[This was written in the week leading up to Good Friday this year.]

From the Cross
a drop of blood falls,
spreads out, washes over
Jerusalem, Samaria, Asia Minor
Europe, Africa, the whole world.

Arms stretched out,
the Man, the Son, cries out
“Come and bathe; wash yourselves clean.”
The blood of the Lamb: in each drop
– an ocean of forgiveness and Life.

{This is a parody of the Natalie Imbruglia song Torn, to which I was listening sometime before Good Friday 2013.]

I know of One, who lived this life
He was born, he walked around and he was crucified
They say that he was born to die

Well, he wasn’t who they thought he’d be
He came down here
Came to set helpless captives free
To reconcile God and men

There was nothing else; he had to die
The only way to justify
All separation’s gone
The Temple veil is torn

It’s a step of faith
That is why I kneel
He was mocked and shamed
Hanging naked on a cross

The Law could never change
Had no power to heal
The lamb was slain and I can see
The sinless One was torn
He took on all my sin, in my place was torn

So the only way I can respond
Open my heart to what is there
Accept forgiveness now

It’s washed upon  my soul
And now I’m his; that’s how it is
I don’t miss my old life much
There’s just so many things
I am thankful for, reborn

It’s a step of faith
That is why I kneel
He was mocked and shamed
Hanging naked on a cross

The Law could never change
Had no power to heal
The Lamb was slain and I can see
The sinless One was torn
He took on all my sin, in my place was torn, torn

There was nothing else; he had to die
The only way to justify
All separation’s gone
The Temple veil is torn

It’s a step of faith
That is why I kneel
He was mocked and shamed
Hanging naked on a cross

The Law could never change
Had no power to heal
The lamb was slain and I can see
The sinless One was torn

It’s a step of faith
That is why I kneel
He was mocked and shamed
Hanging naked on a cross
He took on all  my sin, in my place was torn, torn

NOTE: Clickable Biblical references take you to the English New International Version translation. If you want a language other than English, click on the appropriate flag at the top of the page the link takes you to.

Matth 2:4  After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are in no way least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
To read this in its context click the following link:  http://niv.scripturetext.com/matthew/2.htm

Micah 5:2  But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/micah/5.htm

Matth 27:24ff   So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged  Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/matthew/27.htm

Mark 15:15   So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged1  Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/mark/15.htm

Luke 23:23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
To read this in its context click the following link:  http://niv.scripturetext.com/luke/23.htm

John 19:6(b) Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/19.htm

Tacitus: Annales XV (A Roman historian whose writings Annals, Histories and Germania make very interesting (and demanding!) reading.)
(This translation is taken from Tacitus,: The Annals and Histories, edited by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Regius Professor of Greek, Oxford University
“Christus … suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus …”
To read more about this click the following link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

Isaiah prophesies Messiah’s death: 53:3ff
He was despised and rejected by people … we thought he was being punished,  attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,  crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well;  because of his wounds we have been healed … but the LORD caused the sin of all of us to attack him. He was treated harshly and afflicted … He was led away after an unjust trial … he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded. They intended to bury him with criminals …
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/isaiah/53.htm

Philippians 2:8  He humbled himself,  by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/philippians/2.htm

Psalm 22  My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? …       people insult me and despise me. all who see me taunt me; they mock me and shake their heads. …. “Let the LORD rescue him!  Let the LORD deliver him, for he delights in him.” My strength drains away like water; all my bones are dislocated; my heart is like wax; it melts away inside me. the roof of my mouth is as dry as a piece of pottery;  my tongue sticks to my gums. … I can count all my bones;  my enemies are gloating over me in triumph. They are dividing up my clothes among themselves; they are rolling dice for my garments.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/psalms/22.htm

John 6:15  Then Jesus, because he knew they were going to come and seize him by force to make him king, withdrew again up the mountainside alone.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/6.htm

Josephus: The Jewish War [Slavonic text]
“Many of the common people flocked after him and followed his teaching. There was a wave of excited expectation that he would enable the Jewish tribes to throw off the Roman yoke. …When they saw his ability to do whatever he wished by a word, they told him that they wanted him to enter the City [i.e. Jerusalem], destroy the Roman troops, and make himself king; but he took no notice.”

