Wednesday, April 25, 2012

try to be reasonable

Alouicious can't find his binder with his writing assignment in it. And he's hungry. Very very very hungry. He keeps flopping himself over on me and gazing soulfully and manipulatively into my eyes and then when I ignore him he gently whines that he is hungry and he can't find his binder.

Marigold is putting all my makeup on, singing and trying to open a bottle of perfume.Why can't she sleep past 5? Why? Why? Why?

Matt has been up for hours already working and being amazing. Except that I wish he would go get his hand looked at.

But really, the great news is that my mom and dad are arriving today, well, this evening sometime. And, of course, I'd like to have the house thoroughly perfect and have done a full day of school by the time they arrive. And I would like to have made bread and rehung the shelf in the bathroom and cut fresh flowers for their room and touched up the chipped paint in the dining room and living room and baked a large cake and been gracious and kind to my wonderful children through the whole course of the day.

But because I have created a Sisyphean impossibility in my mind, I am destined to be frustrated all day. I will flutter like a scattered and insane chicken, flitting from room to room, shouting contradictory instructions at bewildered and bemused children, "take these shoes downstairs and put them on and then bring them up and put them on the shelf!" or something stupid like that.

Matt, on the other hand, intends to do the work that is most important and let everything else fall by the wayside and so he will come to the end of the day stressed about things he has no control over, but satisfied that he did actual work.

That is the difference between men and women.
'Her question made me remember that the word 'idiot' comes from a Greek root meaning private person. Idiocy is the female defect: intent on their private lives, women follow their fate through a darkness deep as that cast by the malformed cells in the brain. It is no worse than the male defect, which is lunacy: they are so obsessed with public affairs that they see the world as by moonlight, which shows the outline of every object but not the details indicative of their nature.'--Rebecca West, 'Prologue', Black Lamb and Grey Falcon

And now, to start the day out properly, I will get up and make breakfast and then sit around in my slippers till 10 when I realize the time, panic and assume the chicken routine.

Have a lovely Wednesday!

Monday, April 23, 2012

weekend in review

Phew. What a weekend.
Matt talked to the Mormons on Saturday evening. I desperately cleaned the house and put laundry away. Yesterday Matt got up at 4 and I got up at 5 and we both worked solidly through until 9:30 when we fell asleep with all the lights and computers on.

All of that to say that these two cats lying here sleeping as if they had been working hard at whatever it is they do all day and night are really irritating. Really really really irritating.

Also, I realized that all the extra tv watched during Holy Week and "Easter Break" has made my children more stupid. Measurably so.

So much more stupid that we're actually going to do some school on a Monday (I know!). Desperate measures are called for in these critical times.

In the midst of all the busyness, however, I did happen to engage in the following remarkable conversation and write it down.

Romulus: Did you know that the person in my tummy is making a fire? Whenever I eat noodles, he makes a fire.
Me: What kind of person is it?
Romulus: A cooker.
Gladys: Yeah, his name is Daniel.
Romulus: Sometimes he is mean to me.
Gladys: The person in my tummy is named Daniel too.
Matt (to me): At least neither of them are alone.
Gladys: My Daniel is funny and evil at the same time.

Multiple personality disorder? Digestion/Tummy issues? Really amazing imaginations? I don't know. And now its time to do some more work.

