Words for Maundy Thursday

At the end of our Maundy Thursday service tonight, after the sacraments of foot washing and communion, we will conclude with this reflection on the story of Jesus’ arrest (Mark 14.32-52).

The Boy Mark

That night, lamp bright, in the upper room
I served him with meat and wine,
When he told the Twelve of his coming doom
Their grief was mine.

Unsleeping, weeping, I lay and listened
As they talked and the hours moved on;
Till the moon rose and the white roofs glistened
And the last man had gone.

Then catching, snatching a sheet about me,
Which doorways, walls concealed,
I tracked their swift shadows until they brought me
Here to the oil-press field.

Hidden, unbidden, among silvered trees
I tensed as he strode my way:
But a bough’s length distant he dropped on his knees
And parted his lips to pray.

These words I heard on the moonlit hill:
‘Father, hear thy son!
Remove this cup, and yet thy will
Not mine be done!’

Now, on his brow, great pearls of sweat
Glisten like drops of dew.
Silently, under Olivet,
My tears are falling too.

Three times he climbs from his lonely prayers
To Peter, James and John,
Sighs, and returns, and leaves as theirs
The ground they sleep upon.

Then a sound rebounds on the cool night air –
A cry from the Kedron bridge,
Torches, like hearthless fires, flare,
Winding towards the ridge.

I see, through my tree, where the leaves hang dumb
And moveless as the dead,
The dark, torch-blooded soldiers come,
With Judas at their head.

Proud, uncowed, he keeps his tryst
In the flarelight and the moon.
I know, too late, that he is the Christ
Too late, or else too soon.

No friend, at the end, to give him hope!
Then clutching my tangled sheet,
I fling myself wildly down the slope
And land at his friendless feet. . .

Yes, he smiled at the child, at the boy’s whim,
A smile in which love prevailed,
But I saw the men who surrounded him,
And my courage failed

At the jeering, sneering, flickering sight,
And here where this cypress is,
I left my robe in their hands that night,
And my soul in his.

Author unknown

Image: ‘The arrest of Christ’ by Bosch  (c1530)

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