If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. I Cor. 15:9-22
From Jan Bienkowski’s beautiful illustrated book, Easter.
Bread of the world, in mercy broken!
Wine of the soul, in mercy shed!
By whom the words of life were spoken,
And in whose death our sins are dead!
Look on the heart by sorrow broken,
Look on the tears by sinners shed,
And be thy feast to us the token
That by thy grace our souls are fed!
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down,
Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting-place,
And He has made me glad.
Here are the other verses, not here included:
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream.
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.
3. I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world’s Light.
Look unto Me; thy morn shall rise
And all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that Light of Life I’ll walk
Till traveling days are done.
This joyful Eastertide,
Away with sin and sorrow!
My love, the Crucified,
Hath sprung to life this morrow.
Had Christ, that once was slain,
Ne’er burst his three-day prison
Our faith had been in vain:
But now hath Christ arisen, arisen, arisen!
My flesh in hope shall rest,
And for a season slumber:
Till trump from east to west
Shall wake the dead in number.
Death’s flood hath lost his chill,
Since Jesus crossed the river:
Lover of souls, from ill
My passing soul deliver.
Our choir will sing this Dutch carol tomorrow.
Like many others, my church held a Tenebrae service last evening. It was a somber service, accented by growing darkness, as we remembered the final events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. Calvin College’s resource library provides a good guide for Tenebrae observance (which influenced our service). From their site:
Written by William Cowper in 1772, in many hymnbooks known as “There is a Fountain.” The three verses sung here:
At least since early January I have been focused on The Lamb of God. I have known what that means, and Who that is for most of my life, but it became especially real when, during his difficult and prolonged hospitalization, my brother William, one very challenging night, after I had read several specifically requested scriptures to him, fighting for breath, said to me, “You know, the focus of Heaven will be the Lamb of God.” To share that desperate time, from our physical perspective, with someone who clings to the Lamb is awe inspiring and affirming: truly a witness.
From my pastor, Jeff Garrison’s sermon today, on the perfect Lamb of God, our Savior, Jesus the Christ:
Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt was a German pastor and theologian in the early decades of the twentieth century. He isn’t well known, but had a great influence on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth (who are better known). In one of his sermons, which has been collected in a book titled Action in Waiting, he says:
We do not gain much by just accepting that Christ died and rose again. Many people believe this, but nevertheless go to hell. This belief is of no help unless you and I experience Jesus as Lord. It is not the worst if some people are unable to believe that Christ rose from the dead – at least they still regard it as something tremendous, too tremendous to glibly confess. The sad thing is that so many people today claim to believe it, and yet it means so little to them. It has no effect in their lives.
Yesterday the Christian Church celebrated Ascension Day, forty days after Easter, the day our Lord ascended to Heaven.
Salute the last, and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sun, and Son,
Ye whose true tears, or tribulation
Have purely wash’d, or burnt your drossy clay.
Behold, the Highest, parting hence away,
Lightens the dark clouds, which He treads upon;
Nor doth he by ascending show alone,
But first He, and He first enters the way.
O strong Ram, which hast batter’d heaven for me!
Mild lamb, which with Thy Blood hast mark’d the path!
Bright Torch, which shinest, that I the way may see!
O, with Thy own Blood quench Thy own just wrath;
And if Thy Holy Spirit my Muse did raise,
Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.
| Latin text
Coelos ascendit hodie
| English translation
Today into the heavens has ascended