Title: Christ the Life of All the Living
Text: Ernst C. Homburg, 1659; tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1863
Tune: JESU, MEINES LEBENS LEBEN Darnstadt, 1687
From Lift Up Your Hearts, 2013
In case you thought that Lent was a season of doom and gloom, this hymn reminds that it is profound gratitude and joy that should flow from our lives if we have been received the “full and free” atonement that only comes from Christ.
I’m not very long-winded today. I may have spent all of my wind on the harmonica on this track. Just click the link below, listen to the words, and reflect on all of the reasons you have to be thankful. Make a list – a thousand thousand would be a good number to shoot for! I think I’ll get started now…
Monthly Archives: March 2014
Title: Christ the Life of All the Living
Text: James Gertmenian, 1993 Hope Publishing Company
From: Lift Up Your Hearts, 2013
Sometimes in the midst of a journey, I need to be reminded of the destination. Right now I am 7 months pregnant with our second child. I’m feeling kind of slow and tired and 2 more months feels like a really long time. But just as I was complaining to myself today, I found ultrasound pictures of the little peanut in a drawer and I remembered that there something so much better coming that will make me forget the discomfort and impatience I’m feeling right now.
We are a week and a half into Lent. Have you forgotten about your commitments yet? Have you missed a couple days of fasting or prayer or Bible reading? Are you feeling a little guilty about it? Maybe you’re like me and you need a reminder of where we’re headed to keep you motivated.
This week’s hymn has six neatly packaged verses that remind us that no matter how difficult the journey becomes, the destination is secure. We can learn so much from Jesus’ journey on earth. He endured temptation, ridicule, betrayal and death. His example can give us courage as we travel along in life. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.”
This week, I admit that I didn’t want to post anything. I’m feeling kind of lazy and unmotivated about lots of things these days. It is not unusual for me to begin strong on a journey, but lose motivation as time goes by. But friends, let’s not lose sight of where we’re headed.
Not only did Christ rise from the dead on Easter, but he is coming again. Wherever you are on the Lenten journey or the journey of life in general, the ending has been secured by Christ. I needed the reminders contained in these verses. Maybe you do too.
Throughout these Lenten days and nights we turn to walk the inward way
Text: Isaac Watts
Tune and refrain: Rachel Henkle, 2014
I still clearly remember the night I watched the movie The Passion of the Christ. I had always understood that Lent was a time for attending soup suppers and mid-week services at church. We went to a Good Friday service every year where the story of Christ’s death was depicted in a dramatic fashion – complete with a high school student posing on a wooden cross in the choir loft with other students acting the part of the Roman soldiers, driving in the nails with a very realistic sounding sound effect track to accompany. I always felt melancholy and sad – someone had died and we were there to commemorate that death.
But for some reason, after watching the Passion movie, it sunk in – maybe for the first time – someone went through that agony for me. And not just someone – the Son of God who never sinned and did not deserve any part of the punishment he received. And it was for me and my sin.
I’ve been thinking about this lately. The hymn I chose for this first week of Lent poses several questions. Did the Savior bleed and die for me? Would he really do that for sinners? Was it because of things that I have done that he had to go to the cross? For me, personalizing the price of sin can be difficult. I have always gone to church. I try hard to be a good person, do good things. I forget very quickly that it is only because of God’s relentless grace that I have any capacity for good. I want to take credit for being the halfway decent person that I am.
Maybe a temptation during Lent is to rely on our own will power to help us through – especially if we have given something up. When we want to reach for that can of soda or turn on the TV, we muster up some self-control and say no instead. And we feel good about ourselves. But we shouldn’t necessarily give things up so we can feel better about ourselves. Rather it is in turning away from things that distract us that we can turn to Christ and discover just how deeply we actually need him.
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?
Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
Text: Rae E. Whitney
Are Christians known as people of contrition and repentance? Or do we feel like we have to be right about everything? Confessing our sins takes humility and honesty. Doing so in public takes even more courage. Tonight, most of the churches in our small community are joining together for an Ash Wednesday service and this hymn is in the order of worship: Sunday’s Palms are Wednesday’s Ashes. It’s a confession – and a public one at that. I think it would be amazing if the distinguishing mark of Christians in our community was the cross of ashes. We live in light of the forgiveness that Jesus afforded us on the cross, so admitting we’re sinful does not jeopardize our reputation, it shines light on the greatness of Christ!
The very palm branches that are used to remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem the week he was crucified on the cross are burned to make the ashes that form the crosses on our foreheads tonight. You can read Luke’s account about the first Palm Sunday here. Even though the people worshiped and welcomed Jesus with great honor and celebration that day, they could never have guessed that before Jesus could be exalted, he had to first die the death of a criminal on a cross. As we joyfully anticipate Easter this year, let us not forget that our sins made it necessary for Jesus to go to the cross.
This hymn is personal – we have personally offended both God and our neighbor in many ways. It is also corporate – we kneel… our sins… grant us pardon. We do not simply confess and repent in isolation, but in community with our brothers and sisters in Christ. This corporate confession does two things. First, we admit our sin in front of everyone, no longer trying to hide it or explain it away. Second, we look around and realize that we are not alone. Everyone in our family, our church, our community and our world is a also sinner in need of a Savior. Instead of guilt and shame, we can leave our Ash Wednesday repentance with the confidence that it is not our own merit, but God’s grace that covers whatever we confess.
Take a moment to listen to these words and turn them into your own humble, honest prayer. Is there anything that resonates with you as something you must confess? Would you add anything to this list? I pray this season will be filled with glimpses of God’s glory and grace and a deeper sense of gratitude and love for Him.
Lent begins on Wednesday. Even though I don’t always keep up with the church calendar, the idea of Lent has always appealed to me. Easter is supposed to be the most important celebration of the church year. Jesus was raised from the dead! That news is amazing in itself, but Lent allows a period of 40 days to truly ponder the depth of our own sin and our need for a Savior. It can help us come to the foot of the cross, lay down those sins, and come face to face with the One who not only died for us, but was raised from the tomb and who lives and reigns today.
Over the years, I’ve had one of two responses to this season. The first is to begin it with the best of intentions. I attend an Ash Wednesday service, and leave with a gray cross on my forehead and a commitment to give up dessert, read extra Bible passages and take time to truly reflect on the coming celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ. The way this turns out… well let’s just say I really like dessert, I misplace my Bible sometime around the second Sunday, and my time of reflection gets replaced by preparing for extra worship services along with all the other things on my to-do list. My second response is to remember that I rarely follow through on my resolutions anyway, so I don’t even try. It’s very similar to my love-hate relationship with new year’s resolutions I wrote about a couple months ago.
A couple questions to start the discussion –
How have you observed Lent in the past (if at all)?
How has this impacted your relationship with Jesus?
How do you plan to spend the season of Lent this year?