Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday

From Patrick, by Stephen Lawhead:

“The kings and kinglets fell to arguing then about what should be done if no answer could be found. They were still writhing in disputation when the sun soared high overhead. Suddenly ugly black clouds boiled up to cover the sky and the sound of a mighty wind filled all the world. And though it was bright midday, the heavens grew dark as twilight after the sun has set. Not the slightest breath of wind could be felt, yet the roaring of the unseen wind grew louder. There was thunder but no lightning, and the hair stood up on the necks of men and beasts alike. Clots of hail fell out of the sky and lay in the grass smoldering as if on fire.

“All at once they heard a voice crying out to them. They turned and saw, approaching out of the west in the direction of the setting sun, a mighty champion, fair and tall—taller than any three of the tallest warriors among them and more wonderful to look upon than the most handsome man they had ever seen. His eyes were the color of the windswept sky, and his teeth were straight and white. His chin was smooth-shaven, and his brow was high and fine.

“For a cloak the magnificent stranger wore a shining veil as radiant and rainbow-hued as crystal, and for sandals, hammered bands of purest gold. His hair was pale as flax and uncut, falling in curls to the middle of his back. This mighty champion carried two stone tablets in his left hand and a silver branch with three fruits in his right, and these were the fruits which were on the branch: apples, hazelnuts, and acorns. Around his waist he wore a girdle of bronze plates, and each plate could have served as a platter for four kings. In his girdle he carried a knife with a blade made of glass that was sharper than the sharpest steel.

“Around the stranger’s neck was a golden torc as thick as a baby’s arm, and on the ends were jewels: a ruby on the right and a sapphire on the left. His hands were broad and strong, and when he spoke, his voice sounded like the waves upon the shore or like the rushing of many waters.

“He came to stand before the assembled kings of Éire, and he said, ‘Greetings, friends—if friends you be.’ “The princes and princelings quailed before him, but High King Aedh drove his chariot to where the stranger stood. He raised his hand in kingly greeting and said, ‘I am king here, and this is my realm. I welcome you, champion—if champion you be. What has brought you here?’ “‘I have come from the setting of the sun, and I am going to the rising. My name is Trefuilngid Treochair,’ answered the stranger.

“‘A strange name,’ replied the king. ‘And why has that name been given you?’

“‘Easy to say,’ replied Trefuilngid, ‘because it is myself, and no one else, who upholds the sun, causing it to rise in the east and set in the west.’

“The high king regarded the towering stranger with curiosity. ‘Forgive me, friend, for asking,’ he said, ‘but why are you here at the setting of the sun when it is at the rising you must be?’

“‘Easy to say,’ answered the marvelous stranger, ‘but not so easy to hear, I think. For, in a land far away from here, a man was tortured today—and for that reason I am on my way to the east.’

“‘This tortured man,’ inquired the king, ‘of what account was he that one such as yourself should take notice?’

“‘You cut to the heart of the matter, to be sure,’ replied the stranger, ‘for the man of whom I speak was born to be the ruler of the world. He was called the Prince of Peace, Righteous Lord, and King of Kings.’

“At these words Lord Aedh and his noblemen groaned. ‘Certainly this is a grave injustice, and deeply to be lamented,’ observed the king, ‘yet such things are known to happen from time to time. Even so, it does not explain why you have come among us like this.’

“‘The man I speak of was crucified and killed by the men who tortured him,’ Trefuilngid explained. ‘His name was Esu, and he was the rightful High King of Heaven, Son of the Strong Upholder, Lord of Life and Light. When he died, the sun stepped aside, and darkness has covered the face of the earth. I came forth to find out what ailed the sun, learned of this outrage, and now I am telling you.’

“The king drew himself up and said, ‘I thank you for telling us, friend. But tell us, one thing more: Where can we find the vile cowards who perpetrated this injustice? Only say the word, and rest assured we will not cease until we have punished them with the death they undoubtedly deserve.’

“‘Your wrath is noble and worthy, friend,’ replied the magnificent stranger, ‘but it is misplaced. For in three days’ time the same man who was crucified will break the bonds of death and rise again to walk the world of the living. Through him death itself will be conquered forever.’

“When they heard this good news, the king and all the noblemen and bards of Éire wept for joy. They demanded to know how this had come about, and the glittering stranger told them, ‘It has been ordained from the foundation of the world. But it has been revealed to you now so that you may prepare your people for the age to come.’”

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