Lenten Meditation: It Was As His Flesh: Ours

'The Incredulity of St.Thomas' by Caravaggio ca.1601, at the Neues Palais, Potsdam

Seven Stanzas for Easter by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

—John Updike, “Seven Stanzas At Easter,” 1964

Empty Tomb by Barbara Adams

Lenten Meditation: Sometimes it causes me to tremble…

Today was dismal with extreme winds and rain.  The sun threatened to disappear but it didn’t.  Even so, it felt like it should.  Today was that kind of day.  Not good.  Not good at all.  Sometimes it causes me to tremble…

There is nothing good about what happened that day–the rejection, the denials, the trumped up charges, the beatings, the burden of carrying a heavy weight through jeering crowds, the thorns,  the nails, the suffocation, the thirst, the despair of being forsaken.

But all this cannot defeat God.  On this day, there is courage to surrender, there is forgiveness, there is compassion, there is grace,  there is sacrifice, there is a debt paid.  The Son takes on our inquity, brings us face to face with our Father and will bring us home.

Sometimes it causes me to tremble.

Such a good, such a very Good Friday.

Lenten Meditation: Many Rooms

John 14: 1-3

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

It was meant to be reassurance: trust me, don’t be troubled, I will return.  Looking back, it is powerfully reassuring, but at the time it must have been greatly puzzling.  There would have been too much to absorb and understand in these few words.

Certainly it is reassuring there will be plenty of room as well as plenty of rooms.  We are a diverse flock–each unique from the next, yet there is room for everyone.  Despite our differences, there will be a dwelling place prepared and ready,  able to fit us all in.

And most reassuring of all–nothing is hidden from us, even if we don’t always understand what we hear and read.  “If it were not so, I would have told you.”

There is a welcome mat, an open door, a room prepared specifically for us, and we will be guided there.

No need to be troubled.  Trust me.