Jesus’

Last Words

With poetry by Emily Dickinson

 

Introduction

 

Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.

Luke 23: 33-34

 

Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.

Luke 23: 39-43

 

Woman, here is your son!

Here is your mother!

John: 19: 26-27

 

My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?

Mark: 15: 33-34 and Matthew: 27: 46

 

I am thirsty.

John: 19: 28-29

 

It is finished.

John: 19: 30

 

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Luke 23:  44-46

 

Ashes to Easter

 

 

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –

 

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –

The Stillness in the Room

Was like the Stillness in the Air –

Between the Heaves of Storm –

 

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –

And Breaths were gathering firm

For that last Onset – when the King

Be witnessed – in the Room –

 

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away

What portion of me be

Assignable – and then it was

There interposed a Fly –

 

With Blue – uncertain stumbling –

Buzz Between the light – and me –

And then the Windows failed – and then

I could not see to see –

Emily Dickinson

 

 

John: 19: 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

 

 

Between the Heaves of Storm Jesus saw his Keepsakes – his Mother and John, his disciple.  How close they were relies on tradition.  On the great Roods of Cathedrals and Parish Churches they flank the Cross with strength and piety.  Canvasses of oils depict them in attitudes of devotion, sometimes kneeling, sometimes standing.

But near or far, devout or fearful, they were there.

Perhaps their horror placed them beyond the reach of a weakened voice.  Their timidity would have made them cautious.  The witnesses of the accusers and the Centuries from Pilate’s force had an efficient coldness that would have pressed them away, out of fear.  The time for crying had passed, Eyes having been wrung dry.  And Breaths were gathering firm / For that last onset when the inevitable would triumph on this darkened day.

Thoughts raced and were these prayers?  For this I bore the child of Promise and gave him suckle?  For this my Song took flight and his mercy is on them that fear him?  What mighty hath he put down from their seat?  And how hath he exalted the humble and meek?  In this blackened day how hath he holpened his servant Israel?  Had this been a life misspent?  A lie lived?  Left with only my son, and soon not even him?

The disciple – once hopeful and now bereft – looked up and then away.  No Kingdom this!  No throne, no crown, no majesty here. 

Only love draws them close, misunderstandings falling away and leaving only Son and Mother and Disciple.  I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away / What portion of me be / Assignable – Woman, behold thy son! Behold thy mother!

The Keepsakes of his heart now Assigned, a lens was raised so that eyes wrung dried could see.  The impotency of death to dissolve the tie of son and mother, daughter and father gave strength in the presence of threat and despair.  Abba, close and nurturing, was revealed in the midst of religion and law.  Forever a brother, a sister – imperturbable in the face of destruction – each with a bond assured in the relationship hammered out on an anvil of hope in this darkened smithy of Golgotha.

The steel of the Century’s lance and of the sword in its scabbard did not know the temper of what Jesus wrought in this place.  Lips moved, eyes glanced, hands tightened and bodies pressed as Jesus’ Assigns were made, and then there interposed a Fly.

And then the Windows failed – and then / I could not see to see –

The stewardship of redemption cared for the Womb of God from the Annunciation to the Pieta.  Mary’s openness and obedience is faithful to the beginning of this end and the end of a new beginning with Jesus in her arms, lifeless.

His purpose of reclamation now complete, her assurance of God’s continuing favour is pledged.  Nothing more need be seen, can be seen.  The spring month of Nissan has not seen such purpose since other lamb’s blood stained lintel and doorpost.  Mothers were heard to cry then too.

 

 

My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?

Mark: 15: 33-34 and Matthew: 27: 46