Chesed

A poetic biblical reflection and prayer, based on John 8.2-11 and Deuteronomy 22.23-24, on chesed, the loving-kindness of God.

They, the rulers of the people,
the men,
brought her (but not the man!), the troubled
nameless
adulteress
(for the sake of her crime
she needn’t have a name,
for hence
she would be known only by her sin)
to Jesus.

They, the guardians of their Deuteronomic code
who would to death stone her (but not the man!)
in faithful fulfillment
of sacred commandment,
asked Jesus, “What do you say?”
seeking him to discredit
should he dare,
in violation of their law,
answer otherwise
and, in suchwise,
adulterate their truth.

Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (1565), Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569)

Yet he,
on bended knee,
did linger
and with a finger
scribbled e’en more sacred signs
in the sand,
and looking
up, saying,
“Anyone without sin, thus, with nothing for which to atone,
let ye cast the first stone.”

Again, bent he down,
writing on the ground
(What? Perhaps their sins,
which they, in their mendacity,
would hide,
as evidence of the hypocrisy
of the plenty
of their bigotry
and, worse, the paucity
of their mercy.)

Away
they,
though the rulers of the people,
of kindness doubtful,
but, now revealed, with sins bountiful,
strayed;
returning to their formerly blind safety,
yea, now, with their eyes opened, the evermore uncertain security
of their alway glass-walled houses.

“Hath any,” Jesus asked, “thou condemned?”
“No, Lord,” she spake.
“Do I condemn thee? No!
Now, go
and sin no more.”

+

Receiving,
indeed,
the loving-kindness
of God
from God
in flesh,
she,
in deed
lived,
moved,
and had her being
set free
in the righteousness
of her thanksgiving.

+

O Lord Jesus, write, too, my sins in the sands of earth’s temporality,
that I may know and confess
afresh
who I am;
then, by the chesed of Your saving death, erase them for eternity
that I may know and profess
who I am in You.

Amen.

 

 

Illustration: Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (1565), Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569)

2 thoughts on “Chesed

  1. Wow, that poem was amazing Paul!! I love that writing our sins in the sand is temporary and then they get washed away forever!! I wish that I could write my worries in the sand too so that they could wash away and I not focus on them. The only concern I have about writing our sins in the sand is does that make us more vulnerable to doing them again since they’ve washed away and we have no reminder? Maybe I write down too many things in my journal cause there’s always a record… I can go back and review the good and the bad, particularly about this crazy disease dementia. There are times it probably wouldn’t be so bad if I washed some of the events away.

    much love!

    Like

  2. Loretta, here, I perceive (and pray that there is!) a profound difference between what I write and what Jesus writes. If…when I write (or recall or reflect on) my sins, yes, that is an act of remembrance that often is self-punishing. I cringe within when I reminisce about things I’ve said and done that I ought not to have said and done and things I’ve not said and done that I ought to have said and done. Yet when Jesus does the writing (or the reflecting on or recording and reminding me) of my sins, it is an act of preparing to wash them away through the cleansing blood of his efficacious death. In this I have come to trust. At a deeper level of perceiving and knowing, I have come to see that when I clutch my sins to my breast it is an act of mistrust in the saving work of Jesus…and, worse, it is an act of my claiming to be god-for-my-self as if there is something more that I can do with my misdeeds of commission and omission than God-in-Christ already has done. Having acknowledged all this, still, yes, there are moments when I fall prey to that temptation. I suspect it will not be until I am free from this life in the flesh that I can and will embrace wholly my redemption in Christ. Love, Paul

    Liked by 1 person

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