One of the great joys of my working week is that there is a group of ministers of local churches who meet together each Tuesday, to read through the Scripture texts set for the coming Sunday, and reflect together on their meaning, as part of our sermon preparation. Our sharing often goes beyond the boundaries of the texts themselves as we wrestle with the issues faced by our congregations and our society, and support one another in our common work.
This week, as we considered the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to his disciples, we touched also on the fact that the centennial ANZAC day is not far away, and already there is much propaganda from many points of view cluttering our social discourse. In that context, one of my colleagues remembered this poem and shared it with the rest of us. Its author, Hermann Hagedorn, had seen action in the trenches of the first world war, and sought to reflect on that experience in the light of his Christian faith. It is, I think, an extraordinarily beautiful vision, and so I felt moved to share it here with a wider audience. I would be fascinated to read how others find it!
Resurrection, by Hermann Hagedorn
Not long did we lie on the torn, red field of pain.
We fell, we lay, we slumbered, we took rest,
With the wild nerves quiet at last, and the vexed brain
Cleared of the wingèd nightmares, and the breast
Freed of the heavy dreams of hearts afar. 5
We rose at last under the morning star.
We rose, and greeted our brothers, and welcomed our foes.
We rose; like the wheat when the wind is over, we rose.
With shouts we rose, with gasps and incredulous cries,
With bursts of singing, and silence, and awestruck eyes, 10
With broken laughter, half tears, we rose from the sod,
With welling tears and with glad lips, whispering, “God.”
Like babes, refreshed from sleep, like children, we rose,
Brimming with deep content, from our dreamless repose.
And, “What do you call it?” asked one. “I thought I was dead.” 15
“You are,” cried another. “We’re all of us dead and flat.”
“I’m alive as a cricket. There’s something wrong with your head.”
They stretched their limbs and argued it out where they sat.
And over the wide field friend and foe
Spoke of small things, remembering not old woe 20
Of war and hunger, hatred and fierce words.
They sat and listened to the brooks and birds,
And watched the starlight perish in pale flame,
Wondering what God would look like when He came.