". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

See You at the Party

In addition to the Tenebrae, our congregation has an afternoon Good Friday service. It is not technically a Tre Ore ("Three Hours") service because it does not start at noon and end at 3:00. It is also not three hours long, but it does have many of the elements of the Tre Ore (the reading of the Passion narrative, and the Bidding Prayer, for example). The service is held at 4:00 p.m.; from 12:00 until 3:00 our pastors are available for individual Confession and Absolution.

I normally attend the Tenebrae rather than the afternoon service because that's where I am needed to serve as a musician. And although I might personally choose to attend both services, asking young children to do so is pressing my luck. So I have not always attended the afternoon service. But yesterday I did, and now I don't think I will ever want to miss it again (and since my last baby is now 5 years old, I don't think I'll have to). I don't know why--maybe I am just finally growing up--but I have never been more engaged in the reading of the Passion than I was yesterday afternoon. It was broken into segments and interspersed with stanzas of "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded" and was followed by a homily during which Pastor pointed us to the various parts of Jesus' body and how they received the punishment that should have been ours. Then we sang, "Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted," the final two stanzas of which speak Law and Gospel as clearly as anything I can think of:

Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
'Tis the Word, the Lord's anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost:
Christ the Rock of our salvation,
Is the name of which we boast;
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.

By the end of the hymn I felt as though I could look Satan himself in the eye and without flinching tell the old buzzard to "Get lost! I have Jesus on my side!"

Of course I couldn't have. Not of my own power, anyway. And neither can you. But we who wear the name of Jesus may boast indeed, because it is He who stands between us and Satan and who in our stead 2000 years ago told Satan to "Get lost!" And He continues to do so today and every day in a million different ways, each time we flee to Him who is our refuge.

It is finished. The battle is won. I'm going to the victory celebration.

Are you?

1 comment:

Elephantschild said...

Meet you at the Communion rail!