“Thy kingdom come!” on bended knee
the passing ages pray;
and faithful souls have yearned to see
on earth that kingdom’s day.
But the slow watches of the night
not less to God belong;
and for the everlasting right
the silent stars are strong.
And lo, already on the hills
the flags of dawn appear;
gird up your loins, ye prophet souls,
proclaim the day is near:
The day to whose clear shining light
all wrong shall stand revealed,
when justice shall be throned in might,
and every heart be healed;
When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
shall walk the earth abroad;
the day of perfect righteousness,
the promised day of God.
–Words: Words: Frederick Lucian Hosmer, 1891
–Tune: ST. FLAVIAN, 1562
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that who so believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.
This Easter, I have been surrounded by reminders of the Resurrection life. We are a blessed people to have inherited that gift through our new life in Christ. Each Easter, we remember that blessing. After what seemed like an unusually long and cold winter, and a season of renewal and reflection during Lent, this Easter season is greeted by shouts of praise and ALLELUIA to the risen Lord. It is a beautiful, sacred, and grace-filled life that we live in Christ. May that light shine in us always, no matter what darkness or evil may enter our lives. Thanks be to God! Happy Easter!
Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
The cross stands empty to the sky.
Let streets and homes with praises ring.
Love, drowned in death, shall never die.
Christ is alive! No longer bound
to distant years in Palestine,
but saving, healing, here and now,
and touching every place and time.
Not throned above, remotely high,
untouched, unmoved by human pains,
but daily, in the midst of life,
our Savior with the Father reigns.
In every insult, rift, and war
where color, scorn or wealth divide,
Christ suffers still, yet loves the more,
and lives, where even hope has died.
Christ is alive, and comes to bring
good news to this and every age,
till earth and sky and ocean ring
with joy, with justice, love, and praise.
Words: Brian Wren © 1969
Tune: TRURO, Charles Burney, 1789
Colorful signs of new life pop up everywhere!
The Gospel story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45) is a strange one, for many reasons. What I find most strange, but also most interesting, is that Jesus is told that “the one whom you love is ill.” Upon hearing this, Jesus doesn’t immediately go to Bethany to see his friend…he stays two days longer with his disciples. Upon his arrival in Bethany, he consoles his friends Martha and Mary. He goes to the tomb of Lazarus with Mary and Martha, and he, too, begins to weep. Several times, the Gospel says “he was greatly disturbed.”
This Gospel reading gives us a rare glimpse of Jesus…a one in which we see Jesus’s humanity expressed in several ways: his love for his friend, his being “greatly disturbed”, and in his consoling of his friends, showing compassion for his friends grief.
I think in this story, we are shown that it is OK to mourn the loss of friends and family whom we have lost in death. But, we are also called to hope and joy for the day when we will be reunited with them in eternal life. We are called with Jesus to mourn when we lose a loved one to death, but also we are called with Jesus to be joyful in anticipation of the day when we will all be raised from the grave, like Lazarus, and reunited with our loved ones for eternity.
Thanks be to God!
A poem for reflection…
Are you saved?
All this talk of saving souls,
Souls weren’t meant to save,
Like Sunday clothes that
give out at the seams.
They’re made for wear;
they come with a lifetime guarantee.
Don’t save our soul.
Pour it out like rain
on cracked, parched earth.
Give your soul away,
or pass it like a candle flame.
Sing it out,
or laugh it up the wind.
Souls were meant for hearing
breaking hearts, for puzzling dreams,
remembering August flowers,
These folk who talk of saving souls!
They have the look of bullies
who blow out candles before you
sing happy birthday,
and want the world to be in alphabetical order.
I will spend my soul,
Playing it out like sticky string
Into the world…
So I can catch every last thing I touch.
Next time someone asks, “Is your soul saved?”
Say, “No, it’s spent, spent, spent!”
I lift up my eyes to the hills;
from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the LORD,
the maker of heaven and earth.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
These two excerpts from the Psalms and the Gospel of John are two of the most known words of the bible. In this sermon from the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, Dean Hall reflects on the words of these two scriptures, and how they might apply to our everyday lives, specifically during the days of Lent.
Click here to watch the sermon.
Click here to watch the entire worship service.
The Very Rev. Gay Hall
Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,
once for our salvation slain;
thousand thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
Christ the Lord returns to reign.
– Stanza 1 from Lo! he comes with clouds descending by John Cennick, 1752
As the season of Advent comes to a close, I think of these words of my favorite Advent hymn. These words elicit a mighty, triumphant return of Christ in the fulfillment of God’s kingdom on earth. These words, inspired by the words of the book of Revelation, describe Christ’s return as a mighty King arriving in pomp and circumstance. These images have long been used to beautifully describe God’s ultimate return to the earth. Christians collectively long for the day when the sin and heartache of our world will fade away, and the glorious, endless peace of God’s reign will take hold. Regardless if you believe that Christ’s return will happen just like the words of this hymn explain, one thing is for sure. When the Kingdom of God does come to earth, and Christ’s Way is the way of all humanity, throngs of angels will rejoice in heaven. All of creation will be sanctified. All people will walk with integrity and justice will flow like a mighty stream. When that day does come, may we all in unison shout ALLELUIA to our God! Come, Lord Jesus, come!