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. Continue reading

Through Thorny Ways

MasonJarRosesHymn{Gracia Rose turned two this week. I plan to post photos from this year’s party soon, but for now, here is a little background about her name and some recent reflections along with some pictures from the Rose Garden Party we hosted to celebrate her first birthday last year.}

stitching

My thin sweater did nothing to ward away the chill in the air. The smell of wet earth hung on the wind. I slopped my high heels through grass and mud on the way to the stadium where my littlest brother would be sliding the tassel from one side of his cap to the other, crowded in by hundreds of other robed students doing the same.

Murky water seeped into my shoes on my walk to the concrete. I wanted to grumble, but all I could think about were the waterlogged feet of a woman on the other side of the world, a woman wandering with holes in her boots and a gun to her head. She had walked that way for days, then weeks, then months. By now it had been almost a year since she and her husband were forced from a bungalow on their second honeymoon by a gang of rebels.

The woman’s name was Gracia. And I prayed for her. Continue reading

The Grow-Down Gospel

With a weathered spoon, I am chasing bubbles in the boiling oatmeal when my three-year-old stampedes down the wooden stairs, shouting out with the tree in his sights.

“Shh!” I shake my head, “Your sister’s still sleeping.”

It’s a ruckus when he’s in the room. The ancient quote is running through my brain now, Plato’s words telling me to lighten up:  “A boy is, of all wild beasts, the most difficult to manage.”

A little click and seven-hundred sparkles come on and make the place a little brighter, the bulbs on the tree teaming up with the morning sunlight that stretches down through the gray clouds into our windows.

On the shelf, painted porcelain people and barnyard animals gather around. My loud little boy fits right in with the rowdy crowd of the Bethlehem stable. He scuttles over to the unfinished nativity and reaches out to the wooden box next to it, the one with all the tiny doors hiding little Christmas secrets. Our Baby Jesus figurine waits in a cubby.

I stand with a kitchen towel in hand and wait for him to open the adjacent door where the figurine will sit for the day, another 24 hours closer to Christmas. But instead he looks at me and opens his mouth to speak.

“Jesus growed down into a baby,” he tells me as he lays eyes on the tiny form.

I marvel to hear it spoken so freshly in the words of a child and I marvel again that the Word who’s big enough to create the world and the sun that it revolves around and the planets that move with it and all that is beyond, that the grand, king-sized Word became so small that He had to use baby talk. He “growed down”. The incorrect grammar says it right. I stop a minute to savor the unedited words, keeping all these things in my heart, my son experiencing Mary’s son, the only begotten of God the Father.

Elliot slides his thumb over the swaddling clothes and adds to the sentence, “And then he growed up into a man.” It’s something to tuck away and so I grab the nearest pen to jot down his words under that December date in my journal. But he isn’t finished. He’s getting to the sad part.

“Then His heart wasn’t beating anymore,” he says.

For a while, I had wondered if Elliot were too young to know the full story yet. I had timidly read to him of the lashes, the spit, the hatred, the cross, and watched him furrow his own eyebrows at the painting of the thorny crown on Jesus’ head, the Baby King all grown up into a dying man.

Is this all that life comes down to…death? I blot my eyes with that kitchen towel. I am afraid for him to figure out that he too will die one day. And maybe I’m afraid to face it myself, forgetting to meditate on the hope that softens the sting.

Next thing I know, he speaks aloud that hope to me, so simple I can’t argue with it. “Then it was beating again,” he says. Not for pretend. Not a metaphor. His actual heart beating again. And so will ours because of Him.

“What next?” I prod him on, wondering at the words he’ll choose, this whole new person relating to his Creator.

“Then God pulled Him up to heaven with his REALLY long arms!” This boy is jumping for joy, reaching high.

I can almost feel those long arms now, God reaching down to here, calling forth His praise from the lips of a child right under my roof. The Savior, meek and mild, has lassoed my little boy with His story…and I am shushed.

Kneeling down, I put my arms around Elliot to give him a squeeze. Then, he opens the door to the new day and stows Jesus away.

We fetch little sister and all bow our heads to thank God for our pot of oatmeal and for the food trough bed where Jesus laid His head. I pray first and then Elliot interrupts. It’s his spiritual gift. “God, I know you have Jesus right now and He is coming to pick us up in a minute.”

We move the Christ child from cubby to cubby, from day to day, and wait not so patiently for Christmas when we celebrate Jesus’ first advent. And even greater, when we log another day in the history books, we’re that much closer to His second advent. We are hungering for more than this season can hold. I can tell it. We haven’t even had our breakfast and already this little one has preached me the whole Gospel.

(Luke 2:19, John 1:1-5,14, Matthew 21:16)

A memory from Christmas past shared as part of The High Calling’s Advent Writing Project at Wide Open Spaces.