He is risen!

It has been a rainy,grey day here. Not what I think of for Easter morning…but it did not put a damper on the reality.

Christ broke the barriers. It is done. He has risen.

One last sonnet from Malcolm Guite:

Easter Dawn

He blesses every love which weeps and grieves

And now he blesses hers who stood and wept

And would not be consoled, or leave her love’s

Last touching place, but watched as low light crept

Up from the east. A sound behind her stirs

A scatter of bright birdsong through the air.

She turns, but cannot focus through her tears,

Or recognise the Gardener standing there.

She hardly hears his gentle question ‘Why,

Why are you weeping?’, or sees the play of light

That brightens as she chokes out her reply

‘They took my love away, my day is night’

And then she hears her name, she hears Love say

The Word that turns her night, and ours, to Day.


The Weight of Good Friday.

What have I done on this Good Friday?

Cleaned…working on cleaning out closets. Looked through old papers and remembered moments in our lives. Pictures of the kids as they grow. Smiles and joy and a happy life overall.

Between the cleaning, I’ve talked to the kids, checked in on FaceBook. Talked on the phone to the one I love.

This day has not stood out.

In the corners of my soul there has been this present thought throughout the day…make space.



Pay attention.

This day is not just another day. This day will culminate for me at our Good Friday service at church, and in a way I have been pushing off that thought from the corner of my soul. Waiting for the space to be made where I can be silent and I can listen. I can think about the utter astounding truth of Good Friday.

Still…what about right now, in the midst of this normal day? How do I make the room in the midst of a ‘normal’ day…a holiday even…to think about the crushing significance of the Cross. How do I put the brakes on and silence the distractions so that I can pay attention?

How can I not?

Easter is coming…and I’m filled with gratitude….but I do not want to miss this moment. The weight of the sacrifice. The weight of the cost. The weight….of the God of the Universe wrapped in flesh and breaking the barriers. Honestly, it makes me uncomfortable because it is impossible to process the reality of Good Friday without understanding the weight of our sin.

That is not something that can be done casually or just in passing. That requires our attention and our focus.

Malcolm Guite has a sonnet for each stage of the stations of the Cross. I highly recommend going by his site and reading…taking the time to let them soak in. This one has had my attention as I’ve been trying to push back the duties of the day to listen….I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts after the service tonight.

II Jesus is given his cross

He gives himself again with all his gifts

And now we give him something in return.

He gave the earth that bears, the air that lifts,

Water to cleanse and cool, fire to burn,

And from these elements he forged the iron,

From strands of life he wove the growing wood,

He made the stones that pave the roads of Zion

He saw it all and saw that it is good.

We took his iron to edge an axe’s blade,

We took the axe and laid it to the tree,

We made a cross of all that he has made,

And laid it on the one who made us free.

Now he receives again and lifts on high

The gifts he gave and we have turned awry.



Our Troubled God


Maundy Thursday.



Here is the source of every sacrament,

The all-transforming presence of the Lord,

Replenishing our every element

Remaking us in his creative Word.

For here the earth herself gives bread and wine,

The air delights to bear his Spirit’s speech,

The fire dances where the candles shine,

The waters cleanse us with His gentle touch.

And here He shows the full extent of love

To us whose love is always incomplete,

In vain we search the heavens high above,

The God of love is kneeling at our feet.

Though we betray Him, though it is the night.

He meets us here and loves us into light. 

Malcolm Guite

There is something just beyond my grasp in the picture of the last supper…that scene with all the disciples who had to be confused. Shouts of Hosanna and a crowd that seemed to embrace Jesus…but did not understand Him. He knew. The disciples had to be so perplexed. Jesus tells them that His time has come, that He is leaving them…and there had to be such a panic at that moment. What on earth did that mean?

He washes their feet.

And then there is this line…

“After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit”

When I was young I used to think that although Jesus died on the Cross, and I was sure that was painful…that He went through the whole experience with a sense of aloofness. I had this picture in my mind that He knew what He was here to do, and that He was God, so He was somehow a bit removed from the whole process.

I was wrong. He was never aloof. He was immersed in what it is to be human, and part of that immersion…incarnation…was to feel the pain of betrayal and the stress of facing an overwhelming task.

He was troubled in His Spirit.

He knew what was coming, and this verse comes just before He reveals that He will be betrayed.

The God of love is kneeling at our feet.

Though we betray Him, though it is the night.

He meets us here and loves us into light.

With full knowledge, with full understanding…He meets us here. He knows we will betray Him. He knows we are caught up in wrong motivations, in sin, in a love that is never pure…and yet. He overcomes all our barriers.

It was not done with callousness or with simply a dutiful mindset. He was troubled by the betrayal of Judas, and He showed the depth of His struggle in the Garden. He was God and He was man and He understands how difficult our struggles can be.

That is astounding to me and even after 30 years of following Him, it is still difficult to get my mind to grasp. The story is so familiar and sometimes it is easy to simply make our way through the paces and the verses and dress up for Easter…but remember that He was troubled in His Spirit. He was impacted and knows the pain of betrayal.

He is not soft, this God…not in the sense of being weak…but He is compassionate and He is loving and He is impacted by our betrayal. Still He meets us here and loves us into light. 

God is not….unapproachable

Yesterday I said that God was not soft. He is strong and He is just…and there is an awe and a fear of Him that is right and is good and is healthy.
The righteousness of God not only exposes my lack, and my need, but draws me toward Him as I become aware of who He is. True justice, true righteousness. Truth.


However, if God was only just and righteous and strong…I wonder if He would be approachable. On my FaceBook feed there was a little discussion about how we need a God who is able to deal with our shame and our condemnation. We need Him not only to deal with it, but we need to be able to face Him and to draw near to Him.


So, the God of the Bible is not soft in the sense that He is wishy-washy or inept. He is, however compassionate and filled with grace. He is approachable. 

God, in flesh, has made Himself approachable. On Easter we will celebrate the breaking of the barriers and the sacrifice paid so that we can approach God. So that we can enter His presence with boldness.


Today, in the progress through the Holy Week we recognize that moment of intimacy. That moment of approach.  This actually happened the day before Jesus entered Jerusalem…just before the shouts of Hosanna. A quiet recognition before the more fickle and loud recognition.

Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany

 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound[a] of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it[c] for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-8

God  allowed Mary to express her friendship with him in a lavish display…but he did not mock her or belittle her or turn her away in her expression. He allowed her to approach Him. Jesus, incarnate….He is not soft and He is not inept….but He is not callous and He is not unapproachable.

The barriers are broken and we may enter His presence with boldness…with timidity…with affection…with friendship.

Again, Malcolm Guite, from his Sounding the Seasons

The Anointing at Bethany


Come close with Mary, Martha , Lazarus
So close the candles stir with their soft breath
And kindle heart and soul to flame within us
Lit by these mysteries of life and death.
For beauty now begins the final movement
In quietness and intimate encounter
The alabaster jar of precious ointment
Is broken open for the world’s true lover,

The whole room richly fills to feast the senses
With all the yearning such a fragrance brings,
The heart is mourning but the spirit dances,
Here at the very centre of all things,
Here at the meeting place of love and loss
We all foresee, and see beyond the cross.