Stanley Hauerwas, Cross-Shattered Christ; Meditations on the Seven Last Words (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2004), 108pp.
Here is a little book by one of our best theologians that makes for ideal reading at Lent. You could read it with great profit for personal meditations or in a church class. After a brief introduction, Hauerwas devotes one chapter each to the seven last words of Christ: (1) "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (2) "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (3) "Woman, behold thy son!" ... "Behold thy mother!" (4) "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (5) "I thirst." (6) "It is finished." (7) "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Each chapter is quite short at 6–8 pages, and is accompanied by wood block printings by Rick Beerhorst.
Hauerwas takes the title for his book from a poem called "Mercy" in Manhandling the Deity by John F. Deane, part of which reads:
Unholy we sang this morning, and prayed
as if we were not broken, crooked
the Christ-figure hung, splayed
on bloodied beams above us;
devious God, dweller in shadows,
mercy on us;
immortal, cross-shattered Christ—
your gentling grace down upon us.
The paschal mystery, says Hauerwas, is not an insoluble puzzle but a reality that we can love and embrace, even while it subverts all we think we know. We do not "possess" this truth in a self-serving manner, contrary to the ways we often think and act, but ought to beg God to be transformed by the truth of Good Friday. Repenting of our many presumptions, as we approach the foot of the cross we realize that our lives "can never return to normal."