Father Forgive Them…A Poem for Good Friday

El Greco, Christ on the Cross (1588)

El Greco, Christ on the Cross (1588)

Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing
Your people chose to listen to the voices that fill the air of this noisy world
The calls of the gods of violence and might they have answered
And in the kiln of conflict the green wood is drying awaiting the spark
Of these angry gods of war and rebellion that are never satiated
Though rivers of blood and the screams of the innocent stream out
Poured out as a libation making the profane sacred and the sacred profane
In the days to come they will cry to the hills to cover them in their terror
Calling the barren blessed and the ones lost in natural disasters lucky
Because of the wrath of their gods that rejoice in the conflict of the nations

Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing
Dividing the world into the righteous and unrighteous, the holy and the mundane
Those who are blessed and those who are cursed, offering to gods of privilege
Those who can be excluded and kept out by their blood and their birth
By the language they speak, the hue of skin or hair, who they love or how they act
They bear the projected fear of the mob by sickness or disease or demonization
Confined to the outskirts of the city, to the graveyards, the asylums and prisons
They are prevented from having a place at the table and the temple
The very outcasts that I once rescued from their sojourn as pariahs
The poor who received good news and the captives that were set free
Now instead of the favor of the Lord receiving the scorn of these tribal gods

Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing
They may be full and laughing and rich now but they live in spiritual destitution
The concerns of the world and the lure of wealth have choked the seed
God’s kingdom came among them and they never saw it snatched away
They have offered their lives to the cruel gods of mammon and security
Offering their lives in to quench the unending thirst for acquisition
Joining house to house, starving the widows and the orphans and yet
Their appetites only yearn to consume more for that is what they are
They are consumers whose lives are built upon the things that in turn consume
I have yearned to gather them together under my wings as a hen
But they would not come for their lives were built around shrines of their own making
Fouling their own nests and poisoning the waters of their children
In their hunger to feed these insatiable gods that delight in their indentured servitude

Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing
Their fathers and mothers didn’t have ears to hear the prophets you sent
And they have not the eyes to see the Son in their midst, and so they cast me out
They rejected the cornerstone and crafted idols of stone and ideology to offer their lives to
Instead of peace they chose war, instead of love they chose hate
They believe they have never been slaves to anyone as they ignore their yoke
Locked into the world of their fears and isolation, cursing what they do not know
They mock me to ‘save myself’ but it is their lives I cry out to save
It is their world that has the sun blotted out; their veils which are torn in two
They and their children will bear the burden of appeasing the gods they chose
Conflict and alienation and slavery may be the path that they have chosen for their own
Yet, Father it is you who pull light from darkness and life from the maw of death
Whose rejected kingdom is at hand and who breathes the life into the new creation
It is into your hand that I commend my spirit and their shattered world as well
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give unto the righteous and the unrighteous their daily bread
And forgive them their trespasses for they do not know what they are doing

Neil White, 2015

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