Listening Through Lent: We Stand Forgiven

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.
This the power of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath–
We stand forgiven at the cross.
Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face, 
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Every bitter thought,
Every evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.
Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two, 
Dead are raised to life;
“Finished!” the victory cry.
Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.
(Final Refrain)
This, the power of the cross:
Son of God–slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.
~Keith Getty and Stuart Townend “The Power of the Cross”
I love pictures.  This hymn is full of poignant pictures.  And the music Keith Getty and Stuart Townend have written for the words add great power to these already powerful words.
Good Friday.
“It is finished!”
Hear the dying Savior cry,
the voice of love and mercy sounds aloud from Calvary.
Son of God–slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.
Is there any better news than that?
~Barbara Hoelle


A Great Hope

Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
John 19:40-42

“Good Friday and Easter free us to think about other things far beyond our own personal fate, about the ultimate meaning of all life, suffering, and events; and we lay hold of a great hope.”
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Today as we wait,
and consider the ultimate meaning of life
we feel so finite,
so temporary on this soil.

To spend a mere six weeks of Lent
studying His Word
is only a glancing blow,
as we reach out to lay hold
of our one great hope.

These Words last while
our earthly bodies will not
the promises ring out while
our attention wanes
the blessings perpetuate while
our gratitude is paltry
the glory is overwhelming while
our appreciation is lacking
the power belongs all to Him
and not to us

It is the Lamb we know so well
the gentle willing sacrifice
taking our place
taking on our guilt
taking off our accumulating debt
taking us along for a walk,
for a breakfast,
for a touch of his side, his hands

He lets us know
through an infinite love
from both the man and the God
that He is with us
He is for us
He is the hope we reach to grasp.
~Emily Gibson

Take Time to Mourn

“Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to the decision and action. He came from the Judean
town of Arimathea and was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.” – Luke 23:50-54

Do not pass Holy Saturday without a second thought.

There was recently another student suicide in our community on the Lakota reservation. While I did not have the student in one of my classes, I had many of her friends as students. As I saw their despair, confusion, and grief I felt a deep and real frustration with God. How could someone, with only 16 years of living, make the determination that they no longer deserved to live, or could not tolerate living any longer. What kind of world is it in which God has us live?

What did Mary and the disciples feel when Jesus was on the cross? What did Joseph of Arimathea feel as he peeled the bloodied and lifeless corpse down from the tree? It could not have been deep feelings of gratitude. They were not sitting around thinking: ‘Golly, I sure feel justified now. I’m so glad Jesus just took care of my sins and such.’

Instead there was a deep and real despair, along with a re-entering into the daily routine. Joseph knew the Sabbath was about to start and he had to get Jesus down and placed in the tomb before it did or else he would be ceremonially unclean. Had he or the disciples known what was going to happen, the Resurrection on the third day would not have been nearly as glorious.

At the end of the day, I cannot provide the consoling words or hope that my students need in the face of deep pain. Lament and complaint to God is a needed and
natural response. To simply say it will all get better is to ignore the reality of sin and pain that we know from experience are the realities we face on a daily basis.

Do not pass Holy Saturday without a second thought.

Take time to mourn. Take time to lament. Give yourself the time and space to sit in discomfort. The disciples took time to be in that space. Christ himself took time to dwell in that space. The pain and sin we face are real. Take time to let that sink in before the coming morn establishes a new reality.

~Ben Gibson