The Power of the Cross

Poetic reflections on this Good Friday;
In Praise of Easter

The Power of the CrossPoetic reflections on this Good Friday I’ve sung There’s Power in the Blood,”
since I was just a boy.
“Would you be free from your burden of sin?”
the gospel songwriter asked.
“There is power, power, wonder-working power
in the precious blood of the Lamb,”
 he contends.
“The life is in the blood, the Scriptures say.
So, there’s power in the blood.”

But is there power in the cross?
A scaffold symbolizing loss?
That’s what it is you know.

Loss of innocence.  
The cross was Caesar’s preferred way of punishing criminals.
Those nailed to the hardwood crossbeams
were hardened criminals.
Guilty as guilty can be.
Death row inmates.
Punishment-worthy with a capital P.
Green milers undeserving a purple heart.
Only the worst were candidates
to quench society’s blood thirsty desire.

Loss of dignity.The cross displayed an unclothed victim
in the most immodest pose possible.
Prior to being hoisted as society’s debt
(reminding the crucified and onlookers alike
that crime doesn’t pay),
they was paraded like circus animals.
Humiliated by the laughter.
Peppered by the jeers.
Flogged to within an inch of their lives
before the main attraction would
leave them ready for a yard of bones
six feet beneath the blood-soaked soil.

Loss of pride.
Those crucified were robbed of whatever self-worth
they’d held on to since they stole their first breath at birth.
Suspended between heaven and earth,
writhing in pain, these objects of shame
had no reason to be proud
for crying out loud.
And that’s exactly what they did.
Screaming’s more like it.
No ecstasy, except for the sick onlookers
for whom human torture
provided a demented sense of pleasure.

Loss of life.
Those who hung from a cross
didn’t hang around long.
Not breathing, anyway.
The cross was the final curtain.
There was no intermission.
The executioner’s mission was clear.
In this one-at play,
he knew his script by heart.
He had his lines down cold.
“Break a leg!” the prompter would call from off-stage.
An expression to encourage
the executor in his performance.
It was also a suggestion for hastening the death
of the victim on the unvarnished stake.

So, power in the cross?
Are you kidding?
The cross on which the victim cowered in pain
and convulsed uncontrollably had no power.
Could this wood be anything but a three-dimensional stage
on which the drama of justice was enacted?
It was but an inanimate object.

“Oh, I object,” a convert cries.
“That crossbeam on which Jesus died,
has fueled my faith and moved my heart.
There’s power in His cross.”

Ah yes.It is the bridge that lets us cross
a chasm far too great to span.
It is the power that achieved
God’s vast eternal plan.”

The cross achieves what nothing could,
for in that intersecting wood
what once was dead is born again
as One once living dies.

There’s power in Christ’s precious blood
and in His cross as well.
For on that bloodstained wooden stake
our souls are saved from Hell.

In Praise of Easter
The ultimate grave robber

Graveyards are a fact of life.
Just ask my father’s widowed wife.
Those granite tombstones punctuate
a lawn that’s hard to mow.

Such markers call to mind the pain
of waging war (with Death) in vain.
The landscape littered with gray stones
is lifeless, cold and dark.

But there’s an empty grave I’m told
that’s far away and very old.
A not-so-final resting place
whose vacancy inspires.

Within the earth they laid my Christ
drained of the blood that paid my price.
But mourning proved quite premature
as night gave way to day.

That empty cave’s a mystery
that fills my heart with ecstasy.
This is the bedrock of our faith
that robs Sleep of its sting.