The following acrostics, which appear on my New Testament: Gospels page, were written as a combined reflection on Lent and Easter. I haven’t written an accompanying commentary: instead, they are offered as a free-standing starting point to our own thoughts.
In the church calendar, Easter is preceded by Lent. This recollects Jesus’s preparation for ministry after he had been baptised by John, when he went into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil. We remember this as a period of solemn reflection and self-dsicipline.
Love led Him to inhabit that wilderness of thirst
Empowered by the Spirit as Satan did his worst.
Now is the time to reaffirm our accord
To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord.
The Gospels culminate with the trial and crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
People pack the streets to hail their Messiah
Adversaries keep their distance, out of the way,
Lying in the wings they plot and conspire,
Mobs are fickle, not too difficult to sway.
Scattered with palms, the way is strewed,
Upon the colt of an ass, Jesus prays yet grieves.
Now Israel divides, leaders collude,
Daringly, Joseph of Arimathea believes.
A judgement awaits you, you vipers’ brood,
You who made the temple a den of thieves.
Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, when Jesus gave his disciples a mandate – Mandatum – to love each other and share bread and wine. This acrostic is written as if addressed to the disciples.
Meeting for Passover one final time,
A sacrifice awaiting a traitor’s crime,
Upstairs, far from the madding crowd,
Night wrapped you tight in its ink black shroud.
Dipping your matzah in the blood red wine
You became quick branches in the Saviour’s vine.
Take, eat of my body, drink of my blood
He commanded. How little you understood;
Uneasily, you let him wash your feet.
Remembrance, from now, would be bittersweet –
Suffering in joy, receiving in giving,
Death to self as a new way of living.
A final command, ever old and ever new –
You were to love one another as He had loved you.
Golgotha was a wretched place that day.
One passer-by had helped Him bear the cross,
Others had succoured Him on the way,
Despairing their victory had turned to loss.
Flogged, mocked, spat upon, betrayed
Rejected, stripped, despised, disowned thrice –
In between thieves he hung. One, unafraid,
Deprecated Him for His futile sacrifice,
And the other, penitent, with whom Jesus prayed –
You shall be with me this day in Paradise.
Even though the cross had staunched His breath,
And the tomb had set its seal on brutal death,
Sins of men yet stung in wounds still fresh,
The word no longer dwelt with us as flesh –
Even these could not prolong that darkest night.
Resurrected life kindled the world alight.
This was a difficult acrostic to compose but I felt it worth the struggle, because there’s a bit of ‘Doubting Thomas’ in us all. Actually, Thomas (also called Didymus) was a powerful disciple who, according to tradition, took Christianity eastwards towards India.
Didymus, the twin, was not in the room
On the Sunday of the empty tomb.
Unless he witnessed flank and limb
Believing wasn’t an option for him.
Then the Lord returned, dispelling doubt:
In front of all, He pointed out
Nailmarks and the spear’s
Gash, recalling God-forsaken tears.
Thomas rarely grasped things first time round –
His doubt was real, his faith profound.
Overwhelmed, humbled he confessed
My Lord and My God – and then was blessed.
And the twin became a saint of steel:
Sincere doubts oft make faith more real.
Luke’s gospel includes an account of two travellers walking along the road to Emmaus, who unwittingly walked and talked with the risen Christ (Luke 24:13-35). When they finally realised the identity of their companion, they said “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Every Sabbath they’d heard the age-old story
Many times the rabbi had read from Isaiah
Maybe this year, with great pomp and furore
Armies would arise, led by the Messiah.
Unwary, on the road, they encountered dirty glory
Suddenly the travellers’ hearts were afire.
Religious routine rarely reaps reward,
Only through relationship can our walk begin
And when you first encountered the risen Lord
Didn’t your heart strangely burn within?