The light inside

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One of those Sundays

Several Sundays ago at church I had "one of those Sundays."

That day at church the kids had been dismissed early, so we took communion with out the kiddos. I enjoy taking communion with the kids, and watching how interested they are in the concept and ceremony. But it also usually means that I am explaining something about what we are doing and not getting to 100% focus on what I am celebrating, and what Jesus' sacrifice means in my life.

Like I said this Sunday our kids had already been dismissed to kids worship and the nursery, so I was alone in my thoughts. As I was thinking words were scrolling across the screen, and all of the sudden it hit me. What an amazing gift we have been given. A gift that if I am honest with myself I am not sure I am ready to reciprocate. The pain, the hurt, the agony, the torture. And for what? For me? For ungrateful, snotty, rotten, self-centered me? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't do it for me.

So I read the words, and just lost it. Just couldn't control my hurt for him, and my complete shame at how far I fall short. And yet the great joy and peace that I am forgiven.

I am posting the words below, and I hope they stir something in you.

Jesus is dragging a heavy wooden beam. He is supporting one end of the beam with his shoulder while the other end bumps along the stones of the street. There are spike holes near the extremities of the beam. It has been used before.

Each stone, each step, is a Sinai.

Jesus is moving north, slowly, toward the garden gate. He is wearing his own robe again, and his tunic, though they have lost their shape, scabrous, befouled by human discharge. The sandaled feet of a centurion are walking in front of him, within his vision. Jesus is following these feet.

There is the sound of wailing behind him. He has heard such lamentation before. For Lazarus. For the daughter of Jairus. For the son of the widow in Nain.

The beam sticks between two stones. Jesus groans and drops to his knees, and the lumber hits the ground. He can not carry the crossbeam, the patibulum, to which he will be nailed. The wooden beam is placed on the back of another man. Jesus rises and walks forward. Immediately the procession lifts its voice in lamentation again.

Jesus turns, shaking his head. "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!'"

It is 9:00 in the morning. Friday.

Out through the Garden Gate they go, and yet farther north. The stone city wall runs north and south on Jesus' right-hand side. Jewish tombs are cut into the rock on his left. The road ascends a hillside, in which poles are fixed, forever ready to receive the crossbeams and bodies of criminals condemned to crucifixion. The hill allows a public viewing. It is called Golgotha.

When they reach the top, he centurion halts here and strip Jesus down to his loincloth. At the same time, another group of soldiers arrives. They bring two more men with crossbeams on their backs. All three are stretched out on the ground each on a crossbeam, each beside a pole. Jesus stares at the sky. He cannot swallow. His back is a field of fire.

His arms are stretched to the right and left as far as they will go, palms up. A cold point touches his wrist.

Jesus hears the thump of a maul on metal. The flesh separates and the spike bites hard wood. This is the will of his father.

The same happens to the other wrist. Then by pikes and Roman strength, Jesus is lifted bodily from the ground. Soldiers climb ladders behind the planted pole, hauling him up and allowing him to swing from his arms alone until the patibulum is lashed to the pole and a cross is formed. The soldiers descend. They bend knees of Jesus and drive a spike through his ankles.

Jesus is crucified.

From: The Book of God: the Bible as a Novel


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