Here is the source of every sacrament,
The all-transforming presence of the Lord,
Replenishing our every element
Remaking us in his creative Word.
For here the earth herself gives bread and wine,
The air delights to bear his Spirit’s speech,
The fire dances where the candles shine,
The waters cleanse us with His gentle touch.
And here He shows the full extent of love
To us whose love is always incomplete,
In vain we search the heavens high above,
The God of love is kneeling at our feet.
Though we betray Him, though it is the night.
He meets us here and loves us into light.
Reflecting on T.S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday, as well as East Coker inspired Emily Polis Gibson to write a beautiful original Maundy Thursday poem:
On Maundy Thursday, I arrive back to the beginning, six weeks later returning to Eliot:
“the unstilled world whirled/About the centre of the silent Word.”
a day of disquiet and silence,
of Christ taking towel and water to disciples’ dirty feet,
of bread broken and fruit crushed and consumed,
of anguished prayer and the kiss of betrayal,
of stilling the sword,
of watching those He loved run off in fear
and deny they ever knew Him.
In my beginning is my end.
And now the light falls and the darkness begins.
We wait, sorrow-filled, our unstilled souls stilled
by our betrayal, our denial, our hopelessness without Him.
Trevin Wax who is one of the bloggers at The Gospel Coalition, yesterday posted a beautiful poem / reflection on Christ’s outstretched arms of love:
Here’s the beginning:
Those hands need nails to keep them in line.
Something must be done.
Those arms must never embrace again.
We saw His arm reach out when He touched the leper, in defiance of our purity laws.
We saw His hands lift the face of an adulterous woman, thwarting our execution of her just sentence.
We saw Him welcome children into His arms, as if one must become like an infant to belong to His kingdom.
We saw Him break bread and divide the fish, as if He were supplying manna from heaven.
We saw His arms beckon sinners to His table, as if by repentance one can wash away the past.
We saw His arms do nothing to stop a sinful woman from anointing Him, as if He were a treasure greater than her priceless perfume.
We saw His arms crack the whip and overturn the tables, as if He were in charge of the temple.
And then we watched Him lead the blind and the lame inside, as if God’s house were for the broken and weary.
His hands are tainted, unwashed, defiled.
His hands, just like His speeches, are always about Him. He never ceases to point to Himself.
As if He were the only way. As if He alone has truth. As if He alone gives life.
His arms are open to anyone (anyone!) who will repent, and yet He bars the door from those of us who need no repentance.
With them you walked and closely held the purse,
The cunning one so trusted, yet so cursed.
Grave countenance to cover evil plans,
Imagining the coins in your hands,
You ate the bread, then lifted up your heel
To crush the One who offered you the meal.
Yes, quickly go into the dark of night
To make your deal; betray the One True Light.
For if you change your mind, the world is lost.
No other sacrifice can pay the cost.
Go, sell the perfect Lamb to the chief priest,
Obtaining what is needed for the Feast.
As your companions thought, your deeds secured
Provision for the poor, who had endured
The terrors of the one whose path you chose.
His plans the God of Heaven to oppose
Came to fruition on the bloody cross,
While deeper plans unraveled all his power.
He won and lost it all in that same hour.
There in the presence of our greatest foe
The feast was set and blessings overflow.
by Teresa Roberts Johnson, Copyright 2013
As we continue to think of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus today, you may also enjoy these devotionals:
- From the Biola Lent Project site (March 19): The Betrayal of Friends (with a musical excerpt from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion)
- From here at Lent & Beyond: Betrayals (includes art & music)
- From the King’s English: Betrayed with a Kiss, and 30 Pieces of Silver
And here are two other poems about Judas and his betrayal:
Dr. Emily at Barnstorming has a beautiful reflection posted this evening: “Even for Us”
I’m going to post her original poem here, but you really need to go to Barnstorming and listen to the music (Lotti’s Crucifixus) she has posted as well.
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis.
Sub Pontio Pilato, passus et se pultus est.
(He was crucified even for us, under Pontius Pilate:
he suffered and was buried.)
Even for us, He rode into the city under palms and a cloud
Even for us, He wept and sorrowed
Even for us, He overturns the tables of the greedy
Even for us, He teaches and prepares
Even for us, He kneels and washes
Even for us, He breaks bread
Even for us, He sweats blood
Even for us, He receives a kiss
Even for us, He suffers
Even for us, He dies and is buried
Even for us, He rises and calls our name.
Even for us, such as we are, who we are, what we are to be,
He has come and will again.
Donkeys seem to inspire Palm Sunday poetry, of course including GK Chesterton’s well-known poem, The Donkey.
In a similar vein, Anglican poet, Teresa Roberts Johnson, who blogs at Angliverse, last year wrote a poem entitled the Witness. Here’s the first half of the poem:
One minute I was dozing in the morning sun;
Then I awoke to find my ropes had been undone.
The kindest Man that I have ever seen drew near,
And with one gentle touch He drove away my fear.
When His disciples led me to a crowded street
I bowed my back to Christ, the Mercy Seat.
So I, a donkey, bore the burden of the Lord;
Beneath my feet were palm fronds, spread there by a horde
Of selfish people who had sought to crown Him king,
And loud hosannas through the lanes began to ring. […. there’s more ….]
Go read it all, along with her notes on the background to. the poem
And don’t miss her brand new Holy Week poem posted today entitled Fourth Day.
See our compilation of Poems for Holy Week for more Palm Sunday poetry.