Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Two Poems For An Anguished Saturday

Early Morning

I think the Gospel writers
forgot some things about Saturday
in the joy of Easter Sunday.
The silent aching anger.
Maybe the men passed around a bottle
of Old Jerusalem whiskey
to dull the pain of being reminded
How close torture and sudden death
really are.
The stray bullet on the corner,
the bullied teen at the middle school,
the officer too eager to draw his gun.
One of them mumbles to himself
as he thinks of packing up and going back
to Galilee
"If they come for me in the morning,
they'll come for you in the afternoon."
While in the kitchen
the women
pack spices for anointing
and clothes to wash the body.
Trying to avoid the truth that they're going
not to an old one who has died
full of years
But to the mangled body
of one tortured to death
bloodied and broken.
A friend they had loved.
They will go
Like women have gone throughout the centuries
To prepare the body
of another crushed one.
One more day on the land of Empire.

Silent Saturday

I think I dread Saturday most of all.
That place of cold, bleak numbness
after garden
and cross.
After agonizing shuddered last breath,
body wrapped in linen
or body bag.
Laid in tomb
or coroner's wagon.
Forsaken, beyond alone.
Between Good Friday
and Easter... maybe
When God is doing
whatever God is doing
far away from where I can see
And feels no need to let me know.
When I remember
all the words and deeds I wish had been
in an effort to forget the ones I regret
While I gather my anointing spices
and my wash clothes
to take care of the body in the morning.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Hosanna, Save Us

This happened. Jesus entered Jerusalem this way. But it isn't just a one time thing. Jesus still comes in the middle of our world and our destress and we still cry out
Hosanna, Save Us

When the ordered world and it's institutions fail us
Hosanna, Save Us

When our trust in power, violence, and military might turns on us and becomes oppressive
Hosanna, Save Us

When we are trapped in behaviors that pull us away from relationship with God and each other,
Hosanna, Save Us

When the harms done to us through racism, sexism, or victimization become open wounds in our lives, destroying our trust and making us hate ourselves
Hosanna, Save Us

When society itself becomes an enslaving trap from which we are afraid we cannot escape
Hosanna, Save Us

From gun violence in our schools and on our streets that kills our children and makes targets of people of color and those who are marginalized by our society
Hosanna, Save Us

From leaders who lack courage, or who have sold out for money and power
Hosanna, Save Us

From everything that is life destroying, O God, and separates us from You
Hosanna, Save Us

No wonder they told Jesus to shut His people up. This is language that changes the world.

And it changes the world because God hears our cry. God gives God's own Self in Jesus to do what we cannot...and then invites us to be part of that redeeming work in the world.

But today, this Sunday, we point to the wounds, the sins, the oppressions we see in ourselves and in the world around us and we cry out
Hosanna, Save Us

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Poem To A Poem

O my poem, my child
Run out into the darkness
Throwing light on pain and heartbreak
Rage against the evil
That crushes the vulnerable
beneath it's feet.
Go where I cannot
Speak to hearts that I long to know
but am separated from by distance
and more.
Rebel against me
And go where I would not send you.
Go anyway
Tear through my intentions
And ride on the wings of Spirit
into the places you were meant to go.
You are not mine to possess.
Like any child, you are simply on loan
Til the time comes for you to fly.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Handling The Body

Nick and Joe
Used Joe's political clout
to claim Jesus's body.
When they took it down from the cross,
Did the Roman soldiers help?
I kind of doubt it.
Did they hear the sickening crunch
as the legs of the other two were broken
in the expedience of hastening death
before the Sabbath?
Did the nails screech
as they were pulled from wood?
The body soiled with the fluids
of torture and death.
Wrapped, transported
Laid in tomb.

How do we handle the body of Christ now?
Not the one at the table
Where the cloth is clean and white
But the one we meet on the street
Lying bleeding in the school hallway
Passed out in the alley
Sleeping under a bridge
Dragged from family for deportation
Shot by police while reaching for ID.
The ones who are where, we're told,
we meet His body now.

They came to the tomb that morning
to handle His body.
To bathe and anoint
blood crusted brokenness.
They knew, or thought they did,
what they were faced with.
The horror of grief cleaning
Tortured Love.
But the Body was gone.

Other bodies were left behind.
They belong to Him too.
They are no less the tortured, broken
grieving, hungry
Body of Christ.
It will be in the willingness to handle
These bodies
That we will see the Resurrection
and claim the New Covenant
sealed with His blood.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Snakes On A Pole (and yes I stole the title)

[Wonderments about Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:13-21]

What kind of father
when his son asks for a fish
gives him a snake?
Isn't that all they were doing?
Complaining about the food,
like a picky teenager standing at the open door of the fridge,
claiming that there's nothing to eat?

Yet this same God,
The one that Jesus tells us to pray to
with a faith that we'll be treated
like beloved children;
Keep pounding on the door, He says
Don't give up, He says,
You can trust this God, He says;
This same God
Sends snakes.
Poisonous snakes, with burning bites.

We know Jesus knows this story,
He uses it to talk about
His own crucifixion.
"Just like Moses
lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
The Son of Man
must be lifted up."

Did the Hebrews in the wilderness
"know it was a snake
when they picked it up?"
When they spoke
not just against Moses,
but also against God?
Was this a lesson aimed at a whole community
about the dangerous consequences
of walking away from covenant?

It certainly worked.
After God
had beaten them up with the serpents,
whipped them with them til many of them died,
The people begged Moses to make it stop.
And so God told Moses
to put a snake on a pole.
The way our grandfathers
hung their razor strops
where they were always a reminder
of what happens
if you piss off the old man.

No one seems to complain
that this is how God handled
His rebellious people.
Isn't this what gods do when you mess up? Beat you into submission?
The big difference here
is that God offered a way to fix it.
That was certainly new.

Maybe that's Jesus's whole point.
That this God
the One walking around
in His skin
doesn't do that anymore.
That this God
would rather suck the poison
out of the whole world
Take it into His own Self
and die
Than try to beat this creation
into submission.

But don't stop Jesus's explanation there.
Don't make it that soft and easy.
Cause Jesus went on to tell us that
We can still refuse
to step into the Light.
Continue to pick up the snakes
of injustice, disobedience, and greed.
God doesn't have to send them,
we go looking for them on our own.
We know what they are
when we elect to pick them up,
when we choose the denial of Darkness,
rather than the Light of awareness.
We can hide in the Darkness;
refuse to look at the faces
of chemical warfare in Syria,
of hunger next door.
And we will still die,
already judged for loving the Darkness.
There are still choices to be made
in the free will of being God's children.
Some of those choices can kill us.

I don't know
I still don't understand
what's going on out there in the wilderness.
Is God changing? Or are we? Or both?
What I do know is this:
From rainbows in the sky,
To snakes on a pole,
To crosses on a hill beside the road;
This time
what gets lifted up
Is different