John 19:24  But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out immediately.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/19.htm

Luke 4:17ff …. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, … “because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” … Then he began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read.”
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/luke/4.htm

Luke 7:22 So [Jesus] answered them, “Go tell John what you have seen and heard: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news proclaimed to them…”
To read this in its context click the following link:  http://niv.scripturetext.com/luke/7.htm

2Corinthians 5:19 .…in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/2_corinthians/5.htm

Hebrews 4:15  For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/hebrews/4.htm

2Corinthians 5:21  God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/2_corinthians/5.htm

Matthew 27:50    Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. Just then the temple curtain [“veil”] was torn in two, from top to bottom.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/matthew/27.htm

Luke 23:44  It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 because the sun’s light failed. The temple curtain was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And after he said this he breathed his last.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/luke/23.htm

Mark 15:37 But Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last. And the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/mark/15.htm

Josephus: The Jewish War [Slavonic text]
“In the days of our pious fathers this curtain was intact, but in our own generation it was a sorry sight, for it had been suddenly rent from top to bottom at a time when by bribery they had secured the execution of the benefactor of men – the one who by his actions proved that he was no mere man.”

Hebrews 10:19  Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the fresh and living way that he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/hebrews/10.htm

Eph 2:18  It is through Christ that all of us, Jews and Gentiles, are able to come in the one Spirit into the presence of the Father.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/ephesians/2.htm

Eph 3:12  In union with Christ and through our faith in him we have the boldness to go into God’s presence with all confidence.
To read this in its context click the following link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/ephesians/3.htm

Sparrow in My Hand is parody of T’Pau’s song China in your hand (the longer, 3-verse version)
January 2012

It was a plan I had
For the man I had
Birthed at the dawn of time:
Redeem life on earth
With a second birth
By the Spirit of God-in-Man
It was a mission to save
For eternal life
Before they’re snatched away.

And I would pay the price to reconcile
Oh, walk earth and shed My blood.
New life will return through this one sacrifice.
The prophecies will be fulfilled,
Free gift of the Servant King

Don’t fly too far
Your soul’s a sparrow in My hand
Don’t fly too far
Without My help you know
That you cannot stand
And you don’t know what you might
Yet bring upon yourself,
Sparrow in My hand

The I in sin
That is born within
Takes life to a barren land
“Oh I want”
Putting man in the role of God
Autonomy is a fantasy
It’s born of a wilful mind

Don’t fly too far
Your soul’s a sparrow in My hand
Don’t fly too far
Without My help you know
That you cannot stand
And you don’t know what you might
Yet bring upon yourself,
Sparrow in My hand

[On the morning of 24 Dec 2011 I sat in the garden watching the birds. One of these birds is tiny, perhaps only 50mm long; it flits from one branch to another, and then flies back to its original branch. While I was watching it, it flew to my knee , and I clearly felt the breath of its wings, and then it flew back to its original branch. Then it flew away. This seemed to reinforce the image in the poem.
The song China in your hand (URL, in case you are not familiar with the song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtT3naOuG1A ) refers to the story of Dr Frankenstein’s creation of a humanoid monster assembled from human bits and pieces. Frankenstein is repelled by his creation. There are too many contrasts and parallels with the Creation as told in Genesis to mention them here. However the Bible tells us that God saw that His creation was good. (For the NIV Genesis text click this link: http://niv.scripturetext.com/genesis/1.htm )]

Matt 10:29
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/matthew/10.htm

John 15:4-5
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/15.htm

John 3:1-8
Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/3.htm

John 10:10
 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/10.htm

Philippians 2:6-8
[Jesus Christ] though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/philippians/2.htm

Isaiah 53: 3–
He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. …He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path. …He was led away after an unjust trial but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded. They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully. …. My servant will acquit many,  for he carried their sins.
For the full NIV text click: http://niv.scripturetext.com/isaiah/53.htm

[A parody-slightly adapted – of Ordinary Day by Dolores O’ Riordan of Cranberries fame.

