The living and the dying

A poem.

God of the living, and of the dying
What happened
    two thousand years ago
has a grip on our hearts
    and on our minds
We remember an event
    impossibly far removed from us in time

as though it were today

that the one who won us over
was tried
    by church and state
and publicly executed

It staggers belief

Can God be put to death
    by humans?

He was vulnerable from the start
    from the day he was born, his first steps
A Son of God cannot walk the earth
    without becoming a threat
        to every injustice, to the unjust
    without becoming a friend
        to losers
        and leaving the winners feeling left out

losers like us
whom he won over
    by his love, by the truth that he told
    by the way, the path that he showed
        to life – to You

We sit here all these years later
    scattered sheep gathered in
    on a Friday called Good
and re-live it:

watch him again, hear him again
    not balk, not avoid what’s coming:
capital punishment
    for the crime of being who he was
    and human

We’re keen
    to peak around the corner
        to Easter morning
without going through his Hell

And we who are human, though we know and believe
    also fear
We who wish to live, preferably forever
    do run, deny, weep
    with the rest of our world
to avoid what’s coming
    our own death
    the death of someone we love

We who feel that death itself
    is an injustice
do not willingly hear
    that it is through death
    that we find and enter into the life You give

We’re keen also
    to avoid admitting to
    the deaths we cause
the murderous thoughts, the verbal murders
    of living breathing human beings
our little executions
    of Your other sons and daughters

We pray for those, like Christ
    unjustly accused
Unlike Christ
    we beg mercy
We rely, body and soul, on Your promise
    to be with us now
    and at that hour
We are human only
Today we can only just bear
    to hear and follow his story
        through to the end
and to remember again his dying words


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