Mary stood weeping outside the tomb….
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
—John 20.1, 16
Beloved, heart of my heart,
spring of my life,
it was my tomb I wept at,
And then, Love, you called my name.
You called me out of my tomb, Love.
You are risen in me,
and I in you.
The God who sweeps away all suffering, death and fear
has done this.
I who was dead am alive again.
My grave is empty, and shall forever be.
Christ is risen.
On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
Mary, mother of Jesus,
mother of sorrow,
whose heart has bowed to God
from the beginning—
“May it be for me according to your word”—
you know the grace of waiting,
the abyss between the promise
and the light, between the word
and the birth,
that even rising
is slow work.
Mary, may it be for us
according to your faith.
“Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom.”
Nails of our sin in your flesh,
shout of our blame in your ears,
thorns of our pain in your bleeding brow,
nailed to our crosses,
our cruelty your condemnation,
all we have pierced you with,
all the evil we have flogged you with—
still you love,
you who would not save yourself but us,
climbing up the cross of our utterest despair,
heaving your ruined flesh up close to us,
crawling, trembling, into our suffering—
nothing, nothing can defeat your love.
I have stolen
to be this close to you,
you who have stolen my unworthiness,
you who break into my absolute loneliness,
sovereign who treats me, a thief and a beggar,
as more worthy.
For only a morsel of that healing,
only a sip of that grace, I would die.
Your realm that endures, that conquers
all shame and fear, all realms and empires,
I seek, I trust, more than I know how.
Demolished One, still you love,
and that alone saves me.
Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom.
As they led him away,
they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene,
who was coming from the country,
and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it.
It was your pain first before it was mine.
All this life I have borne, all the shame and fear, yours.
I have only come late to your journey.
Fear of powerful men is a rope around my heart.
I enter the agony of the condemned only when forced to.
This is my torture: to assist you is to assist in your death.
You have taken on the pain of the world
as your own, even mine, before it was mine.
There is nothing that hurts that does not hurt you.
Bearing the weight, I walk with you, shoulder to shoulder,
your breath in mine, your blood. Your pain.
You thank me. You encourage. You bless. You raise me.
You bear the weight, not I. Yours the love. Yours the strength.
Burdened, I am lifted. Wounded, I am healed.
This is my treasure: to be with you in your pain is to be with you.
“Come to me, you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens,
take my yoke upon you. I will give you rest;
for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
“Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!”
Ah, lucky me.
I escape once again.
Always, I get away.
I’m not the one they pick
to be executed.
Others suffer, but not me.
Others are enslaved, trafficked,
have dumps in their neighborhoods,
get incarcerated, work for crap wages.
Others are poor and outcast;
I am protected and privileged.
Jesus, I repent of my smug security.
I repent of my reliance on scapegoats,
on “acceptable” victims,
on others suffering while I benefit.
Teach me to stay.
Teach me not to run
but to stay by your side,
to stay in solidarity,
to carry my cross.
Pilate said to him,
“Do you refuse to speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you,
and power to crucify you?”
you put yourself in my hands
like a fine, fragile vase.
I can set you down or show you,
hide you or drop you.
I can honor you or hurt you.
But I can’t be rid of you,
I have to choose.
Alas, you know
at times I will do all of these.
And still you put yourself in my hands.
Give me faith to trust your trust in me.
Give me love to choose well.
Oh Beloved, because I love you
I put myself in your hands.
“I tell you, Peter,
the cock will not crow this day,
until you have denied three times that you know me.”
so many more than three times
I have promised, and I have failed.
I have acted as if I’d never met you,
never been so loved,
never had my feet so tenderly washed.
So many more than three times I’ve gone out
and wept bitterly.
Yet even knowing that, here you go,
entrusting yourself to me once again.
As if you know I am fickle,
fearful and unreliable…
and also capable.
Your forgiveness the earth I grow in.
The key you hand me,
over and over,
until I grasp it.
Even under the crushing weight of the cross
you hand it to me
until I grasp it.
I reach out.
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,
“Teacher, order your disciples to stop.”
He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent,
the stones would shout out.”
They do shout out.
All Creation cries out in praise of Love.
All Creation defies the threats of tyrants
and the certainty of merchants,
shouts out for fragile beauty and the giving of life.
The forests cry out, the rivers cry out.
The stones do cry out,
the stones in walls separating rich from poor,
the stones carved with cruel laws,
the stones piled up ready for the next heretic,
the stones desecrated by greed-spilled oil.
(Your brother’s blood cries out to God
from the ground. The stones cry out.)
All Creation cries out
in praise of love,
in defiance of injustice,
in mourning for our violence.
Listen to the cries.
Listen to what the earth, even as we wave our palms,
Listen to the stones.
as we plunder what we treasure
and murder whom we praise.
Expect tornado-like conditions
as the moist, unstable air of our words
meets the cold, dry air of our deeds.
This coming week especially,
be prepared to take shelter.
Let the same heart be in you
that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though divine, did cling to equality with God,
but in complete self-emptying
entered a humble human life, as a slave,
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
Therefore every knee should bend and
every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord.
your deepest humility and self-emptying
is not of rank or status or even suffering, but of love;
your greatest miracle is this:
that you loved the people who are impossible to love.
My Chief, my Beloved,
here is my salvation, and my calling.
I love you and entrust myself to you.
May your heart be in me,
that with all my life
I may thank you,
I may worship you,
I may follow you.
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of God!”
And chooses so anyway.
He knows how fickle our love,
how fleeting our kindness.
We reject what we most deeply desire,
condemn what we most deeply need.
Our glory and our ruin both clamor.
Into that very wound he rides,
into the deepest divide of our souls.
On the Scorned Way—
into the scorn itself—he rides.
Into the choice between love and the way of the world,
and into our failure to choose well, he rides,
To prevail in the battle between good and evil,
between love and fear,
one must embrace them both
and enter the cleft
and still choose.
Worship the One
who embraces our beauty and our woundedness,
who forgives the failure of our worship.
Come with him on the Foolish Way,
the Way of Love,
…and fail… and be forgiven… and come again.