7 Last Words, Redux

7 Last Words, Redux March 30, 2018

Because for the real, the raw, and the unimaginable that this day brings… sometimes art is better than scripture. Sometimes our own lived experiences reach us where words on a page don’t quite. Our Good Friday service at Saint Andrew features music and poetic reflections on the 7 last sayings of Jesus on the cross. Here are the original works, written and shared by our members tonight. 

 Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do [Luke 23:34]

As a rule we tend to rationalize something we dare not say —
In our fragile world, with few exceptions: bullies rule the day.
We find them in boardrooms, in courtrooms and in classrooms;
As prime ministers, Senators, flight attendants and bridegrooms.

The weaker of our brothers sit vulnerable to strength.
To maintain hold of power, evil men go to great length
In their efforts to extend their tightening grasp on control;
There’s no room for compassion when domination’s the goal.

We can remain in a perpetual state of anguish and despair,
If we dwell on how conditions in life can be so unfair.
There’s a much better way to sustain our existence —
In the face of others’ cruelty, demonstrate resistance.

We exemplify kindness, through our words and our deeds,
For receiving love and mercy is what every person needs.
As Christians we’re obliged to exhibit behavior
Worthy of God’s grace received through the Savior.

Yes we’re all sinners, yet, because of Christ Jesus
We’re saved; we only need try – don’t worry, he sees us.
As we stumble along this journey we call life,
His Glory is enough to shield us from strife.

We must keep persevering, and maintain our humility,
While obstacles along our path tests our civility.
Remember Jesus prayed for his bullies, as he sacrificed for me and you:

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.   by Brian Foster

 

Today you will be with me in paradise

Night grasps at the three song birds on a hill

The bitter branches of night plucks feathery wings

Condemning them to their final branch

Slowly enveloped in a dark embrace

Night, too selfish to let them stay, too cruel to let them flee

 

The first bird’s song is long and shrill

Fighting pain with pain

 

A smothered fire

nothing but ashes

 

The next bird sings a soldier’s final cry over the motionless battlefield

You and I are guilty. But why Should innocence suffer as a criminal?”

 

At this moment, even Night flinches her freezing grip

the hill falls silent

 

At last, a quiet lullaby takes flight

The third bird sings a paradise where wings and sky are one

And with the soft melody, thunder cracks through the Night

Light strikes with conviction,

a testimony to all, no exceptions

A testimony of a place of dawning

The lullaby lingers in the air

A song of peace to places of hopelessness and sorrow.

Where our potential is as vast as the horizon

 

In an uncomfortable world without perfect solutions

We find trust in the mysteries of the songs of the night.  –by Melody Zakarian (high school sophomore)

 

Behold your son: behold your mother [John 19:26-27]

Woman, behold your son, my son, our sons
Shall I tell you how he lives?
He creates
Life

Physical, metaphorical

Rich in empires
Deep in art
He discovers new worlds
Conquers fear
He travels to the moon
He takes us to the mountaintop
He builds skyscrapers out of daydreams

And writes sonnets to last centuries

He takes his heart and sets it to a lyric and a beat

He has great power

He save lives when he chooses wisely

Woman, behold your son my son our sons
Shall I tell you how he dies?
He dies of great expectation
Of toxic masculinity
Of wars in someone else’s name
Of wars for someone else’s god
He dies tied to a fence post in a field

He dies near a border
He drowns in cold sea waters
He is shot in the street.

He is shot in his car.

He is shot in his backyard

Unarmed.

Unarmed.

Unarmed.

Dear, sweet, beloved mother. Your son.

He will be crucified.  -by Cheri Tabel

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? [Matthew 27:46]

My God My God, why have you forsaken me?

Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani

The trials of Job warns us to avoid reducing God’s Moral role to easy formulas

 

We suffer from # 10 pain we look for answers  and find only darkness

We suffer from isolation and rejection we look for answers  and find only darkness

We suffer from disasters and look for answers  and find only darkness

We worry about polution and climate change and look for answers  and find only darkness

Our children are murdered in school and we look for answers and find only darkness

My God My God why have you forsaken us

Today is Dark Friday  but Sunday is a-comin’.  -by Jim Siress

 

I thirst [John 19:28]

“I thirst!”  he cried,

For the pain inside was agonizing

And, although he knew full well the end was coming soon

It was still the end.

Couldn’t he have had a little more time?

Another opportunity to challenge the authority

Of people who did not have good in mind?

