Friday, February 26, 2010

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ, my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See, from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a tribute far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

O Jesus, Good Shepherd

This text was written in 2004 for the 40th anniversary of Messiah Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan to the tune ANDREW'S SONG by Robert Hobby, an ELCA composer.  Our Good Shepherd left heaven to seek and to save the lost; He  "redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death," as Luther states in his explanation to the Second Article of the Apostles' Creed.  God bless the 40-day Lenten season before us as we meditate on the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep, sheep who love to wander and stray.

O Jesus, Good Shepherd,
You came from the Father
To gather the wandering sheep to Your fold;
O Savior, You gave up
Your life as a ransom,
A price far more precious that silver or gold.

Your life that You laid down
You willingly offered,
With power to give it and take it again.
All others who beckon 
With voices seductive
Are thieves and are robbers who steal from Your pen.

O Jesus, Good Shepherd,
True gate of the sheepfold,
All sheep that will enter must enter through You;
The sheep of Your flock hear
Your voice and they follow,
But run from the voice that is strange or untrue.

You give life eternal
So they never perish,
For no one can snatch Your sheep out of Your hand;
They come in and go out,
They find verdant pastures,
And all this is just as the Father had planned.

O Jesus, Good Shepherd,
You came form the Father
To bring life abundant to all who believe;
Still seek out and save all
The lost and the straying,
So they along with us Your life may receive.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory

This Transfiguration text by Thomas H. Troeger, b. 1945, is another good addition to Lutheran Service Book (416).  It is set to a fine tune, LOVE'S LIGHT, by LCMS composer, Amanda Husberg, b. 1940.   If you missed using this one last Sunday, make a mental note to use it for Transfiguration 2011.  Troeger's text amplifies the final stanza of the well-known hymn, "'Tis Good, Lord, to Be Here":  'Tis good, Lord, to be here!  Yet we may not remain; But since Thou bidst us leave the mount, Come with us to the plain.  Troeger's text takes us with Peter, James and John down the mountain to the plain and valley, to Jerusalem and the cross.  No disciple is greater that his master; our lives are shaped by the cross as well, as are the lives of all true followers of Jesus.  For such living under the cross, we truly need a daily transfiguration of our perceptions and intentions.

Swiftly pass the clouds of glory,
    Heaven’s voice, the dazzling light;
Moses and Elijah vanish;
    Christ alone commands the height!
Peter, James, and John fall silent,
    Turning from the summit’s rise
Downward toward the shadowed valley
    Where their Lord has fixed His eyes.

Glimpsed and gone the revelation,
    They shall gain and keep its truth,
Not by building on the mountain
    Any shrine or sacred booth,
But by following the Savior
    Through the valley to the cross
And by testing faith’s resilience
    Through betrayal, pain, and loss.

Lord, transfigure our perception
    With the purest light that shines,
And recast our life’s intentions
    To the shape of Your designs,
Till we seek no other glory
    Than what lies past Calv’ry’s hill
And our living and our dying
    And our rising by Your will.