Paper cut-out of a tomb with the stone rolled away, against a brown background with light seeping through from above. Text: A question, not a criticism (a poem reflecting on the resurrection accounts) Faith in Grey Places

A question, not a criticism (a poem reflecting on the resurrection accounts)

Jesus’s resurrection is the best surprise ending ever. It’s so good, so fitting, so unexpected, so inevitable, so awe-inspiring, so triumphant, so impossible to make up.

The accounts of the resurrection are in Matthew 28:1-15,  Mark 16, Luke 24:1-49 and John 20:1-23.

As I read through them this week I was struck by the number of questions that Jesus and the angels ask Jesus’s followers. The most famous is “Woman, why are you weeping?” when Jesus meets Mary Magdalene but she doesn’t recognise him. But there are several others.

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It’s so easy to take these questions as criticisms, but I don’t believe that was their purpose. I find that God often asks questions to help us exercise our own agency: tease out assumptions, process new possibilities, give voice to things that are important to us. 

At work, I sometimes say to people, “This is a question, not a criticism…” For example, when I’m asking someone why they did or thought something that now looks like it was a bad idea, or when the question might feel like I’m rubbing how I know more about a subject than they do. The truth is, I’m asking because I don’t know the answer; I might be able to guess, but it’s a situation where guessing or telling aren’t the best way forward. But asking the question in a gentle way levels the playing field and gives people voice.

I think the questions in the stories of Jesus’s resurrection are similar.  

So my poem this week is titled “A question, not a criticism.”


A question, not a criticism

Why are you crying?
That’s a question, not a criticism,
One to legitimise your tears,
To observe where you’re at,
To give you your voice,
And to open the ears of your listeners. 

Why are you searching?
That’s a question, not a criticism,
Not one to stigmatise your confusion,
But to greet you wherever you are,
To recall your memories afresh,
And to open the minds of your friends.

What are you talking about?
That’s a question, not a criticism,
One to legitimise your longings,
To walk with you as you come to understand,
To nourish you with the very words of God,
And to open the eyes of your companions.

Why do you have doubts and fears?
That’s a question, not a criticism,
Not one to stigmatise your amazement,
But to hold you as you reach out to me,
To show you that, truly, I am alive,
And to open your hearts to my Spirit.


All poems in this series can be found via the tag Easter2021.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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