Friday, April 20, 2012

7 quick takes--I've been very busy but I've still got a lot to do

Marigold was up all night again, not throwing up, but chatting and wandering around looking for milk and stuff. I am lying here with an abysmal and mind blowing headache listening to her do something in the kitchen. Unloading the dishwasher? Eating a loaf of bread? I'm not sure. Time for the 'God has a special plan for her that none of us even care about' pep talk again.
While on this little 'vacation' of the last two weeks I finished organizing my school room. I had, as it were, begun organizing it last September before school started, but when my start day rolled around I threw my proverbial hands into the proverbial air and said 'Whatever' and started school. Now, eight months later, everything finally has a place and is in it.
And I got all my seeds into pots so in a few weeks I can go take up a plot in the community garden. Share a plot, actually. Have potted tomatoes, beans of various kinds, asparagus, lettuce, swiss chard, zucchini, and a bunch of other stuff. I put all my little pots on a tray and as I move them around trying to keep them safe, the babies follow and rearrange the little tags and take dirt out of one and put it in another. Doesn't really matter since I don't know what I'm doing anyway.
Also got the girls out of their room into the boys'. Elphine elected to sleep in the little cupboard in the wall. She's been in there two nights and I keep waiting for her to decide that it's horribly uncomfortable and ask for the mattress I have standing by. Romulus and Gladys each have half of his bed and shouted at each other all the first night, angrily from what I hear, but conked out last night and slept through. Elphine was Very Weepy during all the moving. I spent four whole hours helping her decide where to hang her aprons and bonnet, how she would play 'old fashioned', finding her a chair for the low shelf desk and on and on. Yesterday we started A Series of Unfortunate Events and she cheered considerably when she realized how good she actually has it.
And so today we're going to start back to school. We're going to do art and poetry and music this morning and read some books, just to show ourselves that we like the whole enterprise and will be delighted to pick it up with renewed vigor and enthusiasm next week (hardy har har).
And I'm also going to make lemon curd and pie crust because there's a tea at church on Sunday. I don't actually remember volunteering to make these little tarts. I have a vague impression that someone volunteered me (Stephanie!). Hmmm.
And I've GOT to finish rereading Religious Potential of the Child. It really is as good as I thought when I first read it ten years ago. So many good reminders for my next batch of little ones.

Have a great weekend and go check out Jen who wrote some very interesting things this week!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

here's what's wrong with you

The interwebs are jangling and flapping with the latest Anglican trauma and many interesting people are saying many interesting things on all the threads at Stand Firm. I happened to read the sermon Matt linked in the comments and I was irritated again by something that's been increasingly irritating me over the past year.

I finally put words around it a few months ago as Matt read the transcripts of CJ Mahaney's endless accountability moments (this isn't the link I wanted but it will have to do) with his leadership team, wherein we all learned that he, horrors, is a sinner and, horrors, one of his sins is pride, and, horrors, he was not sufficiently and in a timely manner aware of his sin nor in a position to do anything about it. 

Now, CJ Mahaney is really Christian, and so are all the people trying to take care of him, way way more Christian than I am AND all of them want everyone, everywhere, to grow up in Christ and become mature--a worthy and necessary goal. However, and its a big big big however, I think they fall prey to a peculiar selfishness, rampant all over American Evangelicalism, whereby one person gets to 'speak into' and 'stand over' and 'look into' another person's life in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, judge him or fix her according to the 'discipler's' own specifications.

All this seems to me unacceptably human centered. Certainly I can look at the way people are behaving, even my own children, and see that they ought to do things differently and that they are on the road to insanity or perdition. In fact, with my children, it is my duty to get them to stop doing whatever is wrong and harmful. But when I try to look past the behavior and sort out the heart, myself, I am encroaching on territory that is not my own, it is God's. I do not understand my own heart most of the time, I cannot know the hearts of my children and even less those of people around me unless they clearly tell me, but even then they might be deceiving themselves even as I often do. In my application of scripture to the life of another person, it is of proclamation--here is the Gospel, here is what Jesus did for you, a sinner, repent and turn to him--but not of constant, exhausting working on that other person until they meet with my approval in the name of Jesus.

I have much much more to say on this subject but I want to get to this amazing sermon Matt so generously pointed me to last night. It seems there is another iteration of this human centered, I'll fix everything myself manner of being.

Here's the offending paragraph.
Restorative justice is different from contemporary criminal justice practice in a number of ways. It views criminal acts more comprehensively: rather than limiting crime to lawbreaking, it recognizes that offenders harm victims, communities, and even themselves. It involves more parties: rather than including only the government and the offender in key roles, it invites victims and communities as well. It measures success differently: rather than measuring how much punishment has been inflicted, it measures how much harm has been repaired or prevented. Finally, rather than leaving the problem of crime to the government alone, it recognizes the importance of community involvement and initiative in responding to and reducing crime.
So some poor boob robs a bank. And he goes before a judge and is sent to jail. He survives jail, he gets out and then he has to go through some awful community 'restorative justice' program. His life is ruined, not by stupidity, selfishness, and prison, but by 'listening sessions' and officious community minded men with carefully trimmed beards and a penetrating gleam in their eyes who constantly 'involve more people in the process'. There is no end point. There is no way out. The community is never 'restored' and never allowed to have a quiet moment to recover.

