Friday, December 5, 2008

the Truth's the Truth for all that

OK, I confess, we are studying Robert Burns.

The inspiring thought for this post is that marvelous quality of Truth, that it remains True whether we know it or not, acknowledge it or not, or someone else testifies against it. Francisco, a Mozambican pastor/missionary in town who has become a great friend of ours, spoke at the International Fellowship a few weeks ago. His assigned verses were "the guards report" at the end of Matthew, Didn't leave much room for improvisation, but it will go down as one of the few sermons I've heard that I will remember. His point: regardless of what the guards said, Christ still rose. Simple. Straight. True is still true.

Sometimes it doesn't seem quite so straightforward. Last night I tried to glean (from the internet--not a wise thing to do, there is way too much to glean anything) some insight into Obama's birth certificate hulabaloo. I found many adamantly, certifiably correct web sites claiming it is absolutely authentic and just as many insisting it was a verifiable forgery. The internet has become a tangled web, and Truth is hidden somewhere in it. Probably where you least expect it. Once I perceived it as a blessing out here where information (about spider bites, dysentery, home remedies) is vital. The internet is a gold mine. Well, I discovered it has its share of fool's gold, too.

All this contemplation on top of Francisco's sermon inspired me. So I wrote a poem. If you don't do poetry, stop here. I enjoy the speculation of what it might have been to be one of the eye-witnesses to something really awesome.

(Have to include an Italy picture--this is the guards of Vittorio Immanuel's monument.)

A Guard of the Tomb

“An easy duty, rest assured,” the priests and elders said:
“To guard a rock-hewn garden tomb and keep a dead man dead.”
I saw them carry in the corpse, the wrapping thick with gore.
They laid it on the granite slab centered in the floor.

What job was this for legionnaires? Our indignation rose--
But Rome still gives the orders with her discipline imposed.
The storied stone was rolled in place; we five were out of breath.
And once in place, a seal was set: to break it would be death.

We were alert, the night was cool, no ghostly hauntings there;
Suddenly the garden quaked and Power filled the air.
My breath came short. We double-checked the seal upon the stone.
Before our normal watch resumed, a deep unearthly groan

Issued from foundations and the night grew strangely colder.
Spirits? My heart pitched to hear the grating of the boulder.
Horror-struck, we watched as some Almighty, unseen hand
Rolled back that stone, no effort shown: brought down the Jewish plan.

We witnessed, knowing certain death; to fail was execution.
My fellows fell as petrified, my mind was a confusion.
Moonlight pierced, the stone rolled free and pagan death reversed.
I fought to breathe; I grasped my sword to fight: I felt the curse

Give way and out the gaping hole a figure came in white.
No blood marred Him. He was not death. Dare I trust my sight?
For one brief pause, our eyes full met. He looked at me and smiled,
Then through the waking garden strode. I rooted like a child.

I saw Him rise--I felt His strength, and peace, that makes no sense:
His liberty was my arrest. There’d be strong recompense.
We fled straight to the city and reported what occurred.
Expecting threats, recriminations, the outcome was absurd.

They offered us a soldier’s dream: retirement and gold.
Instead of twenty years, I’m free in ten and not so old!
We simply said we fell asleep and His disciples rolled
Away the stone and took Him off. They paid in Caesar’s gold.

So with a lie I saved my life, betrayed my soul, however.
When I denied I saw Him smile, His peace left me forever.