I Have Seen

“So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.'” – John 20:25

I told you first, Peter. I told you first.
“I have seen the Lord,” I told you,
“after you had gone away from the grave.
He’s alive, I tell you, alive.
I have seen the Lord.”

I told you first, Peter, and you… well.
I’ve seen your eyes narrow before
when things don’t make sense, or you don’t
understand. Then you made a comforting noise, but:
I had seen the Lord.

Condescension from you isn’t new, Simon Peter.
You’re polite, but you’ll always rely
on the witness of your own two eyes –
or the witness of another guy – even though
I had seen the Lord.

Did you hear me that night when I laughed?
Oh, the sight of your faces was rich!
Where was your superior eye?
Though puzzled, your eyelids spread wide!
Now we had seen the Lord.

Is it mean of me to then delight
when Thomas repeated your cant:
“I’ll believe when I see it myself
and have touched what I know I can’t.”
Even though we had seen the Lord.

Will you learn, Simon Peter, from this?
Will you learn to trust more than yourself?
Will you learn to appreciate others?
Will you learn to believe when a woman tells you:
“I have seen the Lord.”

A poem/prayer based on John 20:19-31, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year A, Second Sunday of Easter.

The image is Portrait of a Lady as Mary Magdalen by Bartolomeo Veneto (1520s) – lAF6gZfe-aeNCQ at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23590313.

I struggled a great deal to find an image of Mary Magdalene fit for this poem. There ought to be one depicting her declaration “I have seen the Lord!” to the male disciples, but I didn’t find one. She is frequently shown at the crucifixion and, of course, at the empty tomb. Most versions of “Noli me tangere” (Do not hold onto me) leave me cold. Mary has frequently been confused with other women in the Bible, partially because so many of them were named Mary (Miriam), and partially because of a strange tendency on the part of Christians to assume Jesus had few followers in his lifetime, so if two people look similar or have the same name, they must be the same. Pope Gregory I’s 591 Easter homily erroneously conflated Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, and the unnamed “sinful woman” of Luke 7. As a result, European Christians came to assume Mary Magdalene had been a prostitute and the misnomer has lingered and grown. Paintings of the “Penitent Magdalene” are… well. They’re awful. Truly awful.

Veneto’s portrait comes from the “Magdalene as Myrrhbearer” genre. The woman’s side-eye glance comes close to expressing what I imagine Mary Magdalene’s irritation with Jesus’ male disciples. Now if someone would only paint her rolling her eyes, that would be better.

Story: The Earth at Easter

April 9, 2023

Acts 10:34-43
Matthew 28:1-10

How did the world feel that first Easter morning?

I don’t mean the people of the world – most of them didn’t have any idea what was going on. The people of the Pacific islands wouldn’t hear for over 1700 years. They didn’t get the word in Japan or in China. Some people in India would hear about Jesus and his crucifixion much sooner, but they didn’t know on that first Easter morning.

They didn’t know in Africa, even as close to Jerusalem as Egypt. They didn’t know in Britain or the wide plains of Russia or in the palaces of Rome. They didn’t know in Athens. A few might just have heard the word of Jesus’ crucifixion in his home town of Nazareth – someone on a fast horse might have traveled overnight to reach there – but they wouldn’t have word of what happened Easter morning.

No, the only people who knew that Easter morning, at least as Matthew told it, were two women named Mary – it was apparently a common name in Jesus’ day – and, of course, Jesus.

But that wasn’t my question. How did the world feel that first Easter morning? This globe of ours, this Earth that God had created working with the Word of God, the Word that had taken human shape in Jesus. How did the world feel when Jesus died on Friday? How did the world feel when Jesus rose to life once more on Easter morning?

Well. That’s the story.

According to Matthew’s Gospel, the world shuddered when Jesus died, shuddered with an earthquake that shook people’s bodies and spirits, shuddered with grief and loss. And on Easter morning, the Earth felt that quickening of new life. The Earth perceived an angel descending to the rock-cut tomb where Jesus’ body lay. The Earth asked, “What is this?” as a spark of hope flared deep in its center.

The Earth shook itself again, but this time it shook to cast off the sadness and despair of the last two nights. This time it shook itself to cleanse its depths of sorrow and doubt. This time it shook to make a path for joy. This time it shook to awaken the people on its surface to something new and wondrous and holy and blessed.

Did the Earth shake all across the globe? I don’t know, to be honest. I can imagine, though, that where lava was flowing, it flowed just a little brighter, just a little faster. I can imagine that some of the mountains breathed in and became just a little taller, stretched a little bit further toward the sky. I can imagine that the ocean waves ruffled along the shores as the Earth laughed with joy.

When the angel rolled the stone away, I imagine the Earth settled beneath it just a little bit, so that the stone rolled away down a little slope that hadn’t been there before. When the women began running back to the city to tell their friends, perhaps the Earth smoothed the road so they would not trip and fall.

When Jesus met them on the road and they knelt at his feet, perhaps the Earth softened beneath them. When they ran on, after he greeted them and told them, as the angel had, to bring the good news to their friends, they didn’t trip or fall.