For the unsure and the hurting

[C152 SV66]


This is just an ordinary day

Won’t you be my guide along the way?

Things are often different than they seem

Help me to be strong and still to stand

Be the focus of all my waking dreams

Hold me tightly with your wounded hand

 

Glorious One,

Ever be my inspiration

Glorious One

I know your love abounds

Nothing at all, nothing at all

Will ever stop your loving

Glorious One, Glorious One,

You’ll never let me down

Never let me down.

 

This is not an ordinary day

It is one that I’ve designed and made

I will be your shield and be your guide

If you cling to me I’ll help you stand

In the shelter of my wing you’ll hide

Hold on tightly to my wounded hand

 

Beautiful Child

Let me be your inspiration

Beautiful Child

You know my love abounds

Nothing at all, nothing at all

Will ever stop me loving

Beautiful Child, beautiful Child

I’ll never let you down

Never let you down.

[I heard Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven around Christmas for the first time in decades (it shows my age as well!) and I can’t say I understand it at all. But the message of Christmas, understood in its fullest sense as part of God’s plan for reconciliation, is very clear: this is God’s plan for our salvation, and apart from it there is no salvation. Heaven belongs to God and the Right of Admission is Reserved for those who want to be there on God’s terms.

(In this parody I have used the tune of the first two “movements’ only plus the finale; so you can sing along!)

C150 VS53 Christ-mas 2010]

There’s a lie the world sells, and the lie that it tells

Is you can make your own way to Heaven.

But the Bible says, “No,” and it’s God’s way you go,

Saved by faith in God’s Grace and forgiven.

 

No, no, no, no, no: you cannot climb your own stairway to Heaven

 

Save for God’s power within you cannot withstand sin;

And you cannot find your own way to His Heaven.

That’s why Jesus was born, of Godly glory was shorn,

God of God, He came down here from Heaven.

 

And I’m filled with wonder!

And I’m filled with wonder!

 

In the frailty of man He fulfilled God’s own plan

That should lead all the earth to redemption;

That He would be crucified so we could be justified

And His death should provide our salvation.

 

And I’m filled with wonder!

I’m really filled with wonder!

 

Count the cost of the Cross on which He saved all the lost:

You can never, no never repay it.

It’s by Grace undeserved that your soul is preserved

And there’s no other way into His Heaven.

 

 

If there’s a prodding of the Spirit,

Don’t ignore it;

Listen carefully to what it’s saying.

You’re faced with two paths: Salvation or destruction

It’s still your choice which one you’ll go on.

 

And you need to choose now

 

His voice is crying out: it won’t stop,

Because He loves you.

The Saviour’s calling you to join Him

My child, you have the power to choose now;

It’s your choice.

My path’s the only way to Heaven.”

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

And the Cross is the only way to Heaven.

 

 

 

[John 14:6] Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

[Eph 2: 8] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

[Php 2:6 -8] [Christ Jesus] 6 though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

[Rom 8:23-24] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

[Jesus’s sacrifice started long before Good Friday. He gave up His heavenly residenc (I don’t think many of us would leave a Bishops Court or Constantia mansion – and Heaven must be more magnificent – and go and live in a squatter camp.) He left His Father to undertake His mission on earth, and at the time when He needed it most, He felt He was cut off from the Father by the weight of our sins. And He had known all of this from  the beginning of time.

This is a parody of Roxette’s “The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye”
C144 SV 58
Good Friday 2010]

In my hour of need you met me:
I tell the world there are no regrets.
In this heart there is such gratitude:
Grace received, Grace quite undeserved.
You are Messiah Guiltless One;
Yet You came down to die.

You left your glorious throne in heaven on high
(O what precious sacrifice);
You were content to live on earth for a time
(O what precious sacrifice);
With your life in our hands, we shouted “Crucify!”
And I can’t help but wonder why
You made that precious sacrifice.

