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With me like a mighty champion

by davesandel on April 12th, 2019

With me like a mighty champion

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion.

– From Jeremiah 20

Lent leans in hard on me today. This is the final Friday save just one, the one when Jesus dies. The GOOD Friday. Such a simple word, the “good,” this word gone bad.

Today it’s obvious we are heading up the road toward Jerusalem. No more waiting, no more hiding out in Galilee. Jesus has quickened his step toward Judea. A sense of urgency silences him and touches all of us.

I wish I didn’t know what happens next. The story breaks my heart. Jesus dies, my heart breaks open, and God’s love pours in. I know this is how it works, or should. But these stations, these stations of the cross, they are so hard! Sadness, anger, pain, they lock me in. Dare I say that I can’t stand it? Just leave me alone. Alone! I don’t want to know.

Jesus always seems to know my thoughts. He turns and looks at me and waits, while the others trundle past. Sandals raise tiny dusty clouds, the shuffling shoes, the breathing, silence among the disciples. Jesus touches my shoulder, he smiles, his words are warm. “Don’t be afraid. Just let me love you.”

I am caught up. I look into his eyes, they soften. My tears fall. “I love YOU, Jesus. What is this thing you think you have to do?” And his tears mirror mine. He won’t explain. Those are not the words we need.

Jesus gazes into the hazy air above the road, and looks at me like we were little boys. “Remember Jeremiah? That crazy man they taught us about in school?” Even he could say “the Lord is with me like a mighty champion.” Well, surely, we can say it too.

*           *           *

Thank you, dusty road with Jesus. Thank you, Mary Oliver. Thank you, rose garden. Here … is a poem for this dread-full day.

When the Roses Speak, I Pay Attention

“As long as are able to

be extravagant we will be

hugely and damply

extravagant. Then we will drop

foil by foil to the ground. This

is our unalterable task, and we do it



And they went on. “Listen,

the heart-shackles are not, as you think,

death, illness, pain,

unrequited hope, not loneliness, but


lassitude, rue, vainglory, fear, anxiety,


Their fragrance all the while rising

from their blind bodies, making me

spin with joy.

*           *           *

So Lord, you tell me not to be afraid? Let’s just walk together down the road and see what happens next? Together, we will choose to trust the God who made us, makes us whole. Trust the rose to bloom, trust the rose to die, trust the rose to rise again. Spin out with joy, cry and laugh out loud. O Hosanna Jesus!

Mary Oliver, “When the Roses Speak, I Pay Attention,” from Thirst, p. 9, 2007

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