In early 2022, I spent time reflecting on the ‘I ams’ of Jesus. I was struck most profoundly by the One who called himself ‘the Light of the World’ succumbing to enveloping darkness. That profound juxtaposition has stuck with me. It recently re-emerged whilst I was reflecting on Jesus’ great cries from the cross as part of a project writing prayers in response to the events of Good Friday.
The gospel of Matthew includes details about supernatural darkness, the Saviour’s silence and the eventual return of the light (Matt. 27:45-46). This makes the cry ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ even more powerful in my eyes. The darkness reigned whilst Christ was silent, but at the sound of his voice, light returned once more.
The following prayer is inspired by Matthew 27:45-46 and is my attempt to wrestle with the magnitude of what Jesus endured for our sake and to gently call us into a place where we desire his light and life to be experienced more and more.
Prayers from the cross
‘Why Have You Forsaken Me?’
Before you spoke there was darkness
Without you, there is not
No life, no joy, no light.
Yet into that darkness, you spoke and there was.
First light, then – everything
And in your light life and joy.
But we chose something else
We chose to turn from you
To cling to the shadows.
Life in the dark is difficult
Life in the dark is hard
Life in the dark is not what You desire.
So, you came
Not just speaking into the darkness
But walking …
The Light of the World stepped down
Into the darkness we have created.
The Light shone – but we did not recognise it.
And darkness schemed, darkness conspired
To extinguish the Light so that death might reign.
In darkness you hung
Creation in mourning for its Creator
The weight of our rejection on your shoulders.
In darkness you hung
For three hours darkness filled the air.
And when you spoke it was not calling out the light
When you spoke it was despair at what darkness had brought.
But despair is not the end
Darkness does not have the final word
Even then the light returned.
At the very sound of your voice death and darkness fled
And life and light came forth
The shadows receded and your glory shone.
We had chosen death
But you were bringing life.
But you reconciled.
You who knew no sin
So that we could be
The Righteousness of God.
We still know darkness
Around us and in us.
Speak again O Lord
Make it flee wherever it is found.