Voices from Good Friday

Lament of Judas
Didn’t the others hear him say
I was the one, do what I must.
That was my signal to obey
all I had dreamed of on the way.

“He is our king,” the crowds had cried.
He looked at me. He named the hour.
He could have said the sovereign word
calling to arms the angel horde.

We would have raised him to the throne
with hand-made spears and angel swords;
Judas the leader in the fight –
that’s what I dreamed of on that night.

“Rabbi,” I said and kissed his cheek.
“Would you betray me with a kiss?”
Hearing his sorrow, doubts began,
tearing the guts from life and plan.

Nothing was changed by my remorse,
flinging the silver back at them.
“What is that to us?” they said,
leaving his death upon my head.

“It is accomplished!” was his cry
when all he’d done was fail and die.
So I betrayed; I dreamed a lie –
now I will die. O Jesus, why?

Peter’s Tears
No wonder that I whined and howled
like some abandoned whelp,
and thought myself beyond all hope
and him beyond all help.

I would have fought for him to death,
but, clumsy with a sword,
I chopped off someone’s ear and he
must have the ear restored.	

So who could fight for such a one
who’d set his face to die;
when death was talked of on our way
I tried to put it by.

Indeed, I did not know the man –
I did not know myself.
I wept for days until he came
and dried my tears himself.

Pilate’s Defence
I can’t say I sleep well,
but that’s a small sum
to pay for advancement.
In sleep, nightmares come.

I try not to think of 
that man and his eyes:
he courted his fate
with his cryptic replies.

It’s Herod I blame or
that council of Jews,
refusing to act
and then making me choose.

I gave him some honour;
I named him a king;
whatever you think
that was no minor thing.

Mary’s Lament
The worst of it was I knew
that such a hard death would come:
I knew from the day that he downed his tools
and left his fine craft at home.

He left me to make his way –
yet somehow I seemed to hear
the shock of a hammer blow striking nails
though no carpenter was near.

I followed him when I could –
I knew that he would not stay.
He walked to his death with a loving heart
and all I could do was pray.

I stood there beside the cross
surrendering him to death;
and all I could utter was “Help him, God!”
I shook to each anguished breath.

So hard not to hate and blame
or ask “Did he have to die?”
“O God, though he told us that he would rise,
will we ever hug and cry?”     

2 thoughts on “Voices from Good Friday

  1. These are wonderful poems and would make a fantastic Good Friday service. (besides I cannot bear hearing lack-luster reflections on the seven last words ever again!

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  2. Thanks Maren. I’m finding it a struggle not to be lack-luster in sermons when my soul doesn’t seem to want to do the rational conceptual stuff any more. I know some of the congregation need me to keep doing that, but it’s much easier to break through to something authentic and immediate in a poem I’m finding. Not surprising I guess, as I began my ministry journey leading a music group, and writing reflections on the readings in poems and songs, and hoping that might be my calling, because pursuing ordination seemed too scary! Those poems were part of a longer work written in that early time with the intention of setting it to music for an Easter event (cantata? musical?), but the music and the event never happened, although I did complete a similar project for Christmas.

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