When Solomon dedicated the Temple he rightly declared that not even the Heaven of Heavens could contain almighty God, much less this temple made with hands, yet God himself still came into the temple. He came as a baby, the essence of all light and purity in human flesh, he came as a young boy full of questions, seeking to know his father’s will, and today he came in righteous anger to clear away the blasphemous barriers that human power-games try to throw up between God and the world he loves. Then finally, by his death on the cross he took away the last barrier in the Temple, and in our hearts, the veil that stood between us and the Holy of Holies, the very presence of God, in us and beyond us.
This sonnet, and the others I will be posting for Holy Week are all drawn from my collection Sounding the Seasons, published by Canterbury Press here in England. The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA and physical copies are shortly to be available in Canada via Steve Bell‘s Signpost Music. The book is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of these sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great.
I am grateful to Linda Richardson who has given me permission to share with you her series of remarkable paintings, ‘The Faces of Holy Week’. These will be on display, together with my poems, in the resurrection chapel in St. Mary’s Linton throughout Holy Week, do look in and see them if you are in the area. You can also look at these paintings and others on Linda’s Webpage
Linda writes about this picture:
This painting is confrontation. Of believers, it asks the questions, “How do you silence me? Are you still trying to trade your good deeds for my love? What more do I have to do to show you that I love you? Do you really think you can barter for my love or will you receive it once again as pure grace?”
Of Christianity it might interrogate the way in which the Church has sometimes perverted the love it was meant to reveal, and has in some cases, grossly abused and violated its power causing terrible suffering.
Of those who doubt, it asks you to suspend your disbelief for a moment. Come as a child, without your sophisticated arguments, see how angry Christ is with the people who have wounded you and turned you away from Him. And see also how He forgives them, and loves you.
The face is painted with vigorous brush strokes. Can you see the whip he made? Can you see the birds flying up out of the painting and into freedom?
Come to your Temple here with liberation
And overturn these tables of exchange
Restore in me my lost imagination
Begin in me for good, the pure change.
Come as you came, an infant with your mother,
That innocence may cleanse and claim this ground
Come as you came, a boy who sought his father
With questions asked and certain answers found,
Come as you came this day, a man in anger
Unleash the lash that drives a pathway through
Face down for me the fear the shame the danger
Teach me again to whom my love is due.
Break down in me the barricades of death
And tear the veil in two with your last breath.