How ironic that the one who said,

“I’m living water”

should die of thirst.

Because that’s what we say, isn’t it?

“Dying of thirst”?

 

“We thirst!”  the children cry,

For safety and a chance to live our lives —

Not worried that a bullet could end them any minute.

Not to be neglected or forgotten,

not gaslighted or ignored.

To drink and not think, “Is this water clean?”

Too young to bear the mantra

That says life’s a bitch and tomorrow we die.

We thirst for the innocence we knew before —

Before the bullies, bullets, guns and war.

We thirst for knowledge, friendships, and a chance to grow,

grow up, not be put down.

We thirst for life.

 

“I thirst!”  I cry

For emptiness inside is driving me

To question what I thought I knew.

What’s it all about, Jesus?  I ask.

You’re not innocent.

I think you meant

To challenge greed and demonstrate your discontent,

To challenge cruelty and selfishness and ignorance.

To shout “wrong” in the face of abuse, harassment.

If your thirst was like mine,

You feel tired, weak and maybe a little lightheaded.

Someone should take you down from that cross

And lift you up as you show us a life within the love of…

Wait.     I think that’s my job.

Hey, Buddy, how much for that bottle of Aquafina? I’m thirsty.  —by Hal and Marti Johnson

It is finished

It is finished.

The first MRI, loud, long, anxiety-ridden.

I’m holding her hand tight, trying not to worry.

 

It is finished.  

The first surgery, necessary, expected, long.

Then the second surgery, unplanned, unnerving, critical to recovery.

A waiting room filled with loved ones getting us through.

 

It is finished.

Thirty-three agonizing days.

A radiation mask.  A blanket. Warm socks.

Watching other children like her endure.

Some walking in, some wheeled in on a gurney.  

Solemn, unsettling, unfair.

 

It is finished.

Forty-two chemo pills,

consumed with courage and quiet defiance.  

We will beat this.

We will push against worry and uncertainty.

 

It is finished.

And yet there is no end, really, just a new beginning.

Maybe a new worry or more sense of hope.

Maybe some peace of mind

or a simple understanding that nothing is certain.

With time, we learn to accept

the newness that follows an ending.  by Crysta Baier

 

Into your hands I commend my spirit  [Luke 23:46]

Into your hands, he says. Into your hands I commit.

Into your hands, I lay my spirit.

So we will lay down too.

 

Today we lay down and die a little

For the suffering that didn’t go with him.

Into his hands we lay our shame

For every child born hungry.

And every mother left holding an empty blanket.

 

Into his hands, we lay the sin

Of the burning cross, the swinging noose;

Of the barricade, the higher wall,

And the empty song of peace that hovers

On this same bitter breeze.

 

Into the hands with the holes

That might as well have been torn by bullets

From the guns of our idol worship

And the deafening sound of our silence

When money speaks louder than mercy.

 

Into those hands, streaked with mud

and tears and sweat and blood

There we lay our hollow words of atonement

And our sinful certainty that love will fail

Unless it is paid in flesh.

 

Into his hands, open to the last breath, to

all of our selfish fears; and love of comfort and safety;

Into his hands, empty in death,

we lay the fullness of our winter hearts.

Turning our eyes at the end.

 

His hands, now full of us;

bear our confession, our vain contrition.

Full of us. The weight of the weary world.

So that even with holes in his hands,

he carries us all.

 

We turn to go; the crumbs of last night’s bread

leaving a trail from his feet to back home again.

To doors that close and roofs that shelter

and floorboards that know us by name. We go.

But not unburdened.

 

The turning away has its own price to pay;

the laying down, the silence, the giving over…

It costs us.

 

We see now what it is we must carry instead,

We feel now the weight that we hold.

We see now– that into our hands

He left his spirit. Taking all of our broken pieces,

He died by our hands. And into them.

 

And so we go, but not without heaviness.

Because now we—who know his name,

We who heard those suffering words,

Who witnessed that last breath

We carry the weight of him.

 

We are that body now, broken.

Hands and feet and bleeding side.

His words catch at our throats

as we gather the crumbs

And bear him down the road.  –by Erin Wathen

Service Music:

The Man in Black, Johnny Cash

Normal Song, Mike Hadreas

Hard Times, Come Again No More, Stephen Foster

Blackbird, Lennon & McCartney

O Jerusalem, David Haas

Jesus Hanging on the Cross, Frances Teresa & Carol Browning

If It Be Your Will, Leonard Cohen

 

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