Sunday, March 30, 2008

Easter triumph, Easter joy

Apparently, my Good Friday post was starting to depress people; and really, it wasn't witnessing the fullness of the Christian Gospel. Because the story doesn't end with the death of Jesus, and that's why His followers will be partying for the next fifty days!

Mighty Victim from on high,
hell's fierce powers beneath Thee lie;
Thou hast conquered in the fight,
Thou hast brought us life and light:
now no more can death appall,
now no more the grave enthrall;
Thou hast opened paradise,
and in Thee thy saints shall rise.

Easter triumph, Easter joy,
these alone do sin destroy.
From sin's power do Thou set free
souls newborn, O Lord, in Thee.
Hymns of glory, songs of praise,
Father, unto Thee we raise:
risen Lord, all praise to Thee
with the Spirit ever be!

---Robert Campbell (1814-1868)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Never was a grief like His

Lo, here I hang, charg’d with a world of sinne,
The greater world o’ th’ two; for that came in
By words, but this by sorrow I must win:
Was ever grief like mine?

Such sorrow as, if sinfull man could feel,
Or feel his part, he would not cease to kneel.
Till all were melted, though he were all steel:
Was ever grief like mine?

But, O my God, my God! why leav’st thou me,
The sonne, in whom thou dost delight to be?
My God, my God --
Never was grief like mine.*
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and striking him on the face.

Pilate went out again and said to them, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him."

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!"

When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him."

The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God."

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, "Where are you from?"

But Jesus gave him no answer.

Pilate therefore said to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?"

Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against Caesar."

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, "Here is your King!"

They cried out, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!"

Pilate asked them, "Shall I crucify your King?"

The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar."

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews', but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'"

Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it."

This was to fulfil what the scripture says, "They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots."

And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), "I am thirsty." A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out (he who saw this has testified so that you also may believe -- his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth).

These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, "None of his bones shall be broken."

And again another passage of scripture says, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced."

--The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Saint John (vv. 1-37).

*George Herbert, "The Sacrifice." 1633. Online at

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Now, my tongue, the mystery telling

It began this past Sunday, with palm-branches and "Hosanna!" We remembered with joy the welcome Jesus received as fulfilled prophecy and entered Jerusalem. And then we braced ourselves for this Week of Weeks with a meditation on Jesus' teaching, betrayal, suffering, and death.

And we wait.

We wait for the culmination of our hope as Christians. The yearning for the completion and fulfillment that we sense is just over the horizon.

But for now, the glorious rays of Light, the peals of "Hallelujah!", and the glad proclamation of victory are yet unfulfilled.

We must wait.

And as we wait, we remember. The twentieth day of March is Maundy Thursday this year: the night that we remember Jesus' teaching of the New Commandment (mandatum novum) that we "love one another." The night we remember the example that he gave for us, as he washed his disciples' feet. And the night that we joyfully recall that sacred meal that he taught us to commemorate, to proclaim his death until he returns.

I hope you will take a moment and think about that Thursday night: the night that Jesus was betrayed and handed over to sinners. To help you as you turn to God in prayer, consider the following poem, attributed to Thomas Aquinas (a Christian from the thirteenth century), and use it to guide your prayers of thanksgiving, adoration, and remembrance.

And then wait. Sunday is coming.

Now, my tongue, the mystery telling
of the glorious Body sing,
and the Blood all price excelling,
which the Gentiles Lord and King:
once on Earth among us dwelling,
shed for this world's ransoming.

Giv'n for us and condescending
to be born for us below,
he with us in converse blending
dwelt, the seed of truth to sow,
'til he closed with wondrous ending
his most patient life of woe.

That last night at supper lying
'mid the Twelve, his chosen band,
Jesus, with the Law complying,
keeps the feast its rites' demand;
then, more precious food supplying,
gives himself with his own hand.

Word made flesh, the bread he taketh,
by his word his flesh to be;
wine his sacred blood he maketh,
though the senses fail to see;
faith alone the true heart waketh
to behold the mystery.

Therefore we, before him bending,
this great Sacrament revere;
types and shadows have their ending,
for the newer rite is here;
faith, our outward sense befriending,
makes our inward vision clear.

Glory let us give, and blessing,
to the Father and the Son,
honor, thanks, and praise addressing,
while eternal ages run;
ever, too, His love confessing
Who* from both, with both, is One.

--Thomas Aquinas (ca. 1225-1274); ver. Hymnal 1940

* Reference to the Holy Spirit

Sunday, March 16, 2008

'Dwelling in unity' just got a little bit bigger

This week, we initiated new brothers into Beta Upsilon Chi Fraternity at Vanderbilt's Nu Chapter. I had the personal joy of being present for the ceremony and celebrating with the newest members of my family.

It's starting to get hard to keep up with them all, though, so I've taken a cue from Facebook and decided to post my Family Lineage:

Dillon Barker
Founding Father

Eric Armstrong

Ross Morrison

Justin Miller

Austin Fish

Chase Blood

Garrett Spiegel

Andrew Lossing

Greg Wigger
Cramer McCullen
Garrett Sauter

LISTENING TO: The Fraternity Song