In the Wilderness
The night before the journey they ate their lamb
With bitter herbs, unleavened bread and wine.
They wore their coats, ready to go,
And when permission came they set off.
They had no idea where they were going,
Or how they would get there.
They had obeyed the commands to paint
Their doorposts with blood
And they packed what they could carry.
They travelled to the wilderness,
And grumbled at the lack of food and water
Until God fed them.
Jesus, newly baptised by John, went alone
Into the wilderness to meditate before his ministry began.
For forty days and nights he was there,
Burning hot by day, shivering by night,
Lonely and wrestling with his own thoughts
And the temptations they offered.
Having resisted the tempting
He left the desert and set to work.
The day before they left home
They had all been together,
Husbands, wives, children, babies,
Eating and talking as usual.
Then the sirens sounded; they went underground
Where children wailed and women hid their tears,
And husbands urged them to pack up and go.
The blood was not on doorposts now,
But spilled into Ukrainian soil.
They queued and walked and squashed into trains
Until, reaching the border
Through the wastes of no man’s land
They turned to look back longingly at home
Before a volunteer took them,
Hugged them, fed them and sheltered them
So that they could begin again.
And the God of the Hebrews who led them
With pillars of cloud and fire,
The God who is the father of Jesus Christ
Was with them, and us
And as we weep for what is happening
So God too weeps and wonders how far we have not come
Over the last two thousand years.
Revd Barbara Bennett