Untitled (Resurrection / Empty Cross)

Easter Sequence - Resurrection


After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightening, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him.

Gospel of Matthew 28: 1- 9


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Untitled (Soldiers Gamble for Jesus’ Clothes)

Easter Sequence - Dice


Another day, another denarius. I could really have done without pulling another duty up on the hill, though, to be honest. There aren’t many of the things we have to do that are fun exactly, but keeping order at the executions has to come pretty close to the bottom of the list.

Not that I’ve much time for the people we process – chances are, if you’re assigned a cross, you’ve put yourself in a position to deserve it one way or another. No, it’s not that. It’s just the whole nature of the day. Early start, flogging up from the city, sometimes literally, with a bunch of criminals who funnily enough aren’t too keen on co-operating; half of them probably trying to find ways to get themselves killed before we get there. Then the fight to get them on and up, followed by a tedious day out in the heat. Their victims jeering and hurling abuse. Maybe the odd friend or family member grieving or standing vigil. The occasional mad, misguided rescue attempt. The shouts, groans, protests and curses from above and all around. Tension, hate, grief, the stink of fear and death.

And of course, we’re in charge. We’re authority. So no room for weakness, no signs of doubt – club together, the bravado of the gang, mocking, jeering, and distracting ourselves however we can just to get to the end of the shift. Why else do we gamble for their possessions? I mean, the pay’s not great, but most of these people are only clad in rags by the time they come to us, and none of us are that hard up.

Still, can’t have bleeding hearts in the army. The job needs doing, and it’s us that get to do it. Keep your head down, don’t stand out for the wrong reasons, get on with it and get through the day as best you can.

What other choice is there?


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Strange Way (Martyn Joseph)

Easter Sequence - Crucifixion


Strange way to start a revolution
Strange way to get a better tan
Strange way to hold a power breakfast
Strange way to show your business plan
Strange way to test if wood would splinter
Strange way to do performance art
Strange way to say “I’ll see you later”
Strange way to leave behind your heart

Strange dissident of meekness
And nurse of tangled souls
And so unlike the holy
To end up full of holes
It’s a strange way

Strange way to hang around for hours
Strange way to imitate a kite
Strange way to get a view of Auschwitz
Strange way to represent the light
Strange way to watch for stormy weather
Strange way to disprove gravity
Strange way to go around fund-raising
Strange way to sing “I’m liberty”

Strange dissident of meekness
And nurse of tangled souls
And so unlike the holy
To end up full of holes
Strange way

Strange way to test for haemophilia
Strange way to spend a happy hour
Strange way to down a bitter cocktail
Strange way to merchandise your power
Strange way to reassure your mother
Strange way to finish your world tour
Strange way to pose for countless paintings
Strange way to gather in the poor

Strange dissident of meekness
And nurse of tangled souls
And so unlike the holy
To end up full of holes
Strange way

The world is too much with us
Could we not now just elope?
Strange way to hold us closer
Strange way to give us hope
Strange way…


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Lyrics copyright © Martyn Joseph, Stewart Henderson, Carol Henderson

Untitled (Pilate washes his hands)

Easter Sequence - Pilate


What do you see
    standing there looking on?
How do you make
    that final choice?
As you juggle in your hand, your heart
The forces pressing in on you
How hard do you fight?
How far do you push?
How much must you let go
    just to hold on?
Yet what would you grasp
    if you just let go?
And when you wash your hands
    before you dine
    when you bathe
    time after time
    for so many things
Does it really make you clean?


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Untitled (Peter’s Denial)

Easter Sequence - Cock Crow

Cock Crow

How easy it is
to be strong, ahead of time
To be loud
before it’s all on the line

A simple thing
to make a promise
break a promise

To love yet forget
to care but upset
to be true and still lie
sincere and deny
to have the best
of intentions
and still come adrift

A difficult thing
to make a promise
break a promise

To catch a friend’s eye
to see a smile go
to feel dead inside
as you hear the cock crow

And what makes the difference
what turns it around
from bravado and bluster
collapsed to a lie
to the person on fire
willing to die?


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Untitled (Gethsemane)

Easter Sequence - Gethsemane


I guess we often know
when it’s all about to go down,
when the world falls away
and there’s no sunny way out;
that sudden transition
from a crisp Spring day
to the void of the darkest night.

When the battle raging
is not even between hope and despair;
when the combatants in your heart, your soul
contain not one
not one
who is on your side.

It makes no difference
if you wrestle and rage
run and hide
deny and avoid
sit and weep.
There are no silver bullets
No last minute reprieves
Time will not turn back
No wand will be waved.
There is only one way
and all that there is
in the pressure and absence
the hurt and the fear
the weary, weary depths
‘though you’d swear it ain’t so
a simple

we are
any of us


and we
all of us



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Untitled (The Last Supper)

Easter Sequence - Last Supper

Last Supper



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An Onlooker

Easter Sequence - The Temple

The Temple

I hadn’t really thought about it before.   I mean, the traders had always been there, selling all the things we needed for the rituals and sacrifices, changing money, providing all the paraphernalia of offering.   OK, so they clearly weren’t in it for charity, but, well … people need the stuff, and getting stiffed by the authorities, that’s just the way it is, right?   Don’t mess with the established order, keep your head down, get on with it.

Anyway, it’s all business as usual, and then suddenly this man Jesus shows up.   Apparently he’d only arrived in the city the day before, but he’s straight in there, no messing about – quoting the scriptures at the same time as chucking all the traders out of the courtyard: words, tables, money, birds, people all flying all over the place!   Certainly not one of those preachers that left you wondering just what it was they were trying to say.

But the really amazing thing, the thing that stuck with me, is he’s just one man, right?   Yes, he came in like a whirlwind, but he’s just one bloke.   Yet the people went.  And the temple bigwigs, they didn’t look too pleased, but they didn’t stop him.   And not only did they go, not only did he pull it off, they didn’t come back.   The next few days there’s none of the usual stalls and traders in there, just people coming to the temple for, well, for what the temple’s for.   And Jesus teaching, healing, and meeting with all kinds of people.

And now all the adrenalin’s long faded, and time’s moved on, it’s still left me thinking.  Left me wondering, mulling over, just how much of what we take for granted isn’t necessarily the way it should be?


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A View From A Donkey

Easter Sequence - Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

So, Jerusalem.   All the people, all the noise; the cheering, the praise.   The warmth.   And the weight of expectation.

I wonder how many of them will remember this when they’re calling for my death, just a few days from now?   How many will have been in both crowds, caught up in the moment, swept along, but not really knowing, just carried in the moment?   It reminds me of the beginning – humanity so close to the Father; intimate, walking with Him; yet so soon and easily swayed to rejection by a few well-placed words, a gentle nudge at the right time, in the right place.

And look at my friends: bewildered, excited, happy, overwhelmed by this reception, not sure quite what to make of it, but certain it’s right, that we have finally arrived.   The mixture of joy and bemusement on their faces is such a picture, it makes me smile deep inside!   For them, despite the colt, despite all the subtle ironies, despite my trying to tell them what is to come, this really is a “triumphal entry”.   Yet at heart, it’s just another step of obedience, another moment on the journey, the choice to continue, to fulfil the task set before me, to walk in the Father’s will.

Still, it is good.   Good to be welcomed, to be recognised, to be known and acknowledged.   Good to share the joy, the celebration and the fun of this day, to see the Spirit stirring these hearts, to know that the stones don’t have to cry out.   And for my friends, my disciples, I hope that they can hold this day in their hearts, and begin to grasp that exciting and uplifting as it is, it is only a shadow of what is to come.


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