Contemplating the cross

I’ve been following the book Contemplating the Cross a Pilgrimage of Prayer by Tricia McCary Rhodes.

Her Last chapter – epilogue is entitled Resurrection and starts with a quote by Dorothy L. Sayers…The Disciples had seen the strong hands of God twist the crown of thorns into a crown of glory, and in hands as strong as that they knew themselves safe…They had expected a walkover, and they beheld a victory; they had expected an earthly Messiah, and they beheld the Soul of Eternity.

Each daily prayer / section of the book has a reflection, read, respond, pray.  It is an amazing book to follow through lent or use with Lent groups – it is very good at making you think about how horrific the cross was and how lucky we are.

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The Dream of Rood

Many years ago – the memory abides –
I was felled to the ground at the forest’s edge,
Severed from my roots.  Enemies seized me,
Made of me a mark of scorn for criminals to mount on;
Shoulder-high they carried me and set me on a hill.
Many foes made me fast there. Far off then I saw
The King of all mankind coming in great haste,
With courage keen, eager to climb me…
Then the young Hero – it was God almighty –
Strong and steadfast, stripped himself for battle;
He climbed up on high gallows, constant in his purpose,
Mounted it in sight of many, mankind to ransom.
Horror seized me when the Hero clasped me,
But I dared not bow or bend down to earth.
Nor falter, nor fall; firm I needs must stand.
I was raised up a Rood, a royal King I bore,
The High King of Heaven: hold firm I must.
They drove dark nails through me, the dire wounds still show,
Cruel, gaping gashes, yet I dared not give as good.
They taunted the two of us; I was wet with teeming blood,
Streaming from the warrior’s side when he sent forth his spirit.
High upon a hill helpless I suffered
Long hours of torment; I saw the Lord of hosts
Outstretched in agony; all embracing darkness
Covered with thick clouds the corpse of the World’s Ruler,
The bright day was darkened by a deep shadow,
All its colours clouded; the whole creation wept,
Keened for its King’s fall; Christ was on the Rood.
Yet warriors from afar eagerly came speeding
To where he hung alone. All this I beheld.
 

Anon., translated by Helen Gardner.

I took this from Signs of your kingdom by Michael Perham.

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village,
the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in still another village
where he worked in a carpenter’s shop
until he was thirty.
He did none of the things one usually
associates with greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He was only thirty-three when
public opinion turned against him.
He was turned over to his enemies
and crucified.
When he was dead he was laid
in a borrowed grave.
Nineteen centuries have passed and today
he is the central figure of the human race.
No one has affected the life of man on earth
as much as that one solitary life.
 

This was originally a sermon written by Dr James Allan Francis in 1926.  It has since become shorter and tweaked by various people and from an anonymous source.

Why He Came

 
Dear Reverend God,
 
Your private research commission has prepared its final report.
As chair person I must inform you that we are unanimously against your project and for the following reasons:
 
It’s dangerous for your son to become a human being:
he could be hungry, thirsty, suffer or even be killed.
But if you insist, we suggest a few changes and some delay:
 
Jesus must be born from a married woman:
nobody will believe the story of Mary and the angel.
Or he should appear on earth as an adult:
why waste all those growing up years?
Whether Jesus is a boy or a girl,
50% of the people will feel discriminated against.
The birth in the stable is ridiculous:
our commission prefers a palace.
Shepherds should be involved:
they are scorned even by the middle class.
Galilee is a remote province, little esteemed:
Jesus won’t find the right kind of apostles there.
Transportation system is too slow yet:
It’s a long walk from Nazareth to Jerusalem.
Sound systems don’t exist yet:
too few people will hear Jesus’ message.
But the most compelling reason against your plan
is that it has never been done before.
  

And God said:

Thanks to all the members of your commission.

You are very intelligent, and you have discovered very valuable reasons against my project.

But what do your hearts tell you?

Dear Reverend God,
 
You asked us for a study based on scientific facts and rational analysis.
The heart reasons were not part of our mandate.
You are the specialist about the love questions.
 

Good, said God.

I’m glad you feel like this.

Then, let’s go for it.

by Fr. Rene Fumoleau