My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Easter Prayer

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Is it just another day, another ritual performed,

a chance to wear new clothes and serve festive meals,

a celebration to mark our days and orient ourselves in a new year?

Is it just another obligation,

a compartment to fit in all the praiseworthy things

we ought to feel,

hope to feel,

about One so distant, so long ascended?

Has the burning in our hearts been quenched by familiar practices

and institutions?

Has the finger-in-the-side-faith lost its exclamations,

replaced by programs, distractions, and holy soundtracks?

Has our communion in the garden become commonplace

rather than ablaze with revelation and intimacy?

Oh, God of the resurrection,

God of the unruly and easily sidetracked,

burn within my heart this day.

Renew this shabby faith, these tattered shreds of almost belief,

with an obsession,

a knowing,

a persistence,

and an urgency to love You,

to love the faltering, the lost.

To be the Kingdom person you suffered to make me

is my Easter prayer.

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My Book of Uncommon Prayers: My Easter Prayer

Is it just another day, another ritual performed,

a chance to wear new clothes and serve festive meals,

a celebration to mark our days and orient ourselves in a new year?

Is it just another obligation,

a compartment to fit in all the praiseworthy things

we ought to feel,

hope to feel,

about One so distant, so long ascended?

Has the burning in our hearts been quenched by familiar practices

and institutions?

Has the finger-in-the-side-faith lost its exclamations,

replaced by programs, distractions, and holy soundtracks?

Has our communion in the garden become commonplace

rather than ablaze with revelation and intimacy?

Oh, God of the resurrection,

God of the unruly and easily sidetracked,

burn within my heart this day.

Renew this shabby faith, these tattered shreds of almost belief,

with an obsession,

a knowing,

a persistence,

and an urgency to love You,

to love the faltering, the lost.

To be the Kingdom person you suffered to make me

is my Easter prayer.

I Was One

Shaken deeper than deep, hiding in the shadows from authorities and creeping fears—named and unnamed,

no light, no hopeful horizon even with the bending rays of first light.

But morning breaks the mourning in thunderous quiet within an unblocked tomb, in a soft step in the garden, and on dusty Jerusalem roads.

Fear breaks,

sin breaks,

and from the inside out a cry of liquid joy flows like a stream—He’s alive.

Just as He said, but we missed it, were blind to it—to Him.

But possibility and promise have rocked the dark kingdoms, and God’s Own has broken through, leading a parade of captives.

I was one.  Praise Him.

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The Silence of Saturday

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Do you hear the silence in the tomb—hard and lifeless—vacuous hopes of my heart buried in a borrowed grave with one who would save us?

Do you hear the silence in the streets where palms, faded and brittle, blow to the wadis by dry desert winds—blow along with our visions of an overcoming respite?

And the pain of that black moment has dissolved in my tears and loss, and we mourn for him, but probably more for ourselves—myself.

And in the weeping and the regularity of another’s day, a great silence fills and empties me of will and belief.  Behind my eyes, inside my head, the palpable quiet pushes out hope and in my hands where once we held his bread and wine, I hold despair, pressed down, dark, and bloody.

The Pain of God

Blood-red, crimson poured, bruised and slashed,

cross-crisscrossed, tissue, nerve and sinew,

Sacred threads bleeding, “Father, forgive them— ”

Thorn and nail, sin and curse,

opposing timbers track and soak rivulets, tears ruby-red,

dripping, dripping.

Heaving heavy, breaths sucked searing,

rising, falling, out of joint, lots cast, seamless prize,

a Savior’s scream, “My God, my God, why— ”

Creeping clouds, shake the thunder,

separated sun, temple veil top to bottom, human veil rent,

ripping, ripping.

Pale, drained dry,

a Spirit’s surrender: “It is finished.”