Red – an Easter poem

I wrote this poem in 2008 at our church’s Tenebrae service as I reflected on the Bible readings about what Jesus endured on the cross and what that meant for me. I hope it is a blessing to you as you reflect on these things this Easter.


 

Red was the blood

that flowed

through his veins –

flesh and bone,

God and Spirit.

 

Red was the blood

that dripped from

his head – droplets

of anguish and

anticipated agony.

 

Red was the blood

that splattered ‘cross

his back after

endless lashings.

 

Red was the blood

that trickled down

his face,

past eyes that

saw the world

and loved.

 

Red was the blood

that poured from his side,

punctuating the torment and

darkening the sky.

 

Red was the blood

that spilled from hands and feet

as, with Life’s

last breath,

they pushed and strained

for air.

 

Red was the blood

on the hands

of soldiers –

naïve at first but

beginning to see

the one who hung

dead.

 

Red is the blood

that covers me

from head to toe,

painting beauty and holiness

with strokes of white.

 

P1050410

Advertisements

When Christmas Time Sucks

My daughter has a flair for the dramatic (she gets it from her Daddy).

The other day she declared, out of nowhere, “Mummy, if we do the wrong thing then Christmas will be RUINED!”

(Actually, now that I think of it, it kind of sounds like the “be good or else” Santa propaganda that is everywhere this time of year… I jest. Kind of 😉 )

But we had a big chat about how you can’t ruin Christmas by doing the wrong thing. And in fact, when we do the wrong thing (or sin, as we call it), that just proves why we need Christmas.

I reminded her that Christmas is about God sending Jesus to become a man and take the punishment for our sins so that we can be His friends again.

dsc_0068

I think sometimes adults can feel like Christmas is ruined too. Not because we did something bad (necessarily), but because of the bad things happening around us and to us.

Christmas makes the suffering in our lives so much more apparent because it’s meant to be a joyful, happy time. And when we’re not feeling that, the contrast to how (we perceive) everyone else is feeling is quite stark.

 

I heard a great Colin song the other day, called Jesus Christ is Born. The middle verse kind of addresses Christmas disappointment for kids (I’ll include it because it’s funny), but the last verse speaks to adults. It made me think of my friends and family who are going through some really hard trials as we approach Christmas this year.

If Aunty Nance gave you new pants

A size or two too small

If that new toy they gave to Troy

Just drives you up the wall

If someone else got what you want

And what you want is gone

Just take a breath and don’t forget

That Jesus Christ is born


Jesus Christ is born

Jesus Christ is born

Hope will shine at Christmas time

Cos Jesus Christ is born

Well life and friends and family

Can somehow seem to crash

Sin and sadness creep around

And find good stuff to trash

But God sent his son Jesus

On a mighty rescue plan

A Saviour in a manger

In a shed in Bethlehem

 

Your circumstances can’t ruin Christmas because the hope of Christmas is bigger than your circumstances.

The hope of Christmas is that God made a way to save you from all the pain and suffering of this world (pain and suffering that we have all participated in creating).

The wonder of Christmas is that He chose to do this by sending His son into that same pain and suffering.

photo0554

Once you belong to Christ, there is nothing that can ruin that.

Not your husband leaving.

Not a cancer diagnosis.

Not estranged family.

Not chronic health problems.

Not Christmas morning disappointment.

Not the loss of a child.

Not starvation, or homelessness, or having your whole family killed in a brutal war.

 

 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Count it all Joy

I’ve got more joy in my life at the moment than I can count on one hand. Joy of the James 1:2-5 variety, that is:

Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Mum and Dad are going home tomorrow.

As if that wasn’t enough to make me feel like crying (it is!), there’s also the fact that Mr H is sick with a cold and an ear ache. Baby T has an infected belly button and a cold, which makes feeding him difficult. And the company that collects the garbage is striking, so now we have a bin full of rubbish and, with 2 and a half kids in nappies, our household waste is fast accumulating.

Honestly, it’s too much.

It’s too much going wrong, too much hardship, all at once to be a coincidence.

Neither is it a coincidence that James 1:5 is the passage Mum quoted to me yesterday when I asked her (semi-rhetorically), how am I going to cope when you leave?

“If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God,” she answered me.

Nor is it a coincidence that James 1:2-5 was the passage on the cards for me to memorise today.*

 

No, these trials are gifts, straight from the hands of God, sent to test and strengthen my faith. Sent to develop my character. Sent to drive me running, desperately, into the arms of the Father who loves me, again.

Some of you may read that and think it’s really messed up. You might think, why would you want to follow a God who makes you suffer so that you think you need him? Who breaks your legs and then provides the crutches?

But the truth is that I do need God. We all do.

Even when life is going so well, and things are falling into place and I start to think “Look how good this life that I’ve created is!”…even then, I still need God. Even then, he is the one who sustains and prospers me.

But the thing is, if we’re just cruising along, thinking we don’t need God (or, in all likelihood, not even thinking about God at all, really) we are actually in denial of reality. We are living a lie.

So, for God to send us trials is actually a loving, merciful thing to do. Because these trials shake up our false perception of the world and make us see the reality, that we do actually need Him.

It’s in this spirit that I am graciously receiving these trials, and counting them all as joy. Sure, I will probably shed a few tears over the next few days (and I don’t mean the happy kind).

But you can bet I will be clinging to Christ with all my limited strength, and He will be clinging to me with all His limitless strength.

And I will get through the next day and then the next, with a strengthened faith and a steadfast heart.

I am so thankful for a God who loves me enough to give me just what I need, whether trials or blessings.

 

DSC_0225

Gratuitous baby picture.

 

*I’m currently using Jami Balmet’s “A Heart Prepared” to memorise and meditate on the Bible, particularly during those late night feeds. And the wonderful thing is, she is offering it free to email subscribers at the moment! Get it here: https://youngwifesguide.com/free-scripture-memory-card-ebook-printable-cards/