached sky looks down on swollen crowd
        gathered round a spectacle of lash├ęd, tortured flesh
    Grit and blood amidst the swirling straps
        tearing sinews, hewing, rending, stripping skin from bone

Men and women hide in terror, shamed,
        wishing for the future they'd imagined—glorious
    Nothing like the horror of this day
        lost to vicious, hostile, angry, men with wicked hearts

Dusty road and twisted beam weigh down
        broken flesh of righteous, gentle man condemned by sin
    Sin his broken flesh did never taste
        sin his broken flesh now bears so sin may fully die

Searing sun undimmed by cloud or shade 
        scorches Judah's crowned, triumphant savior as he hangs
    Crowned with thorns, humanity his robe
        Sacrificial justice nails salvation to a tree

And then ended all at once with lung-torn cry
        heralded by storm of shaking earth and opened tombs
    Darkness swelling o'er the land and blotting out the light
        finished, done, concluded, temple curtain rent and torn

Something, someone died this day, and changed the world—
        for good, somehow, perhaps, our hearts would wish to say,
    But hours-long unnat'ral gloom and lifeless corpse
        our long untrammeled hopes do now restrain. 

The God of Thunder

                Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
                        ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
                Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
                        worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

Crack and rumble, flash and flicker, pat and pitter
Storm and fury, might and power, rain and midnight

                The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
                        the God of glory thunders,
                        the Lord, over many waters.
                The voice of the Lord is powerful;
                        the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

And with every flare of heavenward flame,
        the earth worships its God-king,
lightning in his fists and mercy on his brow,
        his grace a thund'ring triumph over death.

                The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
                        the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
                He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
                        and Sirion like a young wild ox.

Whose hand shelters, and whose hand slays?
        His alone: Yahweh, God of vengeance, God of peace
Who holds death, and who has death held?
        He alone: Yawheh, God who judges, God who himself judged

                The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
                The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
                        the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

We sin, we stumble, we slip in the downpour,
        Broken by every bitter folly, drenched in shame
We fall and falter, quiver like a house in the storm
        Hopeless in the dark of moonless, starless night

Yet in these earthen vessels—
        filled with all the falling sins and sorrows
We have in fragile pots a treasure—
        not gold or silver, frankincense or myrrh—
        but somehow royalty: the King himself now dwells within

                The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
                        and strips the forests bare,
                        and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

This God of glory, God of thunder,
        is also God of mercy, God of gentle sun
Not Poseidon, Zeus, or Thor, in human likeness he
        but mighty in salvation as in judgment
        and kind, forbearing, divine as they were not, could never be.

                The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
                        the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
                May the Lord give strength to his people!
                May the Lord bless his people with peace!