Holy Week 2019: Good Friday

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
– Isaiah 53:7-8a

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
– Luke 23:34

Silence, Jesus? Excuses, Jesus?
In truth, I want a louder Savior.
I want a firebrand, I want a chief.
I want a voice that echoes from the hills.

I do not want excuses.
I do not want a suffering servant
satisfied with our perverted justice,
consenting with your silence.

For heaven’s sake, shake the heavens!
For earth’s sake, rattle the earth!
For the oppressed’s sake, break the bonds!
For humanity’s sake, do something!

Don’t – don’t – make excuses.
Not for them. Not for us.
Not even – dare I say it?
Don’t make excuses for me.

I do not need excusing, Jesus.
No, I need forgiving.
Excuses will not change the world:
Repentance and forgiveness might.

Suffering Savior, keep your silence:
but do not keep your peace.
We who witness your great love
weep for your peace.

Photo by Eric Anderson

Holy Week 2019: Thursday

Mosaic of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet in Saint Mark’s Basilica, Venice

I’m sorry, guys, I’m not in the mood.
For a solemn celebration
I’ve got solemn down, for sure.
Celebration: not so much.

The liberation gained in ancient days
is wonderful. The trials, though,
of my own present day,
have just begun.

You can call me “Debbie Downer”
if you like. It’s fine.
If you knew what I know, well:
how about I share?

But when I share, you don’t believe,
as “It is I?” transforms to “Never me!”
As if it took a prophet’s insight
to unveil your fears.

Can we do this, just this, tonight?
Can I confess my love for you
and you, for once, accept it?
Can you confess your love for me?

Perhaps you can’t. At least
with cleaner feet you’ll sleep
while I am praying:
on cleaner feet you’ll run.

The image is a mosaic in Saint Mark’s Basilica, Venice, by Unknown – Web Gallery of Art, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15611336

Holy Week 2019: Wednesday

Judas in a detail from William Blake’s The Last Supper

Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” – John 13:27 NRSV

Take some bread. I’ve dipped it for you.
Take some soul. I’ve offered it to you.

Take some hope. I’ll give you all I have.
Take some wine. I’ll pour it out.

But no, you want my life.
Take my life, then. I’ve given it for you.

Do quickly what you are going to do.

The image is a detail from William Blake’s The Last Supper (1799) – The William Blake Archive, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33553430

Holy Week 2019: Tuesday

Man of Sorrows by
Władysław Skoczylas

“He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.”
– Isaiah 49:2

Ah, Jerusalem, feel my cutting words!
Ah, priests and scribes, feel my penetrating points!
Ah, you who stand for God:
I wait no longer in the shadow. I speak. I fly.

Image by Władysław Skoczylas – http://www.pinakoteka.zascianek.pl/Skoczylas/Index.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1743821

Holy Week 2019: Monday

Where the Gold Lies

I wrote this song in the fall of 2018, when a number of conversations turned to a wish for Jesus to come along and start to flip some tables. I expected it to be a rousing, even raucous anthem: but it turned to lament.

They’re changing money in the temple, Jesus.
They’re not giving full value for each coin.
They’re changing money in the temple, Jesus.
They’ve turned a house of prayer…
Into a house of thieves…


What are you going to do about it, Jesus?
The gold is piled high…
What are you going to do about it, Jesus?
Do you see where the gold… lies?

They’re piling money in the towers, Jesus.
They won’t even pay the builders their full coin.
They’re piling money in the towers, Jesus.
They’ve given all that power…
Into the hands of thieves…

Listen… to the gold lies.
Listen… to the golden lies.

We’ve exchanged our priests for tycoons, Jesus.
We’ve given our worship to the coin.
We’ve traded priests for tycoons, Jesus.
We’ve given our allegiance…
To generations of thieves…

[Final Chorus]

What are you going to do about it, Jesus?
The gold is piled high…
What are you going to do about it, Jesus?
Or the tables, where the gold… lies?

Flip the tables: the gold… flies!
Toss the tables, Jesus. Make the gold… fly!

© 2018 by Eric Anderson

Holy Week 2019: Palm Sunday

Step. Step. Step. Step.
Along the road.
Down the hill.
Across the valley.
Up the hill.

I never wished
for an interesting life.

Led away today,
carrying a man.

Step. Step. Step. Step.
Along the road.

What’s all the noise?
The cloth is nice
beneath my hooves,
though frankly I don’t care.

Step. Step. Step. Step.
Down the hill.

I could walk this route
with my eyes shut.
I nearly am today.
Who wants a palm leaf in the eye?

Step. Step. Step. Step.
Across the valley.

I can’t help notice that
among the cheering crowd
are sour faces, but
I frankly don’t much care.

Step. Step. Step. Step.
Up the hill.

It’s funny, though.
This man does not
weigh much, in truth
and yet it seems he bears
the world upon his shoulders.

Better his than mine, of course.

Step. Step. Step. Step.

I wonder – who will lead
me home again?

The image is Einzug Christi in Jerusalem (1912), by Wilhelm Morgner – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=155912.

No Palms?

“Luke! You forgot the palms!”

That’s not the shout of “preacher in a panic,” that.
Nor is it Jesus’ commentary on a new disciple who,
all eager, failed to strip the palm tree
of its fronds to deck the road for his approach.

I might imagine, though, the sad and smiling faces
of the other gospel writers who, whatever else
they may have written right or wrong, included palms
upon the road up to the city’s gate.

At least there’s clothes and cloaks to lay beneath the feet
of this strange-sought, strange-borrowed colt,
who probably could do without the noise
and would prefer the eat the absent fronds.

No, Luke, the colt does not awaken my concern,
nor do I worry that its burden misses leaf and branch.
Instead, imagination balks to think
of waving clothes, not palms, upon this Sunday morn.

Oh, yes. Imagination balks.

We’ll wave our palms, dear Luke, not clothes.
But really: how could you forget the palms?

A poem/prayer based on Luke 19:28-40 the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Sixth Sunday in Lent. In Luke’s account of Palm Sunday, he does not mention any palms.

Photo by Eric Anderson.