Three Figures

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. (Luke 23:32)

three figures floating above the ground
one with fire in his mouth
rages in desperation against existence
one begs for deliverance
in a strong moment, pleading
with the third for rescue
the last One speaks hope and peace
amidst such hopeless violence
split apart at the place of the Skull
He opens the cosmos wide
with painful grace for all
and welcomes us in

[This is the fifth in a group of original poems composed for Holy Week.]

Nothing for Him

With loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. (Luke 23:23-24)

No law can withstand human demands.
No governor forestalls foregone conclusions.
We stand amidst the crowd, shouting
For the death of our God to satisfy
Our anger. With no words for the crowd
And no words for Pilate, Jesus submits
Meekly to the grinding gears. No tears
Now from the King who is not of this world.
No harsh rebuke of a holy and awesome God.
No one leaps to His aid. No angels fall
From the skies. No one stops what has now
Been set into motion. The cold, cruel world
Reaches out for destruction, but still,
Even still, there is divine intention.
Hidden within and without from our eye,
God is working, transforming our reality.

[This is the third in a group of original poems composed for Holy Week.]

Maker Unmade

The man who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. (Luke 22:63)

The mouths made by Him
through whom all things were made –
The mouths in which the gift
of language was given to bless –
Those mouths now rage against
their Creator with cruel curses.

The hands held by Him
from the earliest moments of life –
The hands that hold, hug,
greet and build –
Those hands descend in fast fury
to deconstruct their Maker.

[This is the second in a group of six original poems composed for Holy Week.]

Unseeing in Sleep

Pray that you will not fall into temptation (Luke 22:40)

Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation (Luke 22:46b)

the disciples
unseeing and tired
eyes sagging, bodies sore, sleep surges up,
engulfs vigilance at the vital hour.

Jesus’ question, ‘Why are you sleeping?’,
sounds strange to sleepwalkers,
whose ears fail to hear the rhythmic feet
marching to the Mount of Olives
with malicious intent.

they have no answer for such questions.
it is the silence of sleepyheads
who do not think straight,
lost in limbo between dreamworlds
and real worlds.

Lord, touch us who do not see or hear,
who fail to understand temptation
in the grey light of slumberland.
Lord, awaken us from sleep
that we may rise and pray
in the dark of this new day.

[This is the first in a group of six original poems composed for Holy Week.]

Malcolm Guite, Palm Sunday

palmscross.jpg

Save us, we pray, O Lord!
    Lord, we pray, give us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

    We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light to shine upon us.
(Psalm 118:25-27)

“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!'”
(John 12:12-13).

Malcolm Guite, who is an outstanding poet and literary critic, wrote this sonnet as part of a series of poems on Holy Week. You can read more from Guite on this poem and Palm Sunday, as well as hear him read the poem, here.

Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,

The seething holy city of my heart,

The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?

Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;

They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,

And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find

The challenge, the reversal he is bringing

Changes their tune. I know what lies behind

The surface flourish that so quickly fades;

Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,

The hardness of the heart, its barricades,

And at the core, the dreadful emptiness

Of a perverted temple. Jesus  come

Break my resistance and make me your home.

||40days|| week seven: Jesus Was Accused

Even though He taught God’s truth and healed many people, Jesus was arrested. Clearly, He said some revolutionary things and acted in some startling ways – like pushing things around in the Temple – but His arrest was part of a plot concocted by religious leaders.

He was shuffled from Annas, the former high priest, to Caiphas, the current high priest, to Pilate, the Roman governor, and pushed around in between (John 18:19, 24, 28). Religious authorities tried to rein Him in. Political authorities tried to wield power over Him. Like a common criminal, the King of the nations was mistreated.

Then Read More »

||40days|| week seven: Jesus Prayed

Before His arrest, Jesus gathered with His closest followers. After teaching them, He knew what was to come and so He prayed (John 17).

He prayed that God would be glorified through Him.

He thanked His Father for the privilege of unfolding the Father’s will in showing Himself to these closest followers. He prayed that they would have the full measure of His joy. He prayed that these followers would not be removed from the troubles of this world, but that they would be protected from the evil one. He prayed that they would be sanctified as He sent them into the world.

He prayed for those who would become followers of Him through these first followers’ proclamation. He prayed for unity within His followers, just as He and the Father experienced perfect unity. He prayed that the world would believe through the unity of the followers to come. He prayed that the love of God would fill them.Read More »