20 Contemplations #7: Crux

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Marc Chagall, "White Crucifixion"

…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2:8)

Did He view the Cross from birth? Did crossbeams
In the stable tell Him where He’d go?
Did He see the Cross in treetops’ glow
As He flew to earth from Heaven’s beams?
Perhaps as Joseph carved at night, His dreams
Spoke to Him of timber, nails, a show
Of Roman triumph in their streets. He’d know
From birth, for He knows all. Yet did it seem
As though His life was bent to Cross? A sword
Would pierce His mother’s soul, so she was told
By Simeon, who declared that some would fall;
And as He learned to walk, to talk, to be
As humans are on earth, He knew from old
That cursed would be the man hung on a tree.

20 Contemplations #6: At Creation

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Anselm Kiefer, “Heaven on Earth (Himmel auf Erden)”

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
(John 1:3)

First birdsong and flight; new heavens groaning;
These things we cannot see. They precede
Sight, consciousness. All we know, he exceeds:
The Face behind the flame and the foaming.
Nothing made without Him: He moves across
Astronomy and microscope, photon
And planet, from star-studded sky to cross.
Is all this beyond us? Yet He is known;
Takes first steps, like Adam; like Adam, bleeds;
Descends to the stable, ascends the Tree;
Comes to His creation; it knows Him not,
Despised, rejected, a thing forgot.
No fanfare: behold the silent babe
In whom all things were made that were made.

 

Lent: The Wait, the Weight 3

Held down by denial,
oppressed by oblivion,
as torrents break we fancy them a whirlpool.
Nothing prepares for this crisis of self,
when the spirit, crying, How long, how long?
hears instead the call to crawl
into the dust and weep.

To whom have You dealt thus?
Yet no better are we who bear Your name and smirk
than those who know no different.
Beneath Your wounds, this is joy:
the outcome sure,
where cross and crown stand interwoven.
Remember us, Jesus, when You return.
We remember Your cross, and wait.

Lent: Man of Sorrows 6

And keep –
    keep me, keep watch, keep hope.
The pains that crush me are like pricks beside
Your agony, and yet
          You hold
arms out as though to gather in
more pain, more shame, and thus
           more me.
Man of sorrows,
        what a name,
        what a scheme
  that stretches out the heavens
  yet does not scorn these nails.
                                               Take
my proud sobbing, my heart’s throbbing; take
all my attempts to rise with Self.
Enfold me in Your scars and sing
      Your grace
    through endless days.

Lent: Man of Sorrows 4

Lay me down –

slow me down and lay me down

upon the Cross, in Jesus’ hands.

Slow my heart and silence all

the numb self-serving of my pleas;

stifle pride, unlock the clench

of fists deep in this fickle dust.

Lay me down, my soul;

lay down

my soul in Jesus’ hands. Their scars

have room enough for me.

 

Lent: Man of Sorrows 2

My God, my God:
head full of wounds, You cry.
My God, my God:
what rupture in the godhead
makes perfect veins now burst?
What depth of love plumbs so low
that even earth shakes at impact?

My God, my God, have mercy.
I wound my head and choose these depths;
yet, Man of Sorrows, You came down
that I might soar the heights with You.
If, dying now to self, I must
cry beside Your cross-shaped throne,
let me rejoice as well to know
what sorrows deck Your crown.

Catechism 25

Does Christ’s death mean all our sins can be forgiven?
Yes, because Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin, God graciously imputes Christ’s righteousness to us as if it were our own and will remember our sins no more.
(New City Catechism)

All?
It seems a dream
which never human mind could fathom.
No, I must repay the debt!
the striving self says in the face
of grace too grand, too reckless.

Yet all.
No helpless soul
could fiction up such headlines, nor
could guilt conceive such answer.
All: eternity before and after
sings redemption’s senseless song.

And all
the righteousness
bought on the tree, all glory, reward,
all ledgered out in our false names.
The beggar sits in fortune’s seat;
the Father sprints, arms open.