In wilful pride, we went along our own way:
You came to search and find and save.
You left your Father in heaven above:
You made the precious sacrifice

I know You are the Only One
Who could ever pay that price:
Only a Lamb so pure could satisfy
(O what precious sacrifice);
And still your Heart is hurt, time after time
(O what precious sacrifice)
When from Your Loving Face we run away and hide.
Then I can’t help but wonder why
You made that precious sacrifice.
Jesus
You made that perfect sacrifice.

Your Blood was all that could justify
(O what precious sacrifice).
For us the spear was thrust into Your side
(O what precious sacrifice).
All our guilt and sin onto Yourself were piled;
And I can’t help but wonder why
It was for me You chose to die
Jesus
You made that perfect sacrifice

O what precious sacrifice
O what precious sacrifice

Luke 19:10  The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Philp 2:6 – 8 He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death— his death on the cross.

Rom 3:24-25  But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free.  God offered him, so that by his blood he should become the means by which people’s sins are forgiven through their faith in him.

Rom 5:6 -8 For when we were still helpless, Christ died for the wicked at the time that God chose. It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might dare to die for a good person. But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!

Rom 6:23  For sin pays its wage—death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

Heb 10:9 – 12  So God does away with all the old sacrifices and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their place. Because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do, we are all purified from sin by the offering that he made of his own body once and for all. Every Jewish priest performs his services every day and offers the same sacrifices many times; but these sacrifices can never take away sins. Christ, however, offered one sacrifice for sins, an offering that is effective forever, and then he sat down at the right side of God.

Joh 1:11  He came to his own country, but his own people did not receive him. Some, however, did receive him and believed in him; so he gave them the right to become God’s children.

Isa 53:4  “But he endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne. All the while we thought that his suffering was punishment sent by God. But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received. All of us were like sheep that were lost, each of us going his own way. But the LORD made the punishment fall on him, the punishment all of us deserved.

[This is a parody of Immortality which I heard sung by Celine Dion on a Bee Gees album. Many people have been disappointed and hurt by people who have abandoned them – a husband, a father, a mother, etc. God’s love for us is an absolute; it’s undeserved; it’s unconditional: it doesn’t matter who I am, what I’ve done, what I haven’t done: He won’t say Goodbye. (Read Philip Yancey’s What’s so amazing about Grace?) Sometimes I get angry with God and it seems He goes away; usually I have to admit (very sheepishly) He’s giving me space to calm down from my tantrum. He hasn’t said Goodbye, and He’ll never say Goodbye. That’s His promise; that’s His nature; that’s my only hope.

C141 SV55  6 March 2010]

Yes, this is who I am
And yet You love me still
And I must choose to live
The life that You will give
It’s Grace that keeps me going

And I will stand for You, alone, I will,
Stand firm in my faith in the great I AM
For You’re my soul’s hope

And I will follow on your path that lies ahead
I will let myself by You be led
For you’re my soul’s hope

You won’t say goodbye
You won’t say goodbye
No matter what I have done

In Your Grace I stand
I make my journey through this desert land
You keep a firm hold on my hand
Till the end

You died and rose for me
You died to make me free
Though storms may never end
Through all You are my Friend
King of Kings
My Saviour

And You won’t say goodbye
You won’t say goodbye
No matter what I may do

And I’ll follow Your path that lies ahead
I will let myself by You be led
For You’re my soul’s hope

I’m sorry, Lord, for all the times I’ve gone astray,
Hand over my heart to Your own Way
For You give me Grace to live

In Your Grace I stand
I make my journey to the Promised Land
You keep a firm hold on my hand
Till then

You won’t say goodbye
You won’t say goodbye

No matter what I may do
It’s Your Love pulls me through

You won’t say goodbye

Hos 11:8  “How can I give you up, Israel? How can I abandon you? Could I ever destroy you as I did Admah, or treat you as I did Zeboiim? My heart will not let me do it! My love for you is too strong.