When I wrote a couple weeks ago about one of my favorite hymns, "For All the Saints", several of you wrote back with your own favorites or sharing your love for mine. (For some reason readers of this blog seem to prefer to comment in personal e-mails or on Facebook rather than on the blog itself. I guess they are shy. Or maybe FB feels more personal. Who knows? I’m just glad when you tell me what you think!)
My sister mentioned #3 and #7 in InterVarsity's Hymns, which we used in family worship growing up. She didn’t bother to give their titles. She assumed I too would remember them from the numbers. She sent me back, thumbing through the slim blue volume on the shelf by the piano, reading favorite after favorite and remembering precious times of worship.
On this Good Friday, let me remind you of #18, "Beneath the Cross of Jesus." Some of the mid-nineteenth century language sounds quaint to modern ears. It’s full of imagery we moderns don’t have time for. How many of you have welcomed the shadow of a rock on a hot day?
I think my favorite line is in the second verse: O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!
Like romantic fiction where two lovers meet in a garden, God's love and God's justice come together at the cross. There was no other way. If there were, the cross would not be a symbol of love, but a gruesome and unnecessary instrument of torture. God’s perfect justice could not ignore our failures. We could not overcome them by meditating or by praying five time a day. We could not in our own strength become gods like him. But God’s perfect love was not willing to hand out the punishment we deserved. So he took it on himself; love and justice kissed on that sun-baked hill outside Jerusalem.
Come back Sunday and I will share the Easter hymn across the page, #19, but for today, let us remember the suffering that came before the glory.
Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat,
And the burden of the day.
O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was given,
So seems my Savior’s cross to me, a ladder up to heaven.
There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide
And there between us stands the cross two arms outstretched to save
A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.
Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.
I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.
words: Elizabeth C. Clephane
tune: Fredrick C. Maker
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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