Lent Poetry: I Am Israel on the Day of Atonement

During Lent last year I preached a series called Shadows of the Cross: Jesus in the Pentateuch. For Good Friday I wrote 5 poems/readings based off the sermons in the series. For Holy Week, I thought I’d share one with you each day.

I am Israel on the Day of Atonement.
I am sin. Unclean. Afflicted.
No work today. No food today. Nothing today. Just watching. Waiting. Hoping.

I am Israel. Watching blood spilled and sacrifice made.

I am Israel, watching Aaron throw the dice. One to for Yahweh. One for the wilderness.
I am Israel, watching Aaron bring out the goat.

He lays both his hands upon its head.
He begins to speak. Speak unspeakable things.
He confesses sin. Our sin. My sin. My unspeakable acts. My crimes against the Holy One.

Pride. Anger. Laziness. Greed. Lust. Arrogance. Worry. Lies. Doubt. Gossip. Bitterness. Hatred.
Unspeakable things.
Selfishly hording my possessions, all of which came from God.
Harsh and cruel words to God’s precious children.
Showing reverence to no one. Demanding respect from everyone.
Pride, pride and more pride. It’s always all about me.

As Aaron lays his hands on the goat, my ears hurt from hearing such horrible words. So much pain, so much shame, so much … so much truth. Painful, bare, brutal truth.

Then the most marvelous thing. The goat is lead away. Out from the crowd. Down the way. Through the camp. Out the gate. And away.
I climb up high to watch it go.

Bearing more filth and shame and sin and evil than any one could be blamed for.
Carrying the junk of us all out and away.
Further now. And further. I watch my sin and shame walking away. Further and further. Almost out of sight.

Squinting and straining. Out of sight. Gone forever. Me and my sin, separated. A joyful divorce.
My sin walked into the wilderness, condemned by God, cut off from life, left to die alone.

The Goat is Gone, never to return.
But tomorrow, I’m afraid, tomorrow I’ll need another goat.
The goat is gone, but I’m still here. And I, it seems, am the problem.

I am Israel… I am unspeakable sin.
I am Israel… I am watching my substitute walk into the horizon.
I am Israel… I am waiting and hoping that God will provide another goat. Another way.
I am Israel… and I’m waiting for Jesus.

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