Beneath them, the Earth carried on with turning, with following its orbit around the sun, with moving the continents about, with cradling the oceans and raising the mountains, with turning seamounts into islands in the middle of the sea. Beneath those running women, God’s messengers and apostles that morning, the Earth smiled and laughed for joy, for its Creator and Redeemer lived, and so the Earth would be a home for life as long as time endures.

In its own way, the Earth said, “Christ is risen! Alleluia!”

by Eric Anderson

Watch the Recorded Story

In worship, I tell the story from memory. Memory sometimes give way, as today, when I substituted a completely new ending for the one I’d written.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

Story: Easter Egg Mystery

April 9, 2023

Acts 10:34-43
Matthew 28:1-10

The island creatures had heard about Easter eggs, and they could not figure it out.

“Why would you take eggs out of a perfectly good nest?” asked the ‘apapane.

“We went to such trouble building it in the first place,” said the ‘amakihi, which builds a nest that is much bigger than its eggs.

“You don’t need to build a nest at all,” said the Manu-o-Ku, which lays its egg precariously on a branch to balance there until it hatches.

“You’ve got to keep your eggs protected from the sea spray,” said the noio.

“You could always put your eggs on ledges higher up the mountain,” pointed out the koa’e kea, which was maybe a little bit of a mean thing to say to the noio.

“Or you could lay your eggs in Alaska,” said the kolea, but nobody else really wanted to think about that except for the ‘akekeke which does much the same thing.

“Why would you want to put color on them?” wondered the ‘io. “Our eggs are a nice blue when they’re new, and then they turn paler.”

“We like mottled eggs,” said the ‘akepa. “They’re harder for egg eaters to see in the nest.” Everybody looked a little puzzled at this, because the ‘akepa is bright orange and hard to hide from anything.

“We like mottled eggs, too,” said the i’iwi, and now everybody was puzzled but nobody said anything.

“I also don’t see why you’d hide the eggs,” said the pueo. “A nest in the grass is fine.”

“I prefer a tree,” said the mejiro.

“A palm tree,” said the myna.

“A beach,” said the honu, and everybody looked at her.

“Dig a hole, lay your eggs, and cover it over. That’s how to do it,” she said with assurance, and all the other turtles agreed. The birds were almost as confused about this as about Easter eggs. But that got them all to turn to… the chicken.

“What?” she asked.

“Those humans are using chicken eggs,” they told her.

“That doesn’t mean I understand what they’re doing,” she said.

They waited and they didn’t say anything.

The chicken sighed and said, “I really don’t understand what it all means, but I have seen what they do and how they feel about it. They take eggs that aren’t going to hatch – which makes no sense to me, because what good is an egg that isn’t going to hatch? – and as you’ve all noticed, they put bright colors on it. While they’re doing it, they’re smiling and laughing. They’re doing it together, so when one colors an egg, another one tells them how beautiful it is. When they’re done, they admire them together, and congratulate everyone for a job well done.”

“I guess that must feel good,” said the kolea. “What about the hiding?”

“The adults hide the eggs, and the young ones look for them. And when they do, they’ve got those big smiles again, and they’re laughing. They get excited to find the eggs they’ve colored and the ones the other keiki have colored, even if they aren’t going to hatch.”

“Oh, and they also hide and find eggs that aren’t real eggs,” the chicken said. “Those have food in them.”

Everybody nodded at this. Everybody likes to find food.

“I think the point is the joy,” said the chicken. “From beginning to end, these eggs are about joy. Coloring them, hiding them, finding them, and celebrating them. These eggs are about joy.”

They all nodded at this, too. Eggs are about joy for birds and turtles.

And, it turns out, eggs – Easter eggs – are about joy for human beings, too.

by Eric Anderson

I told this story to begin the children’s Easter Egg hunt on Sunday, April 9, 2023. Unlike stories told in worship, it was not filmed or recorded.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

A Lenten Success

I try to avoid patting myself on the back in public – but if I don’t, what is social media for?

For some years I have chosen to follow two parallel disciplines each Lent. One is a fairly straightforward decision to refrain from something during the forty-six days of the season (I include the Sundays for this). I’ve given up fast food, beer, soda, computer games, and similar kinds of things (though never coffee – never coffee). I have almost never been able to successfully repeat one of these, so I generally have to choose something new and different each year.

The second discipline, on the other hand, is to take something on. I’ve followed exercise programs and prayer cycles. Frequently I’ve done creative projects with photography or poetry. In fact, my weekly Lection Prayers are an outgrowth of one Lenten season. I simply kept going with them.

This year I set a goal I was not certain I could achieve. I decided to write a song each week of Lent.

Although my repertoire of compositions has expanded greatly over the years, the truth is that I don’t write songs all that often. I was astonished when I counted the songs I’d written in 2021 and came up with a dozen. For me, songwriting requires a good deal more time, concentration, and focus than most other writing projects. I have and do write to deadlines, but I generally prefer to follow some kind of inspiration when it comes to music. I usually am happier with the results.

To set a goal for songwriting which is half my output in the previous year – in six weeks – well. I wasn’t sure I could do it.

I did give myself some space. I did not insist that each song be composed within an assigned week. All I required was that there be six songs by the end of the season. Nor did I impose any subjects or themes on them. The songs would be what they were, and they could fit into the sacred or the secular as it came along. I also knew I’d write one anyway: I’ve made a habit for a few years now of writing something for Easter. Still. Six songs in six weeks?

Friends, I did it. And… all six have now been performed and are available on YouTube.

Wisdom, Feed Us

Premiere performance during the Community Concert of March 11, 2022.

Dream of Peace

Premiere performance during the Community Concert of March 25, 2022.

Come On, Guitar

Premiere performance as A Song from Church of the Holy Cross, March 23, 2022.

Creature of this World

Premiere performance as A Song from Church of the Holy Cross: April 6, 2022.

As We Bring Him Down

Premiere performance during Scripture and Poetry for Good Friday, April 15, 2022.

Walk, Mary, Walk

Premiere performance during What I’m Thinking #259, April 18, 2022.

Hold Still, Mary

Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. – John 20:10-11

Slow down, Mary.

You’ve made the trek three times this morn.
Once slowly, drawn reluctantly but certainly
to this one place, a garden you would water
with your tears.

Slow down, Mary.

The second trip you ran with panicked feet,
aghast with loss and injury.
What had they done with Jesus?
Death by torture – wasn’t that enough?

Slow down, Mary.

You might have beat the fisherman
in that footrace, except you’d run the race
before already, and the other one?
Who could outrun the one that Jesus loved?

Slow down, Mary.

You sought their help. You might have guessed –
I’m sure you did – that they’d no help
to give. Now, Joseph might have known,
and Nicodemus might have helped, but not these two.

Slow down, Mary.

Let them return, uncertain and afraid,
until they bring their friends together.
You: wait. Take one more look into
the empty tomb. Ignore the words of angels.

Slow down, Mary.

If his disciples cannot help, nor angels,
sweep your tear-swept eyes across the garden,
and see if there is one who says your name,
to whom you’d cling until the sunset comes.

A poem/prayer based on John 20:1-18, the Revised Common Lectionary Alternate Gospel Reading for Year C, Easter Sunday (Resurrection of the Lord). 

The image is Mary Magdalene, a digital Proundism image by Koorosh Orooj – http://profoundism.com/free_licenses.html http://profoundism.com/free_licenses_mary_magdalene.html, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=108033456. The original image has much more precise detail than the lesser resolution one displayed here.

For Easter 2021: How Could the Story End?

What I’m Thinking is a brief weekly reflection on the upcoming Scriptures – except when it becomes What I’m Singing.

How Could the Story End?

They stepped out in the morning’s shade
Bearing the spice mixture that they’d made.
How will we roll the stone away?
Is a question they don’t need to ask today.


How could the story end?
Grieving/mourning/searching for a cherished friend?
No, the story goes on past the closing page:
Jesus Christ is risen!

They found that things were not as they had been.
The stone was rolled aside and they went in.
With startled face they heard the word
That Jesus’ resurrection had occurred.


They left in fright and who could blame them
If they kept silent lest the story shame them.
But someone told and someone told and so we all know:
That Jesus Christ is risen!


A poem/prayer based on Mark 16:1-8, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Easter Sunday.


[Thomas] said to them, “Unless I… put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” – John 20:25

I don’t want to make this a condition
of belief, my Friend. I don’t want
to make this a condition
of relationship; oh, no.


While I don’t desire so to place
my finger on or in your wounds,
I crave in separation time your touch,
A hand, a breath, a deep embrace.

Just that.

So great a thing as that.

A poem/prayer based on John 20:19-31, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year A, second Sunday of Easter.

The image is The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio – http://www.christusrex.org/www2/art/images/carav10.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6804893.

Holy Week 2020: Easter Sunday

This is, perhaps, my way of emulating
your three days away, to let a silence
fall between a midday and a morn, to
wait and see if resurrection lifts the weary
bones once more, restores connections,
grants the boon of inspiration.


But truth to tell, my risen friend,
I yearn much more that you would speak
to me and all the weary world
as you addressed your friends that night
behind the fast-closed door. Come wish me peace,
dear Jesus. Come and wish us peace.

A poem/prayer based on John 20:1-18 the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year A, Easter Sunday.

Image of Christ greeting his disciples by Duccio di Buoninsegna – http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/d/duccio/buoninse/index.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3925674.

In Shadow

In shadow I approach you, Lord.
Though other times, I would embrace the light
this morning I will seek the dark
avoiding watching hostile eyes.

An alleyway for shelter, then
moon shadow of an overhanging roof.
Step slowly, lest a watcher spot
the motion of my furtive form.

I make this journey into shadow, Lord,
as you embraced the darkness not three days
ago, and gasped that it was finished
to the broken beating of my heart.

And now, one shadow still remains,
a deeper blanker blackness that
should not be there. My heartbeat
hammers in my throat to see

an open tomb.

A poem/prayer based on John 20:1-18, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Easter Sunday.

Photo of the lunar eclipse of January 31, 2018, by Eric Anderson.