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.
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.
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
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.
I came across this today by Bill Amend…
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
If the Devil were to write his Beatitudes, they would probably go something like this:
Blessed are those who are too tired, too busy, too distracted to spend an hour once a week with their fellow Christians in Church — they are my best workers.
Blessed are those Christians who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked — I can use them.
Blessed are the touchy, with a bit of luck they may stop going to church — they are my missionaries.
Blessed are those who are very religious but get on everyone’s nerves — they are mine forever.
Blessed are the troublemakers — they shall be called my children.
Blessed are those who have no time to pray — they are easy prey for me.
Blessed are the gossiper — for they are my secret agents.
Blessed are those critical of church leadership — for they shall inherit a place with me in my fate.
Blessed are the complainers — I’m all ears for them.
Blessed are you when you read this and think it is about other people and not yourself — I’ve got you.
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I have liked.” I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was.
This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.
A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I have betrayed.” The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird “Books I Have Read,” “Lies I Have Told,” “Comfort I have Given,” “Jokes I Have Laughed at.” Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve yelled at my brothers.” Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger”,
“Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents.” I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.
Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked “TV Shows I have watched”, I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts,” I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content.
I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.
And then I saw it.. The title bore “People I Have Shared the Gospel With.” The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.
And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him.
No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own.
He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.
Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. “No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side.
He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.” I stood up, and He led me out of the room.. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”-
Phil. 4:13 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” If you feel the same way forward it so the love of Jesus will touch their lives also. My “People I shared the gospel with” file just got bigger, how about yours?
by R. Bliss (Brian’s Essay).