In the old days you used to be allowed to do something awful, go to jail and then move on with your life. And Christians used to be allowed to quietly go to church, confess their sins, receive Holy Communion and go out to love and serve the Lord. And children used to be allowed to grow up thinking about how to come by a better pair of roller skates. Now we all get to think about ourselves, and the failings of other people, all the blessed time. Actually, maybe I take it back. Maybe Tory Baucam will 'speak into the life' of Shannon Johnston. And they'll have regular weekly meetings working on restorative justice. And while they do that, we can creep away and get on with our lives and maybe get something done, like the lawn mowed or a food pantry filled or something.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

let me be your morning cup of coffee

One baby is down for the count. Marigold woke up at 11pm having thrown up and then again at 3am with a fever. I held her from 3 to 5 praying fervently and selfishly that she would not throw up on me or in my bed, dozing here and there and startling awake from strange and irritating dreams. Now the baby, I mean Baby Lady Elaine, is trying to sit on her head and laughing with a gusty insane laugh.

So, I'm taking bets with myself as to how long before the next child falls.

On the other hand, Marigold lying around drinking sips of water and having a periodic hug is a blessed temporary relief from Marigold running around pulling everything out of the cupboards and pouring couscous on the floor. It may be that we could get the girls out of their room in preparation for my parents to be in there (SO Exciting!) with Half the Hassle.

And while we (me and all the well children) do that, Matt will be focusedly writing his talk for the local LDS congregation on Saturday evening. He has a light in his eyes and his hair is all on end as he navigates the intricacies of Mormon theology and thought. Every few hours he emerges and relates some new something he's discovered. Don't know how he'll actually type, though, since it appears he's just seriously hurt his hand by busting a blood vessel or something.

So, if you need something, call first, because I might be covered in vomit. Cheerio!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

little meat pies

But first, here are my tulips blooming.

And a remaining daffodil.
So, Little Meat Pies.
The dough is 2 1/2 cups flour, and because I was lazy, two sticks of salted butter instead of actually taking the trouble of having to stir a teaspoon of salt into the flour. Cut the butter into the dough until you have a good crumbly mix and then add cold water, just enough to bind the dough but not so its too sticky. Don't be afraid of handling the dough. You can make it tough with over mixing but you mustn't worry. Just authoritatively bind the dough into a ball and let it sit while you dig out your leftover mashed potato, cheese and ham. Roll out the dough and use a glass to cut out rounds. Two rounds per pie. You lather potato on the first round and then a slice of cheese and then a bit of ham.
Then you plunk the second round over the first and fold the edges up. I never bother with wetting the edges or anything. It's too irritating and sticky. I got 12 full pies and three half ones out of one batch of dough.
I can't stand that my camera is so irrevocably sticky that I can't get a picture in focus. SO Maddening.
The children whose birthday it wasn't filled deviled eggs in a sticky disgusting mess. Marigold filled an egg, licked the filling out, filled it again and so the long day wore on.
Pie and eggs for lunch.

And, if you don't feel up to making meat pies, here are some animals who are very very disappointed in you. Mad props to Kellie for bringing this amazing link to my attention.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

happy birthday alouicious

Alouicious is eight today. Bless his heart.
He's been up since 6 bouncing around our heads whispering in our ears that he should be given a present. One whole present. An expensive terrifying present. A present that's going to need parental controls and probably a heavy duty protective case so that when his nasty little sister picks it up and flings it on the floor it has a chance of survival.

That's right, the only thing he wanted for his birthday, and the only thing he's going to get (just kidding, he's being given a bike too, blast his incessant growing) is a
Kindle Fire.

May God have mercy on my soul, and his.
So, obviously, I can't sit here and describe for you all my feelings and thoughts and insights. If I don't get a move on and wrap that sucker, this child will have some kind of break down. And I guess I need to bake a cake, and for supper he's requested 'Fancy Pancakes', in other circles known as 'Crepes'.

