The candle is lit. The lights are dimmed.
The service has begun.
As the melting marks our progress,
We do as we are told
Among the reading and response,
We watch the narrative unfold.
We see him set his face like flint
In the direction of his destination
We hear his silence fill the court
As he absorbs ironic accusation
The void his words have left
Are filled with darker sound
The hint of kiss, the curse of foe,
The pound of fist, the rooster crow
I eat the bread and drink the cup
And sense the sin I can't deny
And think of blood he sweat and bled,
And hear my heart shout "crucify"
The old, old story now so real
The weight of murdered son
His dying breath is on his lips
The closing song is almost done
There. Now. It is Finished.
The room is darker now,
The smell of the snuffed out candle is not pleasant.
And Hope must wait for another day.
Ched Spellman, 2009
Background:I wrote this poem about a Maundy Thursday service. Maundy Thursday is the Thursday of what is called Holy Week, which commemorates the week before Jesus died (the week before Easter). At this gathering, the church takes communion and reflects on the events leading up to the crucifixion (the last supper; his trial; crucifixion). The word "Maundy" comes from the Latin word for "command" (mandatum), from the words of Jesus in John 13:34: "A new command I give you: Love one another." The service anticipates Easter Sunday, but specifically focuses on the last hours of Jesus' life and his death.