You Will Be with Me {A Reflection on the Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross}

HaydnsSevenLastWordsSketchesLisaScottLast week, several musicians, writers, and artists from my church gathered with our congregation on St. Patrick’s Day to share a contemplative selection of music and meditations in the tradition of Joseph Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross. It was a moving experience. My 6 year-old daughter sat on my lap after my segment, and whispered the rest of the time about the things she heard and saw. After the meditation on Jesus’ loving words to Mary and John, the string quartet began playing the sonata to match. Farah looked at the artwork on the screen, swayed to the lilt of the strings, and then whispered in my ear, “They’re still talking about Mary and John, they’re just saying it in a violin kind of way.” After the “I thirst” reading, she moved her arms and whispered in rhythm, “The strings are saying, ‘Give me water. Give me water.'” Through the old melodies and Scripture, and the fresh words and original art, we children and adults anchored ourselves in the moment and marveled at how Jesus actively loved through the worst of pain. Below, you’ll find the words and audio recording of my piece reflecting on the interaction between Jesus and the repentant criminal in Luke 23:39-43. I pray it helps you pause and consider the wow-factor of what Jesus did on the cross, how he conquered the “fight or flight” instinct and stayed present in the pain until it was finished.

 

Rabble-rouser
Hooligan
Hoodlum
I was
Waiting in the overgrowth
On the road to Jericho
Hiding, ready to pounce
Down came a man, prey in our paws
Picked clean of silver and dignity
Bandit
Mongrel
Rabid dog
I was

Creaking the gate
Sleight of hand
Snatching
I came to the sheep pen to steal, kill, destroy
Seeking to devour
A lamb sacrificed
On the altar of my appetite
Robber
Swindler
Ruffian
I was

But then running with the wrong crowd in the wrong place
I ran into all that is good and right
I found the likes of you
God with us
At the table
Of a speakeasy
Pure eyes, chaste heart
Raising a cup with the
Renegade
Thief
Rebel
I was

There is a way that leads to destruction
I have chased it down
It has chased me back
A way that goes in circles
A dog chasing its tail

There is a way that leads to destruction and
I have found it
Mangled
Bruised
Left for dead
I am

There is a way that leads to destruction
How can it be you have found it too?
Hound of heaven
Head lifted, chin up
You have caught the scent on wind
And run me down
Followed me here
Even here
Unto death

They tack a joke up over your head
King of kings
But I believe it
You could save yourself
Bypass the gore
Get right to glory
But you stay
To make a way
To be the Way
For me

You are with
With me in slashes, spikes, dread of death
You take the sting
With
With me
With me in shadows
With me
With
Your presence
Better than life

You are with me now
Let me be with you then
With you
Someday
in future glory
Giving glory
You have been with me
Let me be with you

Let me kneel
Hosanna
My branch on the ground
A glory parade
You on your warhorse
Back from battle
Enemy defeated
In the world
And in me
Someday

Raise a cup for me
Tell me
“This is my blood shed for you.”
Let me drink with you
When your kingdom comes
When your will is someday done
On earth as it is in heaven

The audacity
Miscreant
Villain
Criminal
I am
Begging
Bold before majesty
Can it be that I should gain
An interest in my Savior’s blood?

You tell me the truth
Strong words reach through pain
Insults jab from the other side
Lungs cave in
Veins burst
I beg my ears to keep on hearing
You tell me the truth

Today
Not someday
“Today you will be with me in paradise,” you say.
Today
Not someday

Today, you say
Absent from the body
Present with the Lord

Today
Gone from punishment
Into paradise

Today
From dark alleys
To everlasting morning
Today
Today
I am

And I will be
In paradise.

 

3 thoughts on “You Will Be with Me {A Reflection on the Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross}

  1. Thank you Darcy, your poem is beautiful. That whole evening must have been a deeply moving time. Sounds like your daughter has inherited that melancholy, artsy, depth.
    Have a blessed Easter–and is Gracia turning 2?

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