While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Matthew 26:47-49 NRSV
I think I’m like most people these days, in that I really don’t know how to wrap my head around the words “global pandemic”. I cannot fathom either a world without the COVID-19 virus (it feels like it’s been so long) or a world with it. I just don’t really know what to do with it, except panic, and know that somehow, somewhere, God’s got this.
When I feel out of control, and I need to get my thoughts out somehow, I like to write poetry. Usually, I write within my own confines of the rules of rhythm and metre. I count the syllables, make sure the words rhyme, and feel a slight peak of joy at knowing that I was able to squeeze a certain word into those rules. I hope the whole thing still makes sense. It gives me a sense of control in a world without it.
However, this lament that I wrote one dark early morning last week, doesn’t follow those usual conventions. But neither does this virus. The following is my early Holy Week/Triduum lament. It just seems that this is what fits these times.
The Last Supper
The feet were washed
The food was served
The people were gathered
The bread was broken
The wine was poured
We were just talking
About the need for unity
We didn’t mean to betray that
We didn’t mean to betray Jesus
We didn’t mean for this to happen
We didn’t need this to happen
Most suppers aren’t the last one, but this one could be.
Most coughs aren’t life-threatening,
but this one could be.
It was just a kiss, Jesus
I don’t want to die, Jesus
I don’t want to kill, Jesus
I don’t want
Pilate Washes His Hands
What uncertain times we live in.
What an uncertain time you lived in.
People watching everything
People worrying about everything
What if this isn’t the Messiah we wanted
What if this isn’t the change we needed
What about all the other diseases to worry about
What about all the saviors we’d prayed about
There’s too many people dying, Jesus
There’s too many people killing, Jesus
There’s too many people dying
There’s too many people
We’re not supposed to be on that cross
That’s you. That’s all you.
Money is supposed to be on that cross
All our shame. All our sin.
But someone got it backward.
Pilate washes his hands daily
While Caiaphas pleads for us to stay home
Where’s God to set it right
Where’s our Messiah, if not on the cross
Where are you
What happened to the food
What happened to the friends
Where’s the parties
Where’s the friendship
We’re caught in the middle
Still very much alone
In between life and death
Certainty and uncertainty
Isolation and safety
We anxiously await the end of this Jesus
We need this to end Jesus
When will it end
When will life begin
Loving and Gracious God, we long for a respite from this global pandemic. We see the hope found in other countries returning to a semblance of life as usual. We see our own neighborhoods reeling in fear and anxiety. We remember your journey to the cross, and the pain and suffering of your death. Be with us as we long for what comes next. Guide us through this pain, hold the hands for those lamenting loss. We hold onto your hope, Loving God. Be with us now, and in your kin-dom. In your Loving and Gracious name, we pray, Amen