In a daring and beautiful creative reversal,
God takes the worse we can do to Him
and turns it into the very best He can do for us.
~Malcolm Guite from The Word in the Wilderness
How is faith to endure, O God, when you allow all this scraping and tearing on us? You have allowed rivers of blood to flow, mountains of suffering to pile up, sobs to become humanity’s song–all without lifting a finger that we could see. You have allowed bonds of love beyond number to be painfully snapped. If you have not abandoned us, explain yourself.
Instead of explaining our suffering God shares it.
We strain to hear. But instead of hearing an answer we catch sight of God himself scraped and torn. Through our tears we see the tears of God.
~Nicholas Wolterstorff in Lament for a Son
What I envy in the open eyes
of the dead deer hanging down
from the rafters, its eyes
still wet and glassy, but locked now
into a vision of another life,
is the way it seems to be
staring at the moment when
it died. The blue light
falling through the window
into this smoke-filled room
is the same color as the mist
coming down off the mountain
that morning: the deer sees
men with guns
but also sees, beyond them,
the endless mountains.
~Richard Jones “Life After Death”
Emmett Till’s mother
speaking over the radio
She tells in a comforting voice
what it was like to touch her dead boy’s face,
how she’d lingered and traced
the broken jaw, the crushed eyes —
the face that badly beaten, disfigured —
before confirming his identity.
And then she compares his face
to the face of Jesus, dying on the cross.
This mother says, no, she’d not recognize
her Lord, for he was beaten far, far worse
than the son she loved with all her heart.
For, she said, she could still discern her son’s curved earlobe,
but the face of Christ
was beaten to death by the whole world.
~Richard Jones “The Face” from Between Midnight and Dawn
The whole of Christ’s life was a continual passion; others die martyrs, but Christ was born a martyr. He found a Golgotha, where he was crucified, even in Bethlehem, where he was born; for to his tenderness then the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy at first as the cross at last. His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas Day and his Good Friday are but the evening and the morning of one and the same day. From the creche to the cross is an inseparable line. Christmas only points forward to Good Friday and Easter. It can have no meaning apart from that, where the Son of God displayed his glory by his death.
~John Donne in the opening words of his Christmas Day sermon 1626
May we remember today – Good Friday – , of all days,
the worst that can happen became the best that can happen.
We tussle and haggle over the price of what this cost us, but realizing He paid all for us makes an impossible loss possible.
We are paid in full, no longer debtors.
From now on, we recognize His face even when He is beaten unrecognizable: the worst became the best because He loves us over all else.
This year’s Lenten theme for Barnstorming is a daily selection from songs and hymns about Christ’s profound sacrifice on our behalf.
If we remain silent about Him, the stones themselves will shout out and start to sing (Luke 19:40).
In His name, may we sing…