Your Agreement Has Been Terminated

The way I see it:

God promised to give Adam, Eve, and their descendants over to death. Why? Because they broke the covenant: all transgressors must die. In a sense, God almost had an “agreement” with death. The guilty die.

But Death got greedy. He overstepped the terms of the agreement. He tried to take the only person in the history of the whole world who had not actually broken the covenant: he tried to take the one person to whom he had no right. Christ. And Death was swallowed up by the victory that he tried to conquer. The covenant with Death was broken, and God began to work things backwards. Now Death has no hold on any of us, because Death tried to hold onto Christ. And because we hold to Christ, Death has no power over us.

 

The grave is empty.

 

Happy Easter.

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Eater

Friends: let me show you something about the way the world works. We get grossed out at something that eats death. Bacteria putrefying that corpse. Mold feeding on the dead fruit. But in reality, none of us are any different. We all feed off dead things. Every single day of your life, you were either eating something dead, or you were dead. Even if you’re fasting, you’re still eating yourself. We always eat, and whatever we eat is dead. Something else always has to die for us to live. This is why the table is one of the centers of the home. We gather around it for a spiritual realization of a physical need: we are all dying, and we stave that off three times a day together. That kind of thing bonds people.

But let me show you something else about the way the world works. There is one food that isn’t dead. There is one table where death is staved off forever with a single mouthful. There is one cup where the desert of our thirst is swamped with the kind of water that turns into wine. One washing where we are cleansed from the filth of our previous meals of death. Here we eat Christ, and here we eat a food that won’t stay dead. Here we eat a food that turns us into itself. We are what we eat, and when we ate dead things, we were dead. Now we eat a living thing, and none of us will ever die again.

And though we partake of him, Christ was the one meal that Death could not digest. Death gnawed on the gristle a bit, stabbed at him with a fork that pierced him with its four tines, and swallowed. As a teacher of mine said, “If you eat a hero, be sure to chew him up first, and don’t just send him down directly.” Death, that ancient emptiness, was killed from the inside out, filled. Death’s eyes were bigger than its stomach, and Death, in eating the meal that satisfies all and forever, lost his appetite. He can no longer devour us, the solid, the filled, the living.

Eat up.

 

And Happy Easter.

Good Friday

Here is Death’s sting:

On a cross and nails

An immortal man is dying.

And the misery that echoes in his tears

Sets the devils to dancing.

The red sun fails,

And limitless night swallows the sky.

And under the weight of the sinking soul

The earth trembles.

When God is dead,

When blood and baptism

Are speared from a tortured saviour

Then I hide from hearing a mother’s grief,

Wailing from the foot of that bloody hill.

I have Macbeth’s hands,

And the blood of my king

Soaks my guilty deeds.

How can I live

When I killed the only man

Who would give his life for me?

Good Little Governments

Good Little Governments

Nato is requesting that cyber warriors refrain from attacking hospitals and nuclear power plants. In a similar bid, the U.S. Army is requesting terrorists to “stop shooting soldiers in critical body parts.” One General, who asked to remain anonymous, talked to our reporters. “It had to be done. I mean, if we don’t make rules like this, someone might, you know, get hurt.” 
And now, in government news, Obama is implementing a defense policy whose first strategy is “asking them nicely to stop. And saying please.”

Scriptorium Trials

The scriptorium* was white with the noise of monk-powered quills scratching over yellow-white sheets of vellum.

“Put those books – gently – on that table there” whispered Bertram. “And don’t – I SAID DON’T – I mean I said don’t you dare bang them down, those are works of ART I mean art, you witless clods.”

The novices scurried away, leaving Bertram smiling apologetically at the frowning copyists. He turned to the stacks of books facing him and pulled up one of the nearby stools. He began to read, determining both the quality and content of the books. Muttering under his breath, he slowly worked his way through the stacks, sorting them into two piles. One of the piles he would take with him as Alnwick’s contribution to the book-circulation enterprise, and the others would be filed away again. Into the books in the first pile he placed small scraps of cloth, all of various colors. Each color represented a particular abbey, who had specifically requested certain books for copying. He checked these books against a sheet of paper that he kept carefully folded up in water-proof leather pouch, that detailed the requests from various abbeys. Once he gave them their books, he would take what he could from their libraries and bring them to the next abbey, and so on throughout England.

He felt a light, hesitant tap on his shoulder. He turned and saw a small, aging monk standing behind him, nervously stepping from foot to foot.

“I beg your pardon,” he breathed pianissimo, “but you’ve got my stool.”

Bertram quickly stood up, pushed the stool towards the monk, and took another from a nearby desk. He hated interruptions.

The tap revisited his shoulder, even lighter than before. He turned irritably.

“I’m so sorry,” exhaled the old brother, “but you’ve got my pen.”

Muttering, he handed over the pen, and sharpened up another from a pot on the next desk.

The monk’s finger tapped his shoulder again, so softly that it was barely discernible through his tunic. He spun around, eyes blazing, grimly silent. This had better be good.

“I do apologize,” the relic whispered as quiet as a moth, “but you’ve got my desk.”

It was a credit to Bertram’s self-control that he did not explode, but the quiet of the scriptorium was too sacred to disturb. He forced a smile and began carrying his stacks of books over to the nearest desk. It took a while. Finally, he went to sit down. There wasn’t any stool or pen.

Several birds perched on the roof flew off in terror as a long-suppressed yell worked its way out. A few seconds later, Bertram came stalking out of the scriptorium. Let the monks rebuild their shattered quietude with more book-copying: he, on the other hand, was going for a walk.

 

*A Scriptorium was a place in an abbey where monks copied and illuminated manuscripts.

“Manuscript” Manuscript Ch.1 Rough Draft

The grey skies were awash with rain over the English road. Streams slunk through the muddy ruts, and splashed under the wooden wagon wheels of a solitary cart that wound its way up the long hill to the abbey. A single man walked beside the weary cart-horse. The monk turned away from the window. It had been a year since Bertram had last come to the abbey, and every year to the day he was faithful in returning. Brother Mark hurried down to the gate, where Brother Obadiah was already opening the modest wooden bars. The cart creaked through slowly. It was clear that their guest was tired out from the cold rain and soft roads. Under the long brown hood, his face was barely visible. “You, you, and you,” he said, pointing at three watching novices. “Get the cart into the stable, and don’t you dare take any of the wraps off until I get there.”
The novices hurried off with the horse and cart, cases jolting under the heavy leather and cloth tarps that swathed the entire contents of the cart. “Slower!” he called after them, and turned to Brother Mark.

“Is all well here, Brother?”

“All is well. As usual, you arrive on time, and as cantankerous as ever.”

“Bah! What’s wrong with my temper? It’s these fool novices of yours. No idea how to treat precious cargo.” He snorted. “It’s a good thing I take a year between visits. I can only take so much of you celibate ink-dribblers.”

Together they turned and headed for the main hall.

“Father Abbot had been expecting you. He’s particularly interested in this new book about the history of the church in England. Do you have it?”

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