Happy Birthday Alouicious. Now that you have your own internet connection you can probably read this. (sound of weeping, sobbing and general distress as I take another inch forward into a life where my children are sentient and ever more involved in my life)

Friday, April 13, 2012

spring cleaning

Its clean! The basement is totally and truly and profoundly clean. There are still toys to sort through and a diminishing pile of boxes with paper we need to chuck (why is it so hard through away badly written college papers?) and I haven't yet done the Great Spring Clothes Change Over of 2012 but that's because it could probably still snow.
But its clean!

The basement, both in this house and the old one, has always been my living icon of sin and hypocracy. I go on cleaning the upper layers of the house, rearranging the furniture, dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing my kitchen floor, while all the time, the true rot lies just underneath me, filthy, disorganized, full of broken toys and junk. I don't have to go down there very often. I can scuttle down with my eyes almost completely closed and get the thing I'm looking for or quickly throw in some laundry, but it seems I never find the time to really face it.

And even if I were to go down and face it and clean it, where would I begin? So I go on cleaning and polishing the outside of my cup, white washing my tomb and letting the dirt accumulate unabated.

But then grace comes down in human form and starts cleaning (in this case, Matt) and I am able to participate. I started sorting through junk and throwing it away and rearranging things to make more sense and dusting. But Matt really did the heavey lifting. He got in there and got the actual dirt out. God, once he even gives us the grace to look into the mess of ourselves, is the one who really erradicates sin, although we do get to work along with him, if only to mumble along gratefully, 'oh, I've been meaning to get rid of that ugly thing for ages, just never got around to it.'

And now! because we did what we were supposed to do, and the weather is supposed to be fine, it may be that we will have time to begin planting some garden. How biblical is that? (I mean, I ask, but obviously, its very very biblical.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

easter haze

We're attempting to take a few days off,
which means I'm not going to leap out of bed to pour Elphine's wretched cat a saucer of milk. She, Frances, can just sit there and stare bullets at me. Both cats are looking at me as if they'd like to maul me to death. I do, generally, like cats, but Frances doesn't like me, and the other one is too needy this morning for me to be really fond of him. Thank heaven I'm not God because every person asking for something would have been smitten by now.

So yesterday I watched Cheaper by the Dozen with Elphine and Gladys (who promptly fell asleep). I must have read this at some point but I don't remember it at all. I was a little unimpressed with the simpering of the two oldest girls in the first scene (Elphine loves to tilt her head, put her hands under her chin and talk in a sickly fake and disgusting English Accent--DRIVES me crazy and I don't want to do a single thing to encourage it) but the plot moved along and there wasn't over much of that. Anyway, deeply enjoyed the slam against Planned Parenthood and the father going along to the school dance. But then, !!!!! there needs to be some kind of death warning on the label. Or I guess I could have just known better. But the father dying in the last three minutes of the film! Honestly. Elphine started out the day with a long speech about how she couldn't watch anything sad because we'd made her watch 1. the White Lion (full of death) and 2. Desperaux (full of suspense) and 3. half of Iron Man before she burst into tears. She kept saying she just "needed a break".

So much for "family" movie nights. I dislike watching movies anyway. Scanning endlessly the ever decreasing live stream options on Netflix, I increasingly feel a vague sense of despair, like we're all wasting our lives and we should be doing something more interesting. This "fun", "special", "family" activity is a real pain. Thankfully, we don't do it very often.

And now I am going to get up and throw something at Frances because she just hit the other cat for no reason. Its the circle of life, here on our week off. Life and death all circling together. (That's a reference to Lion King for those of you who missed it--another move I really hate.)

Have a lovely Thursday!

Monday, April 09, 2012

for the grandparents

 Stuff is coming up in my garden.
 Six children dying eggs means buying three flats of eggs.
 A good time, as you can see, was had by all.
 "The Easter Bunny" came. Stupid Bunny.
 Easter Preparations laid out on Saturday before the Vigil.
 Nobody wanted a picture. Some were very angry.
 And nobody would cooperate. Threatened to take all the chocolate away.
 Arguing quietly in the church nursery.
 My, that Is a baby!
 It looks pious, but what they were talking about was not holy at all. (Sunday School)
 Mary, Mary the Mother of James and Salome running along the top of the tomb and then jumping off with explosion and machine gun sound effects. The young man beats them all up. "That's NOT how we use these materials!" the Sunday School teacher shouted.
 Exhausted children hunt for eggs.
 How is it that they're basically the same height? #weird
 One of them escaped from bed. Can you guess which?
 Running around and around with no clue but happy anyway.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

