life again

Heather wrote a reading for the Easter service, called "Life Again." Here's an excerpt:

You know, I am sure, what happened in Jerusalem that year. Maybe you have heard that a great prophet came to Jerusalem, and was acclaimed with hosannas and palm branches, and that the Sanhedrin and the Romans conspired against him and killed him. Maybe you have heard that a rabble-rouser came, and all the poor and landless flocked to him and hailed him as king, and something had to be done. Though maybe it should have been done more quietly. I have heard heard that some of them thought that, afterwards.

We had followed him there, from Galilee. We were the poor and landless. I had farmed another man's land ever since I was old enough to put my hand to my plow; it was my father who got into debt and had to sell our farm. No fault of his. Three bad harvests, in a row. Three years just like this one was promising to be: thirsty, dusty, empty of the new life we were hoping for so hard.

And so we lost our land, although we lived on it and farmed it still. I married; my father died; I farmed. Every year struggling hard to meet the rent; every year hoping, trying, working from dawn to sundown with hardly a pause, hoping to keep enough back so that in three years, five years, ten years we could buy it back. Every year the hopes withering a little more, even as our hopes for a child withered also. After the last harvest was all gathered in and the storms began, I would calculate how much we could keep back. And then I would calculate whether we could make the rent at all. And then I would walk out into the field, in the rain, so that my wife would not have to see me crying. I didn't go there to cry; I went to pray; but I couldn't. I could only hear in my mind a line from the prophet Jeremiah, over and over again till I wept: “The harvest is over, the summer is gone, and we are not saved.”

So when I heard of this man Jesus, I had very little to lose. Very little. That year my wife fell ill, terribly ill, till it seemed certain she would die. When Jesus came to our town I came out to him and pushed through the crowds that were around him, the people begging him to heal their sick, and when I finally reached him I begged too. He came into my house. I couldn't carry her―she was hot with fever and gasping for breath―and so he walked with me and actually came into my little house, and he put his hand on her head, and for a moment he closed his eyes, and in his face I saw such weariness. It was as if all our hopeless, grinding struggle, all the years we had worked and worked and not been saved, were on his shoulders and in his face, and I felt a stab of fear, and thought: he cannot save her...

The whole reading appears here: "Life Again"