Between Midnight and Dawn: Marred Beyond Human Likeness

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I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
~Psalm 22: 14-19

See, my servant will act wisely;
    he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him—
    his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
    and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
    and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
    and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Isaiah 52: 13-15

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When I was wounded
whether by God, the devil, or myself
—I don’t know yet which—
it was seeing the sparrows again
and clumps of clover, after three days,
that told me I hadn’t died.
When I was young,
all it took were those sparrows,
those lush little leaves,
for me to sing praises,
dedicate operas to the Lord.
But a dog who’s been beaten
is slow to go back to barking
and making a fuss over his owner
—an animal, not a person
like me who can ask:
Why do you beat me?
Which is why, despite the sparrows and the clover,
a subtle shadow still hovers over my spirit.
May whoever hurt me, forgive me.
~Adelia Prado “Divine Wrath” translated from Brazilian Portuguese by Ellen Doré Watson

*******************************

Emmet Till’s mother
speaking over the radio

She tells in a comforting voice
what it was like to touch her dead boy’s face,

how she’d lingered and traced
the broken jaw, the crushed eyes–

the face that badly beaten, disfigured—
before confirming his identity.

And then she compares his face to
the face of Jesus, dying on the cross.

This mother says no, she’d not recognize
her Lord, for he was beaten far, far worse

than the son she loved with all her heart.
For, she said, she could still discern her son’s curved earlobe,

but the face of Christ
was beaten to death by the whole world.
~Richard Jones “The Face” from Between Midnight and Dawn

******************************

In a daring and beautiful creative reversal,
God takes the worse we can do to Him
and turns it into the very best He can do for us.
~Malcolm Guite from The Word in the Wilderness

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Strangely enough~
it is the nail,
not the hammer,
that brings us together~
becoming the glue,
the safety,
the permanence of
solid foundation,
and strong supports,
or protecting roof.

The hammer is only a tool
to pound in the nail
where it binds so tightly
it can’t blend or be forgotten,
where the hole it leaves behind
is a forever reminder
of what I, as hammer, have done
and how thoroughly
I am forgiven.

 

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During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

One thought on “Between Midnight and Dawn: Marred Beyond Human Likeness

  1. Emily,
    I have no appropriate words to write that can adequately express the power and timeliness of all that you have assembled here for us. The event that we memorialize today, Good Friday, could be juxtaposed against the mass media coverage that assault us each day:
    the savage indiscriminate slaughter of innocents in every corner of our ever-shrinking world, up to and including this moment. Much of this terror and wanton destruction is committed by our nation or with its knowledge, cooperation and arms supply. It is perpetrated in our name, using our tax dollars and our ‘implied consent,’ – in an escalating race to achieve world domination and control via hegemony. This is accomplished by lies told us by our corrupt government leadership at all levels and shamefully aided by a puppet media that we once trusted to tell us the unbiased truth.

    My point:
    Human nature has not changed one iota! Too many remain morally and humanly untouched by the historical and spiritual cataclysmic event atop Golgotha over 2000 years ago.
    That was when the innocent God-man Jesus was executed as a common criminal. He had been betrayed, tortured, humiliated, crowned ‘king’ as a cynical jest using a crown of thorns embedded in His skull, splayed naked upon a tree anchored by nails. He was surrounded by a jeering cruel crowd and taunted by Roman occupation soldiers. Directly beneath the cross Jesus’ mother and other faithful followers witnessed His death. Astonishingly, among His
    final halting words as he slowly strangled to death were, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

    Can we honestly say, as a nation, as a people, as individuals, as Christians, that we still do not know what we are doing by allowing so much evil and suffering to continue unabated?

    Like

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