Thursday, 23 April 2015

Done is a Battle

We began Lent with a satirical poem by Scotlands great makar, William Dunbar. Let us enter Easter with a glorious hymn:

Done is a Battle
By William Dunbar

Done is a battle on the dragon black,
Our champion Christ confoundit has his force;
The yettis of hell are broken with a crack,                             yettis = gates
The sign triumphal raisit is of the cross,
The devillis trymmillis with hiddous voce,
The saulis are borrowit and to the bliss can go,
Christ with his bloud our ransonis dois indoce:                       indoce= endorse
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.                                             The Lord is risen from the tomb

Dungin is the deidly dragon Lucifer,                                       dungin= beaten
The crewall serpent with the mortal stang;
The auld kene tiger, with his teith on char,                             on char = bared
Whilk in a wait has lyen for us so lang,
Thinking to grip us in his clawis strang;
The merciful Lord wald nocht that it were so,
He made him for to failye of that fang.
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

He for our saik that sufferit to be slane,
And lyk a lamb in sacrifice was dicht,
Is lyk a lion risen up agane,
And as a gyane raxit him on hicht;                             gyane = giant  raxit = stretched
Sprungen is Aurora radious and bricht,
On loft is gone the glorious Apollo,
The blissful day departit fro the nicht:
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

The grit victour again is rissen on hicht,
That for our querrell to the deth was woundit;
The sun that wox all pale now shynis bricht,                          wox = grew
And, derkness clearit, our faith is now refoundit;
The knell of mercy fra the heaven is soundit,
The Christin are deliverit of their wo,
The Jowis and their errour are confoundit:
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

The fo is chasit, the battle is done ceis,                                  ceis= cease
The presone broken, the jevellouris fleit and flemit;               jailors banished
The weir is gon, confermit is the peis,                                    weir = war
The fetteris lowsit and the dungeon temit,
The ransoun made, the prisoneris redeemit;
The field is won, owrecomen is the fo,
Dispuilit of the treasure that he yemit:                                    yemit=guarded

Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

Friday, 3 April 2015


It took six of us to get the cross down
Heavy and unwieldy with its burden.
Daniel swung the big mallet to knock out the bracing wedges,
The post hole made big from constant use.
I remembered a similar mallet in Joseph’s workshop,
He used it to knock in door posts.
How Jesus had laughed with each blow
As his arms vibrated and his hands fizzed as he braced the post.
He won’t be feeling these blows.
We had to let the cross fall at the last,
The body bouncing bonelessly and settling.
And then the struggle to get the nails out,
The left came out easily
It had used a previous hole made for some other poor wretch.
But the right was driven well in,
We had to make a bearing block for the pry bar,
To have crushed his poor hand would have been unbearable.
I cut the rope that bound his ankles
Used when they drove the nails into his feet.
Once free from the killing frame
We laid him on a rough hurdle,
Using the rope to bind his arms and legs to stop them falling awry.
With John I lifted the front
Timothy and David carried the rear
And the womenfolk held up the lanterns,
We stumbled down the hill to Esther’s house.
We tumbled the body of our Lord onto a table,
We could do no other, our arms screaming from carrying,
Our legs trembling from the descent.
Dancing, threatening shadows faded away
As the women lit lamps and placed them round the room
Replacing menace with warm light and love.
We unbound the body for the women to tend
And drew back to allow them space,
As we did so his arm fell away and swung loosely,
More lifeless than his body.
I leaped forward and grasped his hand, his cold cold hand
All that life affirming warmth completely drained away.
I stood foolishly chafing his hand
Trying to put my heat into him.
He had not been a big man, about average
But his body seemed longer than his height.
I marvelled at the whiteness, at the fineness of his bones.
His beautiful hand marred by the hideous puncture wound in outraged flesh,
As though a mouth had opened to shout the obscenities of this death.
With care they rolled him, first left then right, bathing and tenderly drying,
The angry wheals of his scourging blatant against the skin.
His mother carefully combed out his hair,
The livid snags of the thorns bright around his head
She bathed his face with her tears.
Mary his friend, was gently soothing and smoothing the indignities,
The terrible wound in his side gaped
Jagged and torn as the pilum was withdrawn,
And I had a brief glimpse of a grape purple inner sheath.
I watched as she lovingly wiped down his body,
Moving aside his flaccid member with a sad smile on her face.
The hair at the base of his belly gleamed gold in the lamplight.
I wondered if he had fully realised his humanity and fervently hoped that he had.
I had to relinquish my hold as scented oils were poured over his body      
Before wrapping him in linen, taken from my sight,
Until all that was my Lord became a cloth bundle
But oh what was contained therein!
The sun was rising in a million scintillas of light
As we hurried our precious burden to the tomb prepared for him.
We laid him on the corpse ledge, and fussed with the tucks and folds
Nobody wanted to leave, we stood, disconsolate,
As though our combined presence could somehow revive him.
A clink from the masons chisel woke us from our reverie,
And in turn we stooped and kissed his forehead.
The air thick with repressed grief and choked sobs.
The mason slapped mortar around the entrance,
And all of us helped set the stone, sealing away all that was best.
The dull thud as the stone settled echoed my broken heart.

Sounding down through the years.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Easter Services

On Good Friday the Passion Gospel according to John is read in full.  We hear the preaching of the Passion. We have time to contemplate the Cross.  We may receive Holy Communion from the Blessed Sacrament reserved last night.

The Ecumenical Service at Christ Church embraces all these things.
This Year the format will be:
12-1       Music and reflection: Haydens Seven Last Words
1-2.30    The Passion according to John read dramatically
                The Preaching of the Passion from different Churches
2.30        Time for Contemplation (to Allegri’s Miserere)
                Solemn Prayers for the World
3              after a short pause Holy Communion

The Vigil of Easter
Easter is the festival of our Christian Baptism, the sacrament which joins us to the Risen Life of Christ.
The traditional Vigil of Easter begins in the dark between sunset and sunrise.
In the darkness of Christ’s death and burial, New Light is kindled.
From this the Paschal Candle is lit, blessed, and honoured.
The Paschel Candle is the sign and symbol of Christ Risen, the Light of the World. It is greeted with ancient song, honouring it as the Fiery Pillar which led the Children out of Israel, the morning Star which never sets, and the gift of the Mother Bee.  All creation is joined in Christ’s saving work!
Then, in the darkness of the Church, we listen to God’s Covenant of Love: The Creation, the story of Noah, the story of Abraham and Isaac, the Crossing of the Red Sea, the great Prophets of Israel, Isiah and Ezekiel.
Then the Gloria is sung: Christ is Risen! The lights of the Church are lit, and the Gospel is read.
Then the font Is blessed: the source of the Easter life which streams out to us in Baptism. The Paschel Candle is immersed three times in the font to bless the waters.
All renew thei Baptismal Promises.
And we proceed with joy to celebrate the Mysteries of our Life in Christ in the Eucharist.

The Vigil will, I hope be celebrated at All Saints, Inveraray on Saturday night at 8pm.
St Columba, Poltalloch: Easter Eucharist will be celebrated at 9am

Christ Church: The New Fire will be lit at 11am, and the Paschal Candle blessed.  We will hear the Crossing of the Red Sea and the Easter Gospel.  The waters of the font are blessed and all renew their Baptismal Promises, and the Eucharist of Easter is celebrated.