my sermon for the vigil

The whole story of God and Israel is like one of those awful love stories—you know the kind I mean. It starts out all lovely and hopeful. God calls Abraham and speaks to him and reveals himself to him, and Abraham loves God, more even than his own son. And then Isaac loves God, and then Jacob. And God tells each of them who he is and they each build an altar and praise the Lord. And then there’s great tragedy of Joseph being betrayed by his brothers but God is there for him and the power of God’s provision overwhelms the whole family and they are restored to each other in Egypt. And then there’s another huge tragedy. The people of God, Israel, fall into slavery and trouble and they begin to cry out to God and remember that God had made himself known to their ancestors. And God hears them and comes to rescue them and brings them out of this immense and terrifying crisis, bringing them through the 10 plagues and rescuing them from the Egyptian Army, bringing them out into the desert to marry them, to make vows and a establish a covenant with them.
He gives them the Law—this great expression of His perfect character and order and life.
He gives them food, miraculous food and water.
He gives them his presence—a visible pillar of fire in the night to light and cheer and guide them, and in the day a cloud that they can see and know that the Lord is near, he has come to save.
And then, just when everything seems settled and safe and perfect, Israel cheats. Right in the midst of all this love and provision, Israel, right there, in the shadow of Mt. Sinai, right there under God’s very nose, gives herself to another god. She falls down before a human made bestial image of a cow, a lifeless, provisionless, loveless object, and gives it the name of God, calls it The Lord. And so begins the ongoing painful story of God going to buy back, to rescue, to yell at Israel, whom he loves and who does not love him back, who would rather die than be with him. It is an endless back and forth of Israel loving God and then rejecting him, loving him and then rejecting him, trying to love him but then ultimately and completely rejecting him in the person of Jesus. When Jesus stands, in the week before his life, looking out at Jerusalem and weeping ‘O Jerusalem, how I loved you, how I longed to gather you to myself as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not have it’, it is the culmination of a thousand years of pain, a thousand years of rejection.
Why would God do this? In our daily lives if someone hurts us one time it’s enough for us to cut them out, to move on. When we say that God is Love—Aedan read in something the other day, that the name of God is love and he scoffed, ‘that’s not God’s name’ he said, ‘but it’s who he is,’ I said, ‘he is love’—We don’t have a way to understand this. Our vision is so narrow. Our hearing is so dim. Why bother, why does God bother? Why, when before Adam and Eve had had time to even to, I don’t know, do anything, the First Thing they do is reject God, before they do anything else they reject God, and God, sets into motion the plan he had always had to restore them to himself, to love them to the very end. Why?
The women racing along to the tomb in the first light of the dawn didn’t consider this question. They weren’t asking themselves, ‘why did Jesus do it? Why did he die?’ They sped along in total grief. They had dropped everything to follow this man up and down the length of Israel. They knew the ordinariness of his everyday life—the exhaustion of dealing with the crowds, the deep humility, the strength and power of his word and person. They loved him. And Simon Peter, even while he was shouting to all the passersby that he, Peter, didn’t know Jesus, had never seen him before, he loved him. How awful the grief of seeing someone die whom you let down, whom you betrayed? And the other disciples, cower in the corners of Jerusalem, devastated with guilt and grief. Most of them had run away at the critical moment. All of them, like Israel loving God, they loved him, but not enough.
The women speed along in the rising dawn of Sunday morning to anoint the body of their beloved, to do for him that last thing before they tried to put their lives back together.  
Midweek, as I was freaking out over the heavy weight of my to-do list, Matt made the not funny observation that its really easy to get all lyrical and gushy about the cross. When writing about the cross, the stuff just flows out. It’s so easy to describe. There’s so much to say. We understand death. We are well acquainted with grief and suffering. Even this evening as we sit here in this beautiful light, many of us are grieving for Bob who died on Thursday. And I am so worried about so many people I know fleeing from Mali as that whole country falls into ruin and devastation. As I think of them and pray I feel right there, sitting at the foot of this instrument of death, the cross, gazing at the body of Jesus and crying out, ‘see, everything is ruined.’
The women speeding along to the tomb--I say speeding because I imagine they would have been wanting to get this painful and agonizing task over with, but they could have been going slowly, after all, they didn’t know how they would get into the tomb, and maybe the spices were heavy—it’s easy to stay, spiritually, with these women. They aren’t filled with hope and expectation. Sometimes it seems like I’m always on the way to the tomb, expecting death, sad about how bad things are, going to see a Jesus I don’t believe in and haven’t listened to. In this way I am not so different from the woman sitting in the camp of Israel in the shadow of Mt. Sinai, waiting for Moses to come down the mountain and tell me something about God and deciding, along with everyone else, that God isn’t going to do anything, that we might as well do the best we can with what we have. The person throwing herself down in front of the golden calf, or throwing great big stones at the prophets or shouting ‘Crucify Him’ or even running along in the half light to anoint the dead are all in the same place—the place of death. And that is what we are surrounded by in this life, suffering and death.
But that was never the plan. God, who through the centuries had called and suffered and finally died, never intended for this to be it. God is not like us. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. When his word goes forth from his mouth, it does not come back empty.
The only thing empty is the hewn out stone tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid. The women feel the ground shake before they arrive at the grave. They are met by an angel who tells them that he isn’t there. They look and see that he isn’t there. The grave clothes are there. The grave itself is there. But not Jesus.
How do we even begin to conceive of this? That a person who was dead would be alive—not just spiritually, but physically? The angel tells the women to go tell the disciples and then, as they go, Jesus meets them and they see him. They hear him. Alive, in his body.
Jesus, in his resurrected perfected body is, as Isaiah said about the branch in verse 5 of chapter 4, so glorious that when he is first seen, those closest to him didn’t immediately recognize him. Whereas before he was nothing that anyone would have remarked on him, now he is beautiful. And then in verse 5, Isaiah writes
Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
Over all this will be a canopy—the canopy under which a man and  woman stand on the day of their marriage to each other—the day they covenant, the day they bind themselves together in love. The power that raised Jesus out of the grave was not this mechanical power like something out of battlestar galactica. This power is the love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The power of that love holds all things together and brings the created order into existence, and that love was concentrated and focused on the tomb on Easter morning. Death has no power over the love of God.
And it is this love that God concentrates and focuses on you when he brings you to life in himself. When God calls you to himself and saves you, he takes your dead stone cold heart and resurrects it, brings it to life. And every day that you love him, both now and forevermore, every day it will get bigger and more alive and more full of him and his love. Can you imagine Bob, right now, in the presence of this risen Christ? I bet he’s still in shock. But he has a long time to get used to it. And you here tonight, if you love Jesus and he knows your name, he himself is living in you through the Holy Spirit. He is preparing you every moment for the shock of seeing him face to face. You will rise in your body when he returns, but right now, right now he is making you alive in glory, he is making you holy and clean and whole. As chaos and destruction rein on every side, you are brought further and closer in to the glory of God’s love, the cloud of God’s saving presence, the fire of God’s perfecting love.
The women arrive at the tomb in grief and leave in glory. He is alive. He is risen. Go out from here and tell everybody you know that he is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Friday, April 06, 2012

my sermon from today

I'm to tired to reformat this so it will look really really long.
The text is Isaiah 52-53.

The cross of Jesus stands at the center of time and history. All of creation is ordered and given meaning by the cross of Jesus.
It is looked forward to from the moment Adam and Eve are called
to by God in the cool of the garden.
He calls them out of hiding
and slaughters an animal and clothes them.
The blood spills out on the ground
in an ugly smear of redemptive death and from then on,
the work of the cross is prefigured
and pointed to
and announced in stories,
in people’s lives,
in the mouths of prophets.
And here we are, 2000 years later,
looking back to it as that great dark life giving moment
that made it possible for us to sit here.
The vision given to Isaiah,
falling like a dark shadow across the landscape of scripture,
is God speaking down the corridor of time.
He himself looked at the cross as he spoke to Isaiah.

Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
Look at my servant, says God, who acts,
whose very being is wisdom and rationality,
in whom all things hold together and make sense.
This action on the cross,
this deep wisdom of the ages,
is so contrary to our blind self-centered dim intellectualism.
As we come close to the cross,
all things come into the rational light of his saving countenance.
As we go away from it
our reason falls under the cloud of rebellion and sin.
he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
Jesus was nailed to the cross
and then it was hauled up and planted into the rock of Golgotha,
and all who passed by had to look up,
had to crane their necks to look up at him.
This moment of total suffering,
total humiliation,
total emptiness and pain was also the moment were God’s exultant glory,
his greatest triumph over human sin and rebellion was displayed,
was manifested, was shown forth.
Just as the people of Israel in the wilderness,
as they were dying as a result of their rebellion and sin,
if they wanted to live
they had to look up to the snake on the pole to be saved.
The snake,
cursed on the pole,
was the catalyst by which mankind fell away from God.
cursed, on a pole,
is the catalyst by which mankind is saved.

14 As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
His body so broken,
his face so marred from beating and abuse,
his back whipped and bleeding,
and then the sting of a thick robe thrown over the wounds,
and then pulled off and his own rough garment put on,
like those horribly marred corpses you see on the evening news
and you think,
‘was that even a person’.
The crowd is desensitized and hard,
not caring that the form of a man has been twisted and broken
into the form of death.
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations;
His blood just flows down over his broken flesh from his plethora of wounds. And everyone in the crowd—
come from every nation, from far and wide to feast the Passover,
the moment when God passed over and did not strike,
did not kill the firstborn of Israel—
here the firstborn of creation passes through the crowd of nations,
his blood spilling out over the whole earth.
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
Pilate’s mouth is stopped.
Having asked,
the question floating out into the universe
as a great defiant blindness
to see what is in front of him,
“What is truth?”
Truth stands silent and Pilate is left rejecting the person,
the answer,
delivering him over to death.
No human authority or principality or throne or power or dominion
has control over the Truth,
standing there bleeding and broken.
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.
On the cross,
the glory of God was fully revealed for all of creation
to see and hear and understand.
It was so powerful,
so complete an act
that merely hearing of it,
retold generation after generation,
in place after place,
is enough to save.
Kings hear of it and are converted.
Children hear,
the poor,
the hungry hear and are satisfied.
We hear, understand, and believe.

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
Jesus, the True Vine,
growing up out of the dead, dry stump of Jesse,
doing what Israel was called to do,
growing up out of the death and rebellion of Israel
and taking it for himself,
carrying that very rebellion in his own flesh.
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
We look to beauty in every place.
We elevate and laud the beautiful and fine,
the golden cup whose outside is shiny and bright
but whose inside is stained with corruption and sickness.
Jesus didn’t come promising bright shiny happiness
but rather Truth and Holiness and Righteousness.
His plain face belied his glory,
the glory of heaven.
And so we did not desire him.
As long as he gave free bread and free healing, we listened.
But his blood spattered naked broken body could not hold our gaze or interest.
He was despised and rejected by men;
We rejected and despised him.
We held him in deep contempt and loathing.
The mocking during his trial,
the mocking that endures on the tips of our tongues
as we toss his name around as a curse against our circumstances.
The disdain with which we regard his commands,
with which we neglect his Word
spoken over thousands of years
and recorded, carefully, lovingly.
We don’t have time for it.
We don’t like what it says.

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
God went out with Adam and Eve as he drove them from the Garden,
weeping over the lost beauty of their lives,
enduring from thence on life where things break,
where the body grows sick and dies,
where beautiful trees and plants are ruined and cut down,
where we endure heartbreak and sometimes ruin.
Jesus is acquainted with grief.
He knows it.
He wrapped himself in it,
weeping over his people,
enduring their rejection and disdain.
Are you sometimes alone with no one to comfort and assist?
There is no place more lonely than the cross,
where Jesus hung alone,
alienated from us,
abandoned by his Father.

and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised,
and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
All the grief of sin and brokenness and destruction of his ruined creation,
Jesus picked up and carried with him.
As he struggled to carry the cross through the narrow streets,
out of the city of Jerusalem,
up to the hill,
stumbling and falling beneath its weight,
his very flesh carries the centuries of our weeping and brokenness.
Are you grief stricken?
Do you grieve?
Look up to the cross.
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
This is the will of God.
This is the plan of the Almighty.
He foresaw.
He foreknew.
He provided a way.
This is the way—that he himself bore the affliction of sin.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
Paul writes, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
He was pierced and crushed for us while we were his enemies.
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
This is the center of the gospel.
When most of us consider the whole course of our lives,
we don’t think we deserve to die.
We don’t think the full spectrum of our sin equals any chastisement,
any death,
nor any suffering.  
But it does.
And by putting it on him, on Jesus,
we are given peace with God in place of war and enmity.
Paul uses the word ‘reconciliation’.
We reconcile, we can have a relationship again.
We can talk back and forth and understand each other and know each other.
and with his wounds we are healed.
Whereas each sin,
each turning away from God causes a deeper and deeper sickness,
a more complete corruption of the heart, mind and soul,
the suffering of Jesus
causes the deep and total healing of that sickness and corruption.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
Like poor, foolish, blind sheep
we scatter and run,
every single one of us.
We are all disobedient.
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
‘Therefore’, writes Paul,
in response to what we did,
which was to go away and ruin everything,
God’s response was to put all that on Jesus,
“therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all me, son one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”
God laid our disobedience on Jesus
and his righteousness on us who believe in him.

So now we get a very precise picture of the whole passion.
Detailed, accurate, it lays out the actions of Jesus from his betrayal up to his death.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Never once did he defend himself or speak for his own justification.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away; …
There was nothing true in his trial, no fair judgment was given.
And they made his grave with the wicked
He was crucified with thieves on either side.
and with a rich man in his death,
laid in the tomb of Joseph of Aramathea, rich, a member of the Sanhedrin.
although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
And then see how the vision shifts.
Its like the camera pans up off the cross into the sky
and you see a tableau of time after the cross.
when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
The will of God to crush the Son,
to allow him to die bearing the incredible weight of sin and suffering
and brokenness and corruption,
that will prospered in the hand of the Son.
That will was fully realized,
fully completed.
The Father willed and the Son brought forth and embodied that will.
He prospered it.

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
As he is there, on the cross, he can see that his work is worthy and real,
that it is effective.
The agony of rejection,
the agony of pain,
the agony of the Father looking away from the Son,
the agony of death itself is worth it for what it accomplishes.
Our Lord, from the cross,
sees the great effect of this work across time and is satisfied.
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
The work of our Lord on the cross was to make you to be accounted as righteous. It was to give you the chance to come back into the presence of God,
to live there and rest in the presence of your God.
Not one sparrow falls to the ground without the knowledge of God.
Are you not more valuable than many sparrows?
Your Father knows you and has provided a way for you.
That way is the way of the cross.
It is the way of Life.
12 Therefore
Says the Lord, because of this great work that he has done
I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
He has the conqueror’s share.
In the great war against death and sin, as the winner he gets the spoil,
he is given the portion of victory.
And what is the spoil in this great Last Battle?
The portion is glory and honor and wisdom and power
forever and forever more.
To sit on the throne,
as the Lamb that was Slain receiving forever the praises of his people.
One day we will stand before him in person to worship him,
to praise him for his work, for his sacrifice, for his love for us.
because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father right now ‘making intercession’ for us. He brings us before the Father and justifies us and says ‘they are mine,
my blood has covered them,
listen to their prayers’
but even before now,
before the Ascension,
as he was hanging on the cross dying,
he interceded.
‘Father’ he cried out, ‘forgive them.’

When I consider the work of Jesus on the cross I personally am undone. The response that is required of me—that I merely accept it, that I put my whole self into the hands of Jesus and trust him to save me, to cover me with his blood, to let his righteousness be for my sin—it seems absurdly and devastatingly small. But that is the transaction, his whole self, for your whole self. The majesty and immensity of his suffering sacrifice belies the smallness of the gift of ourselves to him. The two are not equal. And yet, in his wisdom, in his providence, in his grace that’s what he died for—for you, for you to be able to give your whole self to him. For his blood to bind you up and heal you. For his love to cover the multitude and depth of your sins. Give yourself to him, today, for today